• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Rainbow Dash fell with a shriek, proving that her lungs were still intact. The flame had blown just above her plummeting skull, missing her by a melting foot. Sailing like a blue anvil towards the rubbled chunks of architecture below, she angled herself earthward, stretched out her wings, and pulled up in time to avoid becoming bloody paste against the white stones.

As she skimmed the uneven surface of the mesa, a winged shadow swallowed her up. She looked up, breathless.

All she saw was scales and claws. Then—glinting in the grey light of Silvadel—there was a flash of teeth. Fire erupted towards her yet again.

She just then passed beyond the edge of the plateau. She dove down sharply, barely escaping the range of the infernal blast. Spiraling around, she dove between the two massive plateaus of earth. The ash parted around her as a horrible wind kicked up. Her ears rang with a shrieking noise. Peering behind, Rainbow Dash saw something bright red and the size of a small house. With leery amber eyeslits, a crimson dragon was zeroing on on her tail. The atmosphere rumbled with thunder upon each wing flap, and soon the serpentine monstrosity was lunging at her with clamping jaws.

“Hnngh!” Rainbow Dash twirled to the side, dodged the bite, and kicked off the creature's neck. She flew sideways, awkwardly slamming into the earthen wall of the opposite mesa. The dragon lunged at her again. In her panic, Rainbow Dash tightened her wings to her side and dove like a missile straight earthward. The dragon sailed into the rock above her, sending chunks of debris raining everywhere as the dragon dove in hot pursuit.

Rainbow had very little chance to breathe. She was slicing through the air at multiple times the force of gravity. The world whistled past her ears, threatening to deafen her. With each banshee scream that the dragon produced, she felt a growing and intense heat. Her coat hairs started to curl on end. In desperation, she threw her body into a spiral and unfurled her wings at random. As a result, when she finally pulled up, it was in a direction that the dragon couldn't possibly have anticipated.

It was with good timing too; Rainbow Dash dodged the earth, flew through a forked cluster of rocks, and made for the outer edge of the Silvadelian crater. To her delight, the ground shook from the dragon's calamitous impact with the gray city ruins behind her.

Rainbow Dash took several wheezing breaths as she glided evenly. She gave the twin mesas behind her a forlorn glance. From a distance, she saw the crucified pony bodies burning from the dragon's arrival. There was no hope of saving the one suffering victim, especially as Rainbow witnessed the crimson monster climbing back up and getting ready for take off.

With a whimering sound, Rainbow Dash beat her wings faster and ascended as swiftly as she could. She tried to remember something that Twilight had once taught her in one of her many eggheaded ramblings: that dragons flew slower in the upper troposphere. Praying that her tiny speed and agility would carry her to safety, Rainbow Dash accelerated herself towards the lofty summit of the Silvadelian smog cloud.

She wasn't alone for long. She felt the thunderous distortions in the air as the crimson wyrm gave pursuit. As she approached the clouds, the gray banks reflected a bright red glow. The ash began melting in the air. Her wings failed her several times as jets of hot air caught up with her, smelling of dragon breath.

Then, like a gentle sunrise, a light broke through the clouds above. Rainbow Dash thought it was the sky at first, but then she never knew the sky to have several flapping wings and sets of jaws. She gasped, her ruby eyes twitching as they reflected the shapes of two, four, six, eight draconian figures. Before her, an entire brood of dragons were descending. The sky was literally filled with them. The monsters carried several clusters of debris and junk in their talons, and they were all approaching Rainbow Dash, all returning from a journey.

“Oh jeez... Oh jeez...” If Rainbow Dash had shed tears, they would have evaporated. At least ten sets of flaming breath converged on her at once. She hugged her limbs to her chest, formed an equine cannonball, and simply let gravity do its job. She plummeted past the first creature that had chased her, dodging its clamping jaws by a hair. As she reached terminal velocity, she unfolded her wings yet again and needled her way towards the heart of Silvadel.

Several thundering echoes sounded behind her. The gray world lit up with gold and flame as dozens upon dozens of roaring beasts rocketed after her in furious pursuit. She dove until she reached ground level and pulled up above the ruins. She looked back in time to see twenty whole dragons pulling up in identical fashion, their mammoth girth forming sonic craters against the sundered floor of desolation. With every beat of their wings, chunks of buildings and stone and marble flew in opposite directions. The creatures formed a solid ravine, and they were soaring straight after her.

Gnashing her teeth, Rainbow Dash dove even lower and threaded her way through every tiny partition she could find. She bobbed and weaved around crumbled arches, bent towers, and hollow buildings. Fitfully, she hoped that the dragons might lose her amidst all the debris.

They merely smashed through the rubble as if it was made of tissue paper. Iron jaws snapped flailing chunks of concrete to bits and spat them back into the ashen air. Bulldozing their way through the mess behind Rainbow Dash at breakneck speeds, they roared and snapped at her rear limbs, filling the air with the rancid smell of their collective breaths.

Rainbow Dash panted and tilted upward in her flight, making for the edge of the sloping crater. To her dismay, she felt her body slowing down. She was being sucked backwards, and the air was heating up like a crucible.

She gasped. In what was bound to be the stupidest decision of her life, she somersaulted and flung her wings straight out. She braked in mid-air, stalled, and twirled about. Stifling a deep scream, she flew directly into the phalanx of pursuing dragons, just in time to avoid their burning breaths. Into the muderous stream of claws, teeth, and flame Rainbow Dash sailed. She spun left, barrel-rolled, twirled right, weaved up and down, and zig-zagged between blinks. She avoided every bite, claw-swipe, and plume of flame with sheer luck. Finally, no less than twenty dragons converged on her, leaving no avenue of escape from their exhaling breaths.

Gritting her teeth, Rainbow Dash clamped both hooves over her pendant. “Nnnnngh—Whitemane!” Her eyes danced from white to yellow and back.

And then she caught on fire. From mane to tail, she was scorched in agonizing flames. Her body turned into a smoldering comet that plummeted towards the earth with a dark black smoke trail.

Rainbow Dash's figure smashed through the top layer of debris like a torpedo. She bore through two walls of ashen debris, slammed off a wall, pinballed off two clusters of rock, and came to a rolling stop in a deep pocket of soot.

After a few seconds, the flames finally dissipated, and it their place was a fluctuating prism of white energy. Rainbow Dash hissed, wincing all over. However, her body was decidedly in one piece, saved by alicorn energy at the last possible moment. Quivering, she stretched one forelimb after another and pulled herself weakly towards the shadows. Above, the dim ceiling of congealed rock and alabaster stone shook from the circling monstrosities. Rainbow Dash had almost made it to a tiny niche of rubble when—

A single dragon smashed down through the debris. It stood deep beneath the dome of petrified rubble, glancing around the deep hollow looming beneath the ceiling.

Rainbow Dash froze in place, sweating all over. Her eyes swam to the edge of their sockets, pulsating with each rapid heartbeat.

Growling from deep within its burning chest, the dragon slithered forward. Each clawed foot shook through the chamber as it dragged its tail with a shower of sparks. An amber glow swam across the hollow like a searchlight as the dragon's eyeslits narrowed. It lingered just a few feet behind Rainbow Dash, tapping the solid bedrock impatiently while the sounds of its shrieking companions circled above the surface of Silvadel overhead.

Rainbow Dash gulped. She tried to inch away, but a deep shiver was running through her figure. It was more than pure fear. It was—

“No, please... Please...” She whispered below her breath, overcome by a deep dizziness. Her eyes were flickering back and forth between white and yellow as the hot world spun around her. “Not here. Not now...”

The dragon crept closer.

Rainbow Dash fought to crawl out of sight, but her limbs had become limp as noodles. She felt like throwing up. She felt like—

With a shriek, the dragon hopped and perched on the ground right above her. A single foot clamped over Rainbow Dash's prone body.

Rainbow tried to breathe. All that came out of her compressed body was an agonized wheeze. Her eyes rolled back several times before she summoned the strength to look up at her fate.

The dragon's neck crests flared. Its jaws produced what could best be described as a grin as it arched its neck back, prepared a flaming breath, and opened its maw straight at the pegasus.

It was precisely at that moment that a brown figure in golden armor pounced on top of the wyrm's head. With serrated horseshoes, a dark-haired stallion stabbed directly into the drake's eyes. The dragon reared back, blowing fire at the stone ceiling instead of at Rainbow Dash. Before it had a chance to shriek, several arrows flew up out of the shadows and impaled it several times in its vocal cords.

Rainbow Dash coughed and sputtered, rolling over and watching in shock.

The dragon writhed and thrashed about. It folded its wings upward, using them like limbs to try and scratch the pony off.

Relentless, the stallion dug in tighter with his horseshoes. Gray light shimmered off a dragon skull helmeted over his piercing, green eyes. As he clung to the dragon, he gave his shielded flanks a shake. On command, his golden armor extended outward, revealing a dazzling array of sword hilts. He hoisted a silver blade from his left side, tossed it up in the air, re-gripped it in his teeth, and stabbed the full length of the thing straight down into the drake's skull.

One of the dragon's crimson neck crests was sliced clean off. It shrieked and fell forward on the ground, bleeding boiling juices over the sterile bedrock. The stallion ripped his hooves out of the monster's eyes and ran down along its spine. As he did so, he sheathed the blade back into a side panel of his armor and shouted across the cavern, “Ember Speak! Swirls! Grab the pegasus!”

“We got her, Sam!” a female voice replied.

Rainbow Dash suddenly felt herself being dragged dizzily into the shadows. “Who... What...?” She reeled about, stumbling, to see two mares and a stallion peering out from even lower pits. “How...?”

“Move out of the way!” One pony shooed the other two and aimed his crossbow. “Gotta give Sam Rose cover!”

“I think he's got it, Stu.”

“Shhh! You'll attract the others!”

“You're going to be okay!” one mare said to Rainbow Dash, trying to steady her. “It's fine. We've got—” She paused, squinting. “What's wrong with her eyes?”

“Don't take...” Rainbow Dash murmured, drifted, and fell into their grip. “Don't take the pendant. Leave it... Just...” The world was spinning again. She twisted and turned.

The last thing she saw before everything went black was the stallion in gold unsheathing a huge bastard sword, growling for good measure, and then plunging the blade deep into the dragon's burning heart. Then the fire died.

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