• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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When Rainbow Dash heard her, she was snapped out of a stupor that she had been sitting in for so long that she had hardly acknowledged it. She looked over her shoulder, squinting. “Huh? What did you say?”

“I said it looks like you really miss the sky,” Ember Speak remarked with an innocent smile.

Rainbow Dash sighed and gazed off towards the lengths of Sanctuary. As her mind cleared, she realized that it had been a few hours since she last spoke to the royal prince. “I wish it were that simple,” she murmured. “But I could totally do with a dose of moonlight.”

Ember Speak arrived at her side and squatted down. “The lights above your land of Equestria: are they the source of your power or something?”

Rainbow Dash smiled thinly. “They're not just the lights of Equestria. They shine for the whole world. The princesses I once answered to were in charge of way more than taxes or tea parties. The stars spun under their command.”

“And yet they're not powerful enough to come and rescue you out of a place like this?” Ember Speak swallowed. “Or all of us?”

Rainbow Dash flashed her a look, blinking. “Were you at the Council?”

“I... heard about the proceedings,” Ember Speak said sheepishly. “Within ten minutes of a meeting, practically every Silvadelian knows how it went down.”

Rainbow Dash took a deep breath and gazed once more into the distant rock and torchlight. “I'm sorry, Ember...”

“Sorry? For what?”

“That I can't be your pegasus in shining armor!” Rainbow Dash growled, fuming briefly as she fidgeted with her hooves. “You guys already got one of those, and even he isn't enough to drive the dragons away.”

Ember smiled softly. “Never in my life have I expected Sam Rose to be the answer to all of Silvadel's problems.”

Rainbow Dash gave her a vulnerable glance. “Then—like—why do you follow him to your dying breath and stuff?”

“I've lived all my days in a dim place with no east or west, up or down,” Ember said. “I need something to follow. We all do. Sam Rose's courage and sacrifice is inspiring. It leads us to strike pain and fear into an enemy that thinks it can dominate or eliminate us. It's easy at times to think that our culture was defeated over a century ago, and that there's nothing left to fight for. And then Sam Rose leads the surfacing, and suddenly there's a reason to be alive other than to fade away.”

“He could very well lead you into oblivion.”

“I'd rather face nothingness charging and screaming than curled up in the darkness.”

Rainbow Dash gave a dry chuckle and tilted her gaze up to the high ceiling of the place. “You dudes certainly are a cheerful bunch.”

“There's a certain degree of joy in guile,” Ember Speak said. “I bet you know a thing or two about—” She blinked, then gasped. “Miss Dash!”

Rainbow Dash was convulsing. With two forelimbs, she gripped her cranium and doubled over, shaking intensely.

“Miss Dash!” Ember Speak stood up and held her shoulders while panting. “What's wrong? What's happening to you?”

“Nnngh... It...” Rainbow Dash hissed through seething teeth. Her eyes rolled back in her head, and Ember thought she saw the colors changing between the squinting lids. “It will pass! It doesn't last long.”

“This...” Ember stammered. “This is just what happened when we found you with the dragon!” She winced. “Something's horribly wrong with you! Quick, let's get you to the infirmary! The doctor's treating Swirls as we speak! Certainly he can see you—”

“Hckkt—No!” Rainbow Dash snarled. She flung a hoof up and gripped it around one of Ember's forelimbs. “The doctor can't do anything. Nopony can do anything. It'll pass! Or it won't pass at all!”

Ember's face stretched in pain and confusion. “But... But what c-can I do?”

Rainbow gulped hard and muttered through her convulsions, “Just stay with me. Just b-be here. And for the l-love of oats, m-make sure my pendant doesn't come off!”

“Yeah, okay...” Ember nodded in a weak breath. “Okay. I can do that.” She laid down next to Rainbow Dash, her eyes awash in worry. As Rainbow Dash shook and quivered, the copper mare laid a gentle forelimb over her shoulder and kept her eyes trained on the pegasus' golden pendant.

For an interminable ten minutes, this quietly proceeded, and finally Rainbow Dash's body started to relax. She breathed evenly, regaining the length in her limbs. After a while—with Ember Speak's gentle support—Rainbow sat up and slicked her mane back. She gulped, and her voice cracked as she said, “Thanks. Thanks for not... freaking out too much.”

“What is happening to you?” Ember breathed in a tone of sincere worry.

“It'd take too long to explain.”

Ember smiled and motioned towards the stone walls around them. “Does it look like I'm going anywhere?”

“Normally, I'd be the one to go somewhere,” Rainbow Dash said, finishing with a bitter chuckle.

Ember blinked, then said, “That sounds like an interesting life.”

“What does?”

“Being able to leave anywhere or anyplace at a moment's notice.”

Rainbow Dash winced. “Yeah, well, I'm fine here.”

“Are you? I can't shake the feeling that there's been something clawing at you since you arrived at Sanctuary. Up above, in the ruins, you seemed so... so...”

Rainbow Dash squinted at her. “So what?”

Ember Speak shrugged. “I don't know. But I think this place is doing something to you. I wasn't blowing hot air when I said you missed the sky. You are really good at talking to ponies and being around them, but I think that's not really your thing.”

“What is my thing?”

Ember opened her mouth to speak, hesitated, then ultimately said, “You have so many colors, so many brave traits. I think you were born to see the whole world, and not be cooped up in a grave.”

Rainbow Dash stared at her. She said, “There are lots of graves for me to choose from.” She gave the entirety of the enormous chamber a forlorn look. “I just don't think it's this place.”

Ember was about to respond to that when a noise sounded off from behind them. The two ponies turned about in time to see a tiny colt stumbling clumsily from behind a hiding place.

“Lime Tech?” Ember remarked. “What are you doing here past your bedtime?”

“Oh! Uhm... I-I'm sorry! Heh heh...” Limey fidgeted, smiling nervously under a loose pair of goggles that he was desperately attempting to set right. “I was just... uh... walking by! Yeah! I totally didn't mean to interrupt anything! Go ahead!”

Ember Speak and Rainbow Dash exchanged glances. They looked back at the foal. “Go ahead and do what?” Ember asked.

Limey blinked innocently. “You were gonna kiss, right?”

Ember did a double-take.

“I mean, that's what adults sitting next to each other and talking all serious-like do, right?”

“What... It... You... We...?” Ember stammered, her cheeks red.

“Snkkkt-Haah haah haah haah!” Rainbow Dash completely collapsed into a fit of guffawing laughter, kicking her hooves up. “Heeheeheehee!”

Ember frowned, staring down at her hooves. “Lime Tech, you've been listening to Zetta way too much...”

“Ohhhhhh I really, really needed that!” Rainbow Dash wiped her tears away, still snickering. “Whew! You're awesome, kid. You could afford to stick those goggles where your mouth is, but you're awesome.”

“I don't get it, though,” Limey remarked. “I saw Miss Dash shaking and stuff. Is she sick?”

“I'm starting to wonder,” Ember muttered with thin eyes.

“I'm fine, kiddo,” Rainbow Dash said, just then starting to compose herself. “Trust me. I couldn't feel any better.” She smiled, fidgeted, then brought a hoof back and forced her wings to coil at her sides with a deadpan expression.

“Cuz, yanno, if Miss Dash is being separated from the sky, I know just the place for her!” Limey said, beaming. “The glow chambers beyond the unicorn district is really bright this time of night.”

“Lime Tech, please,” Ember said softly. “You should be asleep right now. And besides, the glow chambers are off-limits to foals like you. I can't believe Zetta lets you in those places—”

“Wait a second!” Rainbow exclaimed, raising a hoof. “'Glow Chambers?'” She narrowed her eyes. “What kind of a glow?”

Limey fidgeted. “Uhm... Bright, gray glows. The chambers have vertical chasms that open up to thin pieces of the surface. They're too small for the dragons to notice, or for a pony to climb through. We keep them for collecting rain and stuff. I'm surprised Miss Speak didn't tell you—”

“And you're telling me at this time of night, they 'glow?'”

“Yeah. Isn't that cool?”

Rainbow Dash was shivering, holding a pair of hooves over her golden pendant. She gulped and nodded. “Kid, you don't know the definition of 'cool.' Not yet!” She shot up on hovering wings, smiling wickedly. “Come on! I wanna go see them! Before the glow goes away!”

“Heee! Right this way!” Limey galloped away.

“Hey!” Ember Speak gasped and clamored after the two. “Wait for me!”

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