by Imploding Colon

Out Gunned

Rainbow Dash was almost out of the breath to scream. Like a comet, she twirled a cyclonic maze of criss-crossing managliders. The pilots atop each craft breathed steadily into their helmets as the piloted their magically-propelled craft, twirling to keep up with the speeding pegasus. In successive order, they fired their supply of bladed rockets, aiming for her fragile, flapping their wings.

The world spun as Rainbow Dash barreled and dodged the insurmountable waves of projectiles slicing towards her through the morning air. She spun a glance to her right. Along the spinning horizon, she made out the blurring image of the Steel Wing—just one large dot in a stream of fourteen other dark splotches just like it. Her heart pulsed as she dove, forcing the image of her destination out of her sight. She plunged like a meteor towards the burning depths of Foxtaur below.

"She's fleeing!" one of several stallions shouted to the rest of the squadron via sound stones. "Quick! Give pursuit!"

With screaming whines, the managliders dove down after her. Their serrated wings lopped off the burning tips of several trees as they skimmed the rooftop of Foxtaur.

Rainbow Dash weaved left and right around smoldering trees, holding her breath as she pierced curtain after curtain of rising smoke. Flames licked at her hooves as the gliders evened out and fired a volley of sharp rockets.

She twirled, barely avoided a blade or two that grazed her side, and—ignoring the pain—dove deep into a mess of forest, dipping out of sight.

The managliders rose up, splitting off into two separate squadrons. The pilots chattered with one another, trying to ascertain her location.

Meanwhile, Rainbow Dash was soaring at ground level between them, flying suicidally fast through the burning debris as she attempted to hide her movement. Before she had the chance to think, her ears pricked to the sound of intense whistling noises. Cursing mutely, she lifted up just as the first of several shells hit.

Foxtaur exploded all around her as thunder returned to the burning valley. She navigated successive sprays of shrapnel, twirled through it all, and burst up out of the canopy and into a flood of exploding flak.

Miraculously coming out the other end, she flew into the left wing of a blindsided managlider. The two pilots on board yelled as her blue figure shredded the vehicle in half and send it crumbling to the earth.

With nimble limbs, Rainbow Dash clutched a chunk of wing, spun about, and flung it towards the first of several advancing managliders.

The piece of shrapnel forced the pilot to dodge the vehicle down. He lost momentum, and Rainbow Dash took advantage of it. With a grunt, she perched atop the vehicle, bucked the copilot off, and gripped the front stallion with two hooves. Growling, she slammed his helmet repeatedly against the front of the craft until it shattered through to his horn. She tossed the body backwards, knocking two screaming pilots off of one pursuing managlider. The pursuing aircraft all fired on her position—and she leapt off in time to avoid the exposed core of the interceptor exploding from the many projectiles.

Twirling like a murderous top, Rainbow Dash threaded her way through an advancing swarm of aircraft and made for a space of uninterrupted air that was all that remained between her and Steel Wing. No sooner had she advanced more than one hundred meters when a pair of shells were launched at her position. They exploded, knocking her back into her pursuers.

Grunting, she backflipped and literally fell through the rising managliders. With a cry, she landed into the cockpit of one and got tangled with the unicorns piloting it. A scuffled turned into a mid-air wrestling match, all the while the one managlider bowed and dipped. Losing sight of her destination, Rainbow Dash gave the pilots a frustrated kick. They collapsed against the controls, forcing the vehicle into a dive. Soon, the gaping body of Sapphire Ravine loomed. The three of them hurdled straight towards the canyon's jagged blue edge on the east side.

Holding her breath, Rainbow Dash spread her wings and kicked off the craft. She flew into the body of the ravine just in time to avoid an exploding death against the rock wall of the trench. Soon, the swarm of interceptors was on her tail, filling the steep canyon with the sound of their screams while shells exploded overhead, preventing any attempt Rainbow might make to escape up out of her sudden entrapment.

Panting, sweating up a storm, Rainbow Dash sped north with the Ledomaritans in hot pursuit. The air was full of shrapnel and manafire as she sped south, bathed in panic and the penumbra of dawnlight.