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Yawning tiredly, I brushed the towel through my messy mane, gently picking up the excess moisture with the cloth. The room was dimly lit and I sat quietly, watching the warm fire crackle in the fireplace a meter or so in front of me. There was a definite earthy, homely feel to the house and I felt at ease. Tension I didn't realize I had slowly ebbed out of my shoulders and back, and I let the towel drape there on my head. The storm outside caused a light rainfall to come down, dancing lightly across the roof in a soothing pattern.
Smiling gently, I glanced over at the still drying orange mare nearer to the fire. She'd gotten as wet as I had in that last ten meter sprint for the house. Big Mac ran the cart to position and started undoing himself, while AJ and I grabbed the tools as fast as we could. Pinkie, who had yanked the sheet over herself and the tools when the rain started, kept the sheet around her the entire time, staying phenomenally dry. She surprised me by jumping onto Big Mac's back after we started gathering the tools, and acted like an umbrella while helping him undo his collar. As a result, she was damp, he was wet, and Applejack and I were soaked to the core. I tried really hard not to abuse the usage of the hammers I carried on Pinkie's skull. No, the moisture from the blood would probably oxidize the hell out of them. I sighed, realizing I wasn't really that mad at the gently swaying, pink mare to my right. She had her eyes closed and was softly humming a very gentle, surprisingly sleepy tune. I decided she'd actually done quite a bit for me today. Subtle, but she had cheered me up, distracted me, led me to where I could help, then shared muffins with all of us, all without requesting a single thing in return. She may act strange but she was totally all right in my book, I decided with a certain level of fondness.
My attention shifted again, momentarily observing the heavily bundled up Big Mac, who was wrapped in a larger towel with just his sleepy looking eyes peeking out. He looked oddly comfortable in there. He gave a quiet yet respectful nod to me and I smiled, nodding back in return before shifting my attention back to Applejack. Her coat was damp still, giving her a slightly 'fluffy' look that she'd probably belt me for mentioning. Mine probably looked similar anyway. A faint aroma of fur, mixed with the delightful yet light scent of apples drifted into my nose and I felt myself grow warmer, relaxing a little. It was far from an unpleasant sensation, but there was something else, practically unperceivable, mixed it. I gave up trying to identify the aroma after a few seconds and just let myself relax. My eyes danced along her Cutie Mark, and I absently wondered how she had gotten the triad of apples. Her special talent was obvious, but I couldn't help but wonder if I'd ever get such a mark. That mild sense of urgency danced about in my mind again.
Shaking the feeling, I distracted myself with the subtle shifting of the muscles under her skin. She was sleek, but corded with strength, probably from years of working on the farm. It was impressive, really. I quietly wished I was half as strong as her. I was eating better, but needed to pick up the exercise again. It was strange, as I doubted I had been quite this bad off in my prior body. Of course, who knew what I lost in the dimensional transfer? Maybe it had burned off vital constitutional energy or something.
Applejack's tail shifted lightly to the left and I watched the tie in the end of it ruffle along the floorboards quietly. I blushed lightly as the curve of her tail led my eyes directly back to where it met her body and I realized her shift had revealed more of the gentle curves back there. In mild mental panic, really not wanting a repeat of last time, I averted my eyes rapidly, shifting them the other direction along her body. Stupid, Mender! You don't want to piss her off a mere day after she started talking to you again.
My eyes locked directly onto hers however, and she wore an amused smirk. Aw crap. My blush brightened and I dropped my head onto my forehooves, letting my towel fall over my eyes and muzzle. Maybe if I didn't move, she couldn't see me!
There was a light, airy giggle followed by, "Ah think now's as good as any ta tell us what happened with Twi."
Double crap! Well, at least she shifted the topic from where I had dreaded it would pick up. "Ah, well she kinda got freaked out because I happened to um, catch a glimpse of her flank as she turned," I muttered, just wanting this over with.
There was a delay, and silence, before AJ sighed. "That's it? Fer real?" she questioned cautiously.
"Well mostly. Rainbow Dash called me out on it and might have made a bigger deal of it than expected," I added weakly, still hiding.
"Ah, that makes ah tad more sense. Twi tends ta be ah little, hmm, overthinkin' when somethin' she isn't familiar with is involved. What 'bout you?" she asked quietly, sounding curious.
Sighing, I tried to bury my head further. "Just frustrated. Don't mind me," I assured, silently pondering using the hammers on me instead.
"Ya sound ah little uh, tense, iffin' ah'm guessin' correctly," she remarked, earning a chuckle.
Regardless, she was dead on, and I confirmed, "More than a little."
Pinkie let out a quiet giggle, and I turned just in time to see her open her eyes and scoot closer, smiling at me. "You need to relax more. Should I plan another party for ya?" she asked.
"Ah no, it's okay, Pinkie. You helped me tremendously today and really yanked me out of my funk. It was," I started, before trailing off while watching the warmly smiling mare. Her bright blue eyes danced with a soft light that seemed to deny outright any traces of sadness at all. "I mean, thank you, Pinkie Pie. From the bottom of my heart," I muttered, giving up trying to find a proper wording.
She softened in expression before shaking her head lightly, giggling. "You're my friend now and I love cheering ponies up. So you're very super-duper welcome," she accepted. I started to smile but she surprised me by scooting up flat against me and tucking her legs up, gazing happily into the fire. I blushed again, but pulled this one inside much easier. The realization occurred that I didn't feel anything but friendship for this particular mare. It was distinctly different from Fluttershy and Twilight Sparkle. It felt like a soft heat from my chest that left a pleasant sensation, not a wildfire that threatened to consume me, and left my head spinning and filled with hot cotton.
It was almost like Applejack could visually see the difference, somehow. Her expression softened to a warm smile and she nodded to me before looking back at the fire. I watched the flames dance for a little while as well, feeling the gentle thumping of the other pony's heart against my side. It was peaceful, and I just let my thoughts drift for the time being. It was strange, but at least that sense of urgency pulled back somewhat. A twinge of guilt replaced it. How would they react? That didn't take too many brain cells rubbing together to figure out. Pinkie would be deeply amused, and AJ would think I was nuts. Well, more nuts. Screw it. I'd rather be nuts than hide things from my supposed new friends.
"Um, I have a confession to make if, uh, if it's all right," I finally managed to get out.
Applejack gently turned to look at me, still smiling but now with a curious expression. Pinkie started against me but made a whimsical squeaking noise. "Ooo, secrets?" she asked, sounding wide awake now. Uh oh. Well, second thoughts be damned. Too late now.
"Yeah. A big one. It used to be between just Twilight, Spike, and myself, but this afternoon, Rarity, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash found out. I guess I just wanted you ponies to not be left out," I explained, trying to keep my apprehension under control.
"Why Twilight an' Spike?" Applejack asked, expression neutral.
I sighed. That question was easy at least. "When the nurse diagnosed me with retrograde amnesia, Twilight came and tried to help me recover a few memories. She uh, stumbled upon some startling ones," I answered, blushing lightly. Not just Fluttershy's butt, either. The toweled mass that was Big Mac slowly rotated its head towards me and he also listened with a quiet interest.
"Oooh, big secrets! I promise not to tell anypony else! Cross my heart and hope to fly," she started, knocking me over as she sat up and flapped her arms in the air like a bird, before continuing, "Stick a cupcake in my eye!" She then poked her own eye with her hoof.
Aaah! My eye hurt just looking at her and I asked, "Wh-What was that?!"
Pinkie seemed unfazed and unhurt, giggling even, but Applejack smiled and beat her to the punch. "That there was ah Pinkie Pie Swear. Around 'ere, it's the most sacred o' promises. Ah add myself ta her pledge too," she informed, putting a hoof against her chest.
"Eeyup," Big Mac sleepily chimed in. I guess that meant he swore himself to secrecy as well. Not that I was too worried about him.
"Oh um, thank you for taking this seriously. I'm not entirely comfortable with it," I thanked, feeling a little better about telling them, at least.
"Ya don't have'ta tell us, Sugar Cube," Applejack spoke gently, and smiled. Her mane shone softly by the glow from the fire and it made her friendly demeanor all the warmer feeling.
I shook my head softly. "I know but I still feel like I should be honest," I added, frowning but remaining adamant. If I wasn't honest with the Element of Honesty, I had a sneaking suspicion she'd think less of me.
Applejack gave me a smile and nodded reassuringly. Pinkie, however, was utterly absorbed in my words, listening with a level of enthusiasm that was almost frightening. Sighing, I committed myself with a nervous swallow and launched into the story.
"Well to start, I'm kind of from another dimension..."
"Eeeeee, it's still so cool!" Pinkie exclaimed, bouncing around me in a circle in-between bouts of rolling and laughing.
Applejack smiled gently at her antics before looking back at me again. "Admittedly, it's ah might hard ta swallow but givin' yer reaction before ya said anything, an' the fact that Twi found it, ah suspect yer tellin' the truth," she remarked, with an oddly amused glint in her eyes as she looked me over again, seemingly in a new light.
"Of course he's telling the truth! I mean, sure I thought it was a super amazing and fun story at first and kept waiting for the punch line, but this is just so much cooler. A dimensional traveler! Just imagine. And now the 'no cutie mark' thing makes sense, well, more sense, not that it didn't before, but he obviously could have got one when he shifted forms. I mean, it would be really convenient but since he didn't, it must mean he doesn't know what he's really good at, which is even more exciting! There are so many things that we could try out and," Pinkie Pie started excitedly spewing forth, almost faster than I could keep up.
"Whoa Nelly, slow down there, Pinkie. Ya get right hard ta understand when excited. Ah'm interested too but let him get ah word in edgewise," Applejack interrupted with a light chuckle.
I smiled at them regardless. The reaction to the story was significantly better than I had worried it might be, so I honestly didn't care how excited she got at this point. "I was worried you'd think I was more nuts than already proven," I muttered, blushing lightly. Was it silly to assume AJ would take it badly?
The orange mare let out another soft chuckle, and shook her head softly. "It's definitely somethin', but ah actually think yer a tad more sane than ah originally gave ya credit for, an' ah apologize again. Ye were investigatin' the landin' point then when all that craziness happened?" she asked, frowning lightly.
I nodded quietly, shuttering as the cold sensation drifted back into my chest in remembering. "Yeah. Twilight wanted to test for magical energy. Fluttershy is all right, though," I assured again.
"Ooo, that's right. You saved her! Did she give you smooches?" Pinkie suddenly asked.
I think my brain hit the floor at roughly the same time as my jaw. Applejack just laughed though. "Ah think ya know Fluttershy ah bit more than that, Pinkie," she reminded.
Pinkie giggled and nodded. "Oh, I know. He's just oh so wuvably adorable when he blushes!" she admitted, halting her bouncing long enough to squish my cheeks together. They felt all the hotter for it and I tried my best to scowl at her, despite admitting she got me good.
"Yer horrible sometimes, Pinkie Pie," Applejack muttered, shaking her head and grinning. Pinkie gave her a knowing smirk and finally let go of my cheeks.
The three of us were interrupted by a light snoring noise. Looking over, we saw that Big Mac was quietly sleeping; his head down and tucked in the now dry towels. Applejack smiled warmly at him and nodded. "It is gettin' that time o' night. Ya can stay 'ere tonight, Pinkie. Ah don't want ya out in that rain," she spoke up. Oh yeah. Crap. It was raining.
I stood up shakily at the same time Applejack did and looked out the window. The barn was a good quarter of a kilometer from the house and I wasn't looking forward to sprinting back there. Well, whatever you called my fastest running pace. An energetic turtle? I couldn't see how wet it was in the dark but I could definitely hear the rain on the roof. Scratch that. I'm just going to walk. I'll be soaked regardless and walking has less chance of spontaneous injury for me.
Applejack shook her head curtly after closing the grate on the fireplace, disrupting my thoughts. "Don't yeh even think about it, either. Yer staying inside too," she warned, giving me a stubborn stare. Oh, well that changed things. Wait…
"Ooo! Who's he staying with? You only have one guest bedroom," Pinkie asked, looking impishly amused again.
Applejack gave a dry chuckle and an eye roll. I panicked slightly and added, "I can just stay with Big Mac, right?" I glanced over at where he was and jumped slightly when I realized he was gone. The towels were politely folded and left there, against the couch. Holy crap! How does somepony that large move so quietly?!
"He can be awfully quiet when he wants ta be. Probably ah good thing, as Applebloom an' Granny are asleep already," she explained, noting my surprise. Crap. Wait, the couch!
"I'll just stay on the couch, don't worry," I assured, smiling and waving a hoof nonchalantly through the air.
Pinkie pouted, but AJ just smiled and nodded. "Mighty right an' honest of ya, Mender. Ah know many ah stallion probably wouldn't think nothin' of tryin' his chances. We'll go over ta Twi's tomorrow an' have a talkin' with 'er, don't worry," she promised, giving a perky smile instead. Trying my chances? I swallowed lightly and nodded.
"I don't want to force her. If she'll have me back, all right, but if not I'll just have to find a different place to lay my head," I appended, trying not to show my concern.
"Yer ah hard worker, an' that brain'll come in handy, ah think. Ifin' she doesn't, we'll whip up somethin' in the barn for ya," Applejack offered, shifting back to a less energetic, but still warm smile.
"Thanks, Applejack. I'll help you out, even if she does let me stay with her," I added, hoping she didn't get the wrong impression prior. I mean, it's not like I had to live here in order to help around the farm. Besides, it might get some of my muscle mass back, eventually.
Applejack nodded again before pulling Pinkie towards the back, who was now giggling and looking like she was getting amusement from sliding backwards across the flooring, instead. Whew, she must have been joking about sharing a room with one of them. Pinkie felt like a friend and I didn't need Rainbow Dash actually trying to kill me for flirting with Applejack. The prior did a good enough job almost killing me when it was accidental.
Yawning, I curled up gently on the end of the couch closest to the fireplace. My eyes slowly closed and I let my thoughts drift. I was feeling much better about things but that sense of urgency reared up again. It was a while before I could get to sleep.
The sky was almost gone. Stars danced beyond what was left of the atmosphere, seen easily now. A rainbow hue followed the burning embers slowly across the horizon, as the air thinned. Space itself seemed to open up before me and I couldn't fully comprehend my place in things anymore. I felt so tiny, as thousands of stars shown above. We had lost. Our species was ended, like who knows how many prior. Did it matter? Ultimately, no. I'd have died sooner or later. Our species would have died out eventually. Our genetic anomaly was promising that, far more rapidly than we'd have liked. But even that was a moot point.
It all fell into perspective and my fragile personal thresholds tore away like tissue paper in a rainstorm. One day, none of it would matter anyway, even if they hadn't come. Everything ends. Maybe even time itself, if something were to live that long. And at the end of everything, long after our star is destroyed, the bits of our galaxy cool, and all of everything is reduced to a chilled nothingness, what's left? Them? Hardly. We killed some of them. They weren't indestructible and sometime in the future, their time would come too. Maybe that's what all this was about? Them, struggling meekly against their fate in a race for supposed immortality. It was a race that we hadn't wanted to compete in from the start.
My hand gently extended upwards, a light blue fur up to the knuckles of all three fingers and the thumb. Dark crimson coated the back of the hand from an inconsequential gash but I ignored it, reaching out and grasping at the stars as best I could. So beautiful. They were so foolish. Immortality was right here and they couldn't even see it.
The rainbow hue shone brightly through the splintering sky and I could still see shards of my final barrier in the air around me. The impossible heat was still present to my side somewhere and I knew this ball of rock that used to be a planet was going to come apart. I couldn't stop smiling. If there was an end of everything, I wish I could be there to see it. The amount of sorrow and joy the universe must contain. By the end, I bet it would be impossible to comprehend. Why was that so beautiful to me? Was it wrong to want to see and experience everything this universe had to offer?
The shard of my barrier closest to me shown with a rainbow hue and attracted my attention. A refraction of light from the atmosphere? My eyes widened as I saw a perfect image lining up inside of the shard, matching to the faded hues in the sky above. An expanding rainbow light, as glorious as the rising sun. Rainbow. Wait. Cyan blue met my eyes and my head hurt. The strangest sight of a pony inside of the shard appeared. She streaked away from the expanse, a streaming trail of prismatic light following her. It was as beautiful as the sky above.
Rainbow Dash. Equestria. It wasn't a dream. It couldn't be. Was this the dream? Which was it? Maybe both were real. She drew me towards her excitement and I felt her energy almost calling to me. Through me. My eyes widened as I felt the pulse of energy running through my veins. That final spell. It was keeping me alive. I was still alive. The cords of rainbow light danced from what was left of my chest and I felt nothing. Trying not to cry, I traced the energy gently with my fingers until they got to the floating shards and faded away. The energy went somewhere else. Somewhere that wasn't here. Why couldn't I just follow it and never look back?
Closing my eyes again, I could almost hear them. Was this a memory too? Was any of this real or was I already dead? I heard my name, a gentle whisper of a voice calling out to me. Was it my name? No. But it was my new one, which I now felt was more important. Coughing weakly, I fought through the fog in my mind and went as best I could towards the voice.
"…lease, wake up now, Mender. You need to wa…" echoed through my mind. I winced and coughed weakly, feeling cold inside. My head spun and my eyes cracked open. It was mostly dark still, the sun barely lighting a sliver of the horizon. My vision was fuzzy, and a light silhouette of a pony flickered in my vision, between me lying on the couch and the window.
"…sleeping still. I'm scared. I think it's…" echoed in and out, and I groaned, feebly trying to shift my left leg to block some of the light from the window, so I could hear her. Her. It was a mare. I almost, maybe, recognized the voice. Who was it? The echoing continued with, "…nightmare. It has to be. You… wake up! I'm scared…" She was almost too quiet to hear, and I reached out towards her, trying to touch her. She let out a quiet whimper that resounded in ghost sounds throughout my head and tried to nuzzle my outstretched hoof as I extended it. I smiled warmly momentarily before another coughing fit struck me.
Gasping and wheezing for breath, I clutched at my chest with my other hoof as best I could. It felt like shards of ice were buried in my lungs and it hurt to inhale. I jerked awake more and looked back up again, only to find myself alone in the living room. The light bled softly through the window, giving a gray illumination to my world. My head swam with a lukewarm mud sensation and I tried to stand. There was little strength in my legs and the only thing I accomplished was falling off the couch with a sick, wet thud. Wait, wet?
My eyes widened as I saw the light dance across my stretched out forelegs, as I sprawled there on the floor. Thick, black veins extended down my skin, and a damp sweaty sheen coated my fur almost completely. I managed to shift my head down enough to see a mass of darkened, poisonous looking veins extending from under the bandage wrapped around my chest. Son of a bitch. Why now? Why me? Fluttershy had healed up entirely in a matter of minutes. Why wasn't it going away on me as well?!
Trying really hard not to pass out again, I pushed my foreleg against the floor and got both my front legs up, trying to lift myself. It felt like they were made out of putty and I struggled to stop them from shaking as I saw drops of sweat touch down on the floorboards. A light clinking sound came from behind me somewhere. In the act of turning to look, I slipped sideways and collapsed to the floor again with a wet slapping noise. Giving up, I just lay there, trying to catch my breath through the chunky agony that was my lungs. I saw a light coming from what appeared to be the kitchen. I hadn't really paid much attention to the layout of the house last night.
"Is that ya out there, Big Mac? Yer up awfully early," I heard a sleepy sounding Applejack ask quietly, peeking her head out of the door frame with what looked like a small cup of water in her muzzle.
For a moment, she seemed perplexed to not see the large, red stallion, but then she looked over at me, lying on the floor. A heartbeat went by where she stared at me without recognition. It was over in less than a second and she dropped her water cup as her eyes widened. "Mender! Are ya okay?" she asked, rapidly rushing over to where I was.
I tried to speak but my throat was too dry and I shook my head weakly before trying to stand again. Applejack caught me as I wobbled and helped me get my balance. With a bit of effort, she pushed me up to my hooves, hooking me under my left foreleg and bracing my shoulder. "What happened? Yer really not lookin' too good," she asked, a spike of worry very evident in her voice now.
Looking over at her, my eyes softened as I momentarily saw through her completely. The room shifted briefly to a burnt image of hell itself, the sky being a dark void with rainbow flames falling like ash. That wasn't sky at all. Gravity momentarily fell away, and I had the sensation of my stomach drifting up into my chest cavity before my throat clenched again and I broke into another coughing fit. When I finally managed to open my eyes again, I was back in the dimly lit room in the farmhouse. What, what was happening to me?
"Focus, Mender. Stay with meh, okay?" Applejack asked gently, trying to extend her hoof up and feel my forehead for fever. Sadly, she couldn't. Both of our eyes widened, as my flesh went with her hoof. She gasped and tried to pull her hoof away from my shoulder, but long strings of ooze, vaguely similar to the color of my coat, was still attached. No. No, no, that looked way too familiar to be a good thing. No! I panicked, and tried to fall backwards away from her, scampering along my hooves. Damn these four legs! When I really had to move them, it's like they were spaghetti.
Applejack let out a quiet yelp as I fell away from her, flailing. The trails of ooze fell over me again, and seemed to sink back into my flesh. Her eyes widened even more as I fell over and she dove to try to catch me. No! I tried to scream out to not touch me but my voice cracked and I let out a pained gurgle instead. She managed to snatch me before I hit the floor and braced against my momentum, setting me down instead. I rapidly shook my head towards her but it was far, far too late at that point.
She looked down at her chest with an almost calm manner as blue, flesh colored ooze covered the entire front of her body now, and at least a dozen strings connected her to me. "W-What is this, Mender?" she asked, voice uncharacteristically shaky as she tried to pull the strings of me off her. Her eyes widened as she realized she couldn't and probably felt the cold starting to spread through her. My mind screamed and spun itself in circles as I, somehow, felt AJ there. It was like my consciousness was drifting into awareness and the parts of her I touched were registering as my skin instead?!
"It's dangerous. D-Don't touch me anymore," I managed to whisper, trying to pull myself away from her more but finding myself stuck. Mental curses drifted through my head as I tried to think of a way to fix this. Okay, so it seems I was like those rock now. My magic activated in a heartbeat and I scanned myself again out of instinct.
My heart froze. That invasive energy was back. It was everywhere, filling me almost completely. That um, really wasn't good. Yeah, I couldn't think of anything good that could come of this. Applejack saw me trying to pull back and braced herself against the ground, slowly backing up to try to yank the slime off her. My sheen of sweat only made it that much easier for her to slide me across the floor. "Ah! These… They're startin' ta hurt, Mender!" she exclaimed, whisper no longer in her voice as she started to panic.
There was no choice. It had to be sealed. My containment field activated inside of me, and I got an idea. A reckless idea, but at least it was something. Wrapping a ball of the hellish energy up in a field, I simply smashed it into the inside of my chest as hard as I could, aiming to miss ribs if at all possible. The pain was unbelievable and I managed to actually gasp and cry out this time as I suddenly smelled blood. The front of my chest bandage took a deep tint of crimson then, spreading rapidly as a black blob of energy emerged from my chest. That would have to do! My barrier expanded, and I barely held back the scream as it felt like raw fire erupt from my chest. My symbols poured forth, with no small amount of blood alongside, and rapidly covered the entirety of my body. I smiled weakly as I watched them extend down the lines of fleshy slime, towards the now horrified looking Applejack.
She screamed. I had to give her credit. It wasn't something that was girly, or undirected. She turned her head backwards as she did so and directed it back towards the bedrooms as the slime fought against my magic, trying to pull her closer. "Help!" she added, at the top of her lungs as she shifted to the right rapidly.
The effect was instantaneous. There were several loud crashing noises from the bedroom area and I swore he almost took the door off its hinges as he smashed it open, sliding into the hallway less than three seconds later. "AJ!" Big Mac shouted, expression impossible to read, somewhere between rage and worry.
Big Mac charged, heading right at Applejack, who was struggling to try to pull the end table at the end of the couch between us, to try to break the lines. In any other circumstances, seeing him charge at me with that look probably would have caused me to wet myself and pass out from fear, as a side note. He smashed into the table, as Applejack cried out again, a line of the slime hitting her face and expanding those dark veins rapidly. Damn it! I fought as hard as I could and managed to lash symbols over it and pull it off her. Yes! This would work, provided I didn't bleed out and die before I managed to pull them all off her. He grabbed her around the waist, paying no heed to the slime trails at all, and started pulling backwards, kicking the end table into me and trying to use it as leverage. The collision of wood against my side barely registered, although I knew it would leave a nice sized bruise. I held no fault at all for him and even encouraged it as I tried to push off it in the other direction.
My mind barely registered the curious whistling noise from outside at that point. My insides felt like they were being vacuumed out of my chest but the pressure at least eased up after I was encased entirely in the symbols. The only tugging I felt was when I tried to reach out and stop the tendrils attached to her, which I wasn't about to stop, even if it tore my heart from my chest. The whistling got louder however, and I noticed it on more than a subconscious level after a few seconds. I looked over at the door just as the knob busted and splintered into the wood, the cyan mare hitting it with enough force, hooves first, to snap it open and fall inside into a roll. "AJ!" Rainbow Dash shouted, coming out of the roll and rapidly assessing the situation.
Horror danced in her eyes as she saw the strands of goo. Yeah, I figured she'd have no problem identifying them, although I had no idea how she knew to come here, nor how she got here so fast. "Mender, what's going on?!" she asked, fluttering into the air again. She also seemed to recognize the symbols covering me, as she dove instantly and latched onto me around the waist, pulling me backwards.
"I, I woke up like this. Help me get them off her!" I shouted, struggling with my back forelegs against the end table. There was nothing I could do with my legs, at this point. Instead, I went limp and shifted myself into my mind. Everything I had. There was no choice. I wouldn't remain conscious but I couldn't do this without Twilight's help, by myself.
Resigning myself to what I had to do, I activated the secondary symbols in my mind and opened my eyes, feeling the natural limiter temporarily disable. The force of the energy pulsed at the back of my eyes and the room was lit in an unnatural glow as the symbols all over my body flared up. I saw the weave of energy drifting through the tendrils now, with my enhanced vision, and pushed everything I had into spreading the symbols up them.
Applejack gasped and involuntarily blushed in surprise as the symbols hit the edges of her skin and sunk in, following the tendrils and encapsulating them. This time, I was ready for the sensation, which, while similar to Twilight slipping into my mind, was also entirely different at the same time. A different type of energy was inside Applejack, and this time I was doing the invading, as I felt my mind sink into her skin and feel out where the tendrils were. She shuddered and went limp, as I scanned her and pulled the ward over every single little branch. I couldn't afford to leave even a hair of these things inside of her.
Big Mac stared at her in shock for a split second, before narrowing his eyes and glaring up at me, obviously not knowing what I was doing. Rainbow Dash cut him off however by shouting out, "Pull! Now!" She remembered.
He looked up at her momentarily, before nodding and yanking again, hard. That all too familiar popping sensation was felt to me again, and I lost all feeling of Applejack's body. Did that mean? I smiled as I saw all the tendrils of my skin break free entirely and rapidly pull back as if burned. They sucked back into me painlessly and I felt the added mass re-assimilate back into my being, sealing the hole in my chest, much to my surprise.
Blood and sweat was splattered across the floor under me at random at that point. Rainbow Dash let go rapidly and I fell three feet before smacking into the floor, legs first, and becoming a tangled heap. Everything darkened as my energy diminished rapidly from the effects of removing the magic limiter and I saw the symbols starting to flicker. Feeling it out, I noticed the connection between them through my chest was still there. With my last little bit of strength, I latched the spell onto my life force and then everything went dark.