• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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“Rainbow Dash,” Ember Spark spoke in awe. She followed the pegasus down a narrow corridor lined with torches as the two marched deeper into Sanctuary. “Do you really expect to fly your way to the dragon Matriarch and try to negotiate for Silvadel?”

“No.” Rainbow Dash smiled without looking back. “I plan to knock on the Matriarch's door and let Princess Luna do all the talking.”

“Even at the risk of your life?”

“If the Matriarch is willing to risk boredom by chatting with a Princess, then sure!”

“But...” Ember galloped and caught up with Rainbow Dash. “No Silvadelian who's seen the Matriarch up close has ever survived the experience! What makes you think you'll do any better?”

“I think these will help a bit,” Rainbow exclaimed, waving her wings.

Ember's brow furrowed. “And what if those fail?”

Rainbow paused and shrugged. “I've got my swag.”

Ember blinked, then smirked bitterly. “If I didn't know better, I'd say you weren't taking yourself seriously.”

“Hey. What's going on here in this home of yours is the utter definition of serious,” Rainbow Dash said. “I don't take kindly to ponies being burned alive for simply wanting to protect their homes. Totally not cool, if you ask me.”

“It's none of your concern,” Ember said. “I mean, you're an outsider—!”

“When ponies suffer and stuff, I kind of think it's my business.”

“But why? Because you're a pegasus? You gotta be the winged steward of all things?”

“No...” Rainbow Dash looked directly at her. “It's because I'm alive.”

Ember Speak looked back. She exhaled and muttered, “You're going to get yourself killed.”

“I'll do anything I can to avoid it,” Rainbow Dash said. “Death sounds annoying. I hate annoying things.”

“Wouldn't your Queen think—”


“Whatever. Wouldn't this 'Luna' character want you to stay out of danger? I mean, you're more than just a world-travelling pony, Rainbow Dash. You're the only piece of your homeland this far out to the east. Doesn't that mean something? Don't you owe it to her to keep yourself alive?”

“I owe myself a lot more.”

“In what way?”

“To be better.”

“Better than what?!”

Rainbow Dash smiled. “Exactly.”

Ember stared at her for a prolonged time. After a sigh, she stated, “So there's no way I can talk you out of this craziness?”

“Hey, if there's one thing I'm addicted to as of late in my life...” Rainbow Dash struck a proud pose, grinning. “It's craziness.”

“Heh. No kidding.” Ember squinted at her. “But do you at least know how to get to the Matriarch's whereabouts?”

“I'm was hoping to figure that out by nightfall—”

“I shouldn't have even bothered saving your life,” said a low voice from the far end of the corridor.

Ember immediately bowed.

Rainbow Dash sighed. “Look, before you start...” She turned around with bored eyes. “I got the Council's blessing—”

“And you would not have been around for the Council to bless...” Sam Rose remarked with hard, thin eyes as he marched towards her. “...if my team and I hadn't salvaged you from dragonflame in the first place.”

“Hah!” Rainbow Dash cackled. “So is this what happens when you don't get your way, your Royal Tantrumness? You resort to a guilt trip?”

“There is a reason why I risk the lives of myself and my fellow comrades to spite the dragons,” Sam Rose said. He icily strolled to a stop and firmly said, “It's to save the flesh of ponies for burning. Now tell me, Rainbow Dash, was bringing you safe and sound to Sanctuary worth your incineration in the end?”

“You're betting a lot on the Matriarch turning me into a colorful cinder, huh?”

“It is not a matter of luck,” Sam Rose practically hissed. “We're dealing with absolute fact. If you go to the Matriarch, you will die.”

“You've got ears beneath that bony helmet of yours, right?” Rainbow Dash raised an eyebrow. “I'm pretty sure you heard what I told the Council. Princess Luna of Equestria is gonna have a word with the dragon and talk some sense into her—”

“The Matriarch shows no grace or kindness to ponies,” Sam Rose said. “She's decimated an entire army of equines from the south. What makes you think that the words of a single alicorn will sway her any more?”

“Uhhhh... Cuz no alicorn has ever interceded on your burnt little civilization before?”

“Miss Dash—” Ember stammered nervously.

Rainbow Dash pushed her aside to glare harder at Sam Rose. “You know, I think you just don't like change, do you? As a matter of fact, I think you enjoy being miserable and struggling against pain and ash all your life!”

“All my life and all the lives of Silvadelian royalty before me have had their existences defined by pain and suffering!” Sam gnashed his teeth. “And there's a reason for that! The Matriarch's will is stubborn and malicious! She will not budge for anyone or anything, regardless of the divinity behind it!”

“How do you know that?!”

“There is a saying in Silvadel,” Sam Rose said. “'Those who think they can find the sky find a grave!'”

“And there's a saying in Equestria!” Rainbow Dash retorted. “'You're full of crap!'”

“Your guile is admirable, but foolhardy! The Grand Project is enough! You need not sacrifice yourself—”

“Oh, because you're sooooo worried about my well-being!” Rainbow Dash grumbled.

“Please!” Ember once again tried to interject. “Cand we just—”

“That's a comforting excuse, isn't it? To say that you're concerned?” Rainbow Dash smiled wickedly. “Face it, prince. All you wanna do is go out there and slit dragon necks! Spilling blood is like drinking coffee to you! You can't start your day unless you've run laps around intestines! Well, I'm sorry, but all war is good for is more suffering. It's gotta come to an end! And I'm in the right place and the right time to do something about it!”

Sam frowned viciously. “If you think that you somehow have it within you to single-hoofedly change centuries upon centuries of strife... If you actually think that you have the faculty to bring peace—”

“You don't know peace.”

Sam suddenly held Rainbow Dash in a vice grip. “And you know nothing!” He sneered into her face. “Not even yourself. I've seen the look in your eyes, outsider. I know the look of a pony who's taken a life!”

Rainbow Dash's jaw drop. She did not protest; she did not retort. Her ears drooped, as did her wings.

Ember Speak's eyes traveled nervously between the two. She shivered in the sudden silence.

“You preach to me about violence and about doing horrible things...” Sam Rose hissed, “What are you really flying away from, Miss Dash? Do you really, truly think that so much distance and so much daring can fix something so broken?”

Rainbow Dash was silent. She gulped and gazed off towards the torchlight with a pale face.

Sam Rose stared at her. The anger left his face, replaced instead by cold lethargy. With flaring nostrils, he relinquished his grip of the pegasus. “Go to the Matriarch if you must. I've done all I could to protect you.” He marched off towards the dark beyond the narrow corridor. “Just don't expect a prince like me to put your pieces back together. Heaven knows, the Matriarch certainly won't.”

Still as a stone, Rainbow Dash fell to her haunches, as if the pendant around her neck weighed several new tons. She ran a hoof across it, shuddering.

Ember Speak watched as Sam Rose trotted off. Gently, she turned to the visitor. “He gets very passionate about everypony in Sanctuary. He sees us all as brothers and sisters, including you. So, please, don't take what he says too ser—”

“If it's okay with you, Ember... uhm...” Rainbow's voice cracked. She swallowed a lump down her throat and stammered, “I kinda... k-kinda wanna be alone right now...”

Ember almost protested, but bit her lip. Her ears twitched as if from the echoes of Sam's words, and she quietly gave Rainbow her wish. She walked away, leaving the pegasus alone with the dancing shadows.

Rainbow closed her eyes and took several deep breaths, but none of them had the power to relax her.

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