• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Rainbow Dash squinted, her lips mouthing the intense gravity of Axan's last booming words.

“What is this worldly end that you insist of, Axan?” Celestia remarked.

“Do not pretend to be ignorant, Princess,” the Matriarch retorted. “This world does not have many ages left. In less than a few centuries, all will be devoid of life. When I close my eyes and meditate on the decaying landscape around me, I often wonder if there is even a hundred years left to relish.”

“Everything has an end, Queen of Flame,” Celestia said. “But I do not understand you dire prediction.”

“Naturally, for you are blinded by your own ambitions,” Axan replied. She blew smoke towards the ceiling and lowered her iron snout upon the edge of the golden hoard. “Everything about ponydom is alien to this plane. You lack the senses to properly listen to the heart of the Machine. Who could expect anything else? Neither of you were there when the Sundering happened. How could you know that the great Hum of Purpose has been dwindling ever since? It is but a whisper now, Princesses, and the shuddering gasp of the Purpose's death is sucking the breath out of all things that cling to the Machine's dirty surfaces.”

“And as a means of mourning this death, thou spreadeth destruction and misery?!” Luna's voice rose in anger as Rainbow Dash's pendant vibrated. “Thou shouldst pursue coexistence with the life of this world if thy concerns were so adamant! What prosperty doth it serve us to sow pain and agony?! Together, in mutual agreement, we couldst approach all crises, including the worldly doom thou believeth in!”

“There is no sense in talking to you anymore,” Axan said, grumbling, causing the chamber full of pensive wyrms to shudder. “You still think that harmony and mutual peace can solve things. The Machine is broken; the spark is gone. There is nothing that can bring this realm back to Purpose. All will grow cold. Life will dwindle to dust. What good will your harmony do you then?”

“And just what is your solution, dear Queen?” Celestia asked.

“The only solution is to admit that there is no solution,” Axan said, her eyeslits thin and tired as she stared into the golden glitter of her massive hoard. “I must retire here, in this next I've built, and increase my riches. In a world where all is death and decay, my precious metals shall conserve my merit. A dragon's hoard is her lifeline, after all, even after time and turmoil have consumed her. If I want any future for my children—even a bleak one—I owe it to them to ensure that these riches remain in my possession. If I fail, then what happened to the other Divine Four's offspring shall happen to mine.”

“What fate hath befallen them, Axan?”

“Far be it from you to know the truth from your aloof thrones,” Axan growled. “Far be it from you to know that there is a world of desolation beyond the shimmering glory of your kingdom. The Sun and Moon possess the sky, but they do not come down from it. If they did, then perhaps they would lend knowledge to your eyesight, piercing through the blindness...”

Axan suddenly stood up, her iron limbs flexing as she sneered straight down at Rainbow Dash.

“And perhaps you would know that I am dying, Goddesses of the Stars!” Axan shouted, her eyes burning bright as her mouth lit up. “And that not even the Divine Five have it in their power to salvage this world that the alicorns have spoiled!”

Rainbow Dash flinched, for Axan had jerked her head forward and launched a volley of burning embers straight at her. The heated swath wasn't enough to set Rainbow Dash on fire, but it did knock her savagely off her hooves. With a grunt, Rainbow Dash rolled backwards and tumbled to a stop against one of the chunks of rubble that the laborers had flown in. The glow in the pendant died out. Celestia's and Luna's voice shouted in surprise, and were silenced under a curtain of smoke.

“H-Hey!” Rainbow Dash snarled, jumping back to her hooves and barking straight at up at the massive Matriarch. “You hardly gave them a chance to—!”

“You speak of chances?! Of fairness?!” Axan hissed. The entire cavern was roasting at that point as she leered mightily above the petite pegasus. “This world is a fractured piece of a forsaken accident. We drift through the stars like a leaf lost from its tree, and everything beyond the twilight is frozen death. You were doomed to suffer since the day you were born, pony. Do not preach to me about what you deserve when you are nothing but a speck of sediment in the grand crucible of chaos.”

“The Princesses were totally willing to help you!” Rainbow Dash said, frowning in spite of the heat that was curling her blue hairs on end. “Don't you have enough friggin' gold?! Don't you have enough kids to do what you want?! How could someone like you be so selfish and lame to not give a little to the world around you?! So what if it ends?! That's no excuse to make all of Silvadel as miserable as you—”

“They will not be miserable for long,” Axan said coldly. “In fact, by this point, they are likely at peace.”

Rainbow Dash's jaw dropped. Her eyes squinted. “Huh...?”

Axan's green eyes twitched. “You do not know?” Her teeth showed beneath a crooked grin. “How very fitting of Celestia's patron equine, to be so ignorant...”

“Just be straight with me!” Rainbow Dash raised a fist, growling. “Or I'll see if those ugly horns of yours bend backwards!”

“I thought you had come here as a means of retribution,” Axan said. “I thought this was a desperate response to my silencing the vermin of this land.”

Rainbow Dash gasped, her ruby eyes wide. “Wait...” Her body was shivering. “Do you mean—?”

“I am older than all things that have sprouted wings and legs,” Axan said. “I was here before there was light, before there was pain or joy. My heart beats with the invisible spirit of the Purposeful Machine. Do you think I'd be blind to the defilement of the earth? Do you think I would not feel the tunnel being burrowed towards my holy domain all these months?! Would a pathetic weapon of simple design escape my knowledge?”

Rainbow Dash gawked at the queen as a crimson light overwhelmed her.

Axan was leaning forward, her jaws exhaling vapors of heat. “I sent half of my brood to destroy that insipid 'Sanctuary' hours ago. The creatures of this land were dispensed with before you even arrived.” Her three-pronged tongue sparked. “However, you are more than welcome to join them.”

And a wave of fire washed over Rainbow Dash.

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