• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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Flee

Rainbow Dash flinched, her entire body clinging to the stone floor of the cave as the flames overcame her. The tips of her ears smoked. Her feathers bristled with steam. However, as the seconds surged by, she wasn't dead.

Breathless, she glanced up just as her senses became aware of Axan's anguished bellows. The dragon Matriarch was leaning back, flinching, no longer exhaling flame. In the crimson light of the heated cavern, Rainbow Dash saw a glinting shape impaling Axan's face. A metal bolt had landed in the Queen of Flame's left eye.

Her children were standing at attention, turning their necks and glancing everywhere to ascertain where the projectile had come from. Collectively, the whelpling's eyes wandered to the shadowed cliff where Ember Speak was hidden.

Panting, Rainbow Dash flexed her muscles, shot straight up, and took wing.

A speaker turned and gasped, his crown of spikes shimmering in the firelight of the nest. “The winged equine! Get her—”

Rainbow Dash was busy vaulting over his headcrests. Gritting her teeth, watched by every snarling drake in the place, she soared directly at Axan and slammed all of her hooves into the arrow stuck in the Queen's bleeding socket.

“Gaaaaaugh!” Axan further shrieked and swung a blind claw at the pegasus.

Rainbow Dash spiraled to the left, easily avoiding the swing as the Matriarch's limb slammed violently into the floor of the cavern. The entire hovel shook as Rainbow Dash darted towards the shadowed exit. Scores of dragons scurried past her, attending to the agonized Queen. In seconds, Rainbow Dash reached the cliff, stretched her limbs into the darkness, and grabbed Ember's gasping body.

“We shall take care of the Queen!” shouted the speaker from below. He flared his wings and pointed at several of his lesser siblings. “Get them! Grab them and gut them!”

The air thundered from dozens upon dozens of sets of wings taking to the air, but Rainbow Dash was speeding too far ahead to bother hearing them. She clung tightly to Ember as she navigated the winding corridor, piercing through the smog as she made for the breezy exit on the far end of the tunnel.

“This was never gonna work!” Rainbow Dash hissed through clenched teeth. “The stupid, sulking dragon never wanted to talk to begin with! She's nuts! She's a huge, sobbing brat! She's...”

Rainbow Dash's words died out as she felt the trembles of Ember in her grasp. A trickle of warm liquid branched her left forelimb, and she became faintly aware of Ember's panicked sobs.

Gulping, Rainbow uttered in mid-flight, “You heard everything, did you?”

“We h-have to get back,” Ember stammered, sniffling and trying to maintain composure as she reloaded her crossbow. “We have to warn the others of this attack!”

“Ember, Axan said she sent the broodlings hours ago. By now, it has to be—”

The two reached the exit, and five sets of jaws awaited them. With one conjoined breath, the hovering dragons filled their vision with flame.

“Rainbow—!” Ember shrieked.

“Hold on!” Rainbow snarled, held Ember tighter, and spun the two of them like a bullet straight at the fire.

They burst through the wall of plasma just milliseconds before the flames could converge on them. Soaring out into the smoggy desolation, they darted past the five dragons, only for one of them to smack them with an errant tail.

“Gah!” Rainbow grunted and toppeled in mid-air. It was around the fourth straight twirl that she realized her hooves were empty. She looked everywhere, gasping, then heard a shriek. Glancing straight down, she saw Ember clinging to a cliff of the mesa.

Ember had lost her crossbow and was using both hooves to keep from falling to her death. Sweating, she looked up in time for her eyes to reflect a pair of wyrms diving towards her. The pony's face grimaced in horror as the jaws overtook her. “Mmmngh!” She flinched into the face of death.

“Haaaugh!” Rainbow Dash slammed down into the neck of one dragon, slamming it against its companion's. Both drakes' skulls plowed into the wall of the mountain just a few feet above Ember. The vibrations through the mesa caused Ember to lose her grip.

“Aaaah!” Ember fell, her limbs flailing.

Rainbow Dash hissed for breath and dove after her. One of the stumbling dragons reached a claw out and grabbed Rainbow by her rear left hoof. The pegasus grunted and kicked and bucked at her as she fell with the two weighted drakes. In mid-struggle, she flung a sweaty look earthward.

Ember was five seconds from turning to paste against the sundered floor.

Rainbow Dash curled her body against the dragon's hand and bit hard into its wrist. The scaled beast barely twitched, but it was just what Rainbow needed to wrench free. Blood flew from her lower hoof as it squeezed loose from the beast's claws. Yelping from the pain, Rainbow nevertheless shot directly downward, her forelimbs outstretched.

In a blue blur, Rainbow caught the Silvadelian and pulled up. The two soared bare inches above the gray rubble. Less than five milliseconds later, the two dragons landed like gigantic piles of meat behind them. The concussive blast of the groaning wyrms' impact knocked Rainbow off balance, and both mares collapsed, tumbling across the debris and sediment.

“Ooof!” Rainbow Dash landed hard on her back. Wincing from her bleeding leg, she struggled to get up.

Ember Speak, no less bruised, was standing and lending a hoof to Rainbow to help her up. “Come on! We can't stop now! Sanctuary is—”

“You!” A growling voice filled the air, followed by the explosive gunshot of four clawed feet landing before the two ponies. Ember and Rainbow gazed breathlessly to see a hulking speaker bearing down on him. “You would defile the Queen's lair, insult her sanctity, and wound her immaculate face?!” The snarling drake loomed above them, his crown of spikes blotting out the gray haze of morning over the desolate landscape. “I shall personally skin you raw and feed you to her hatchlings slowly—”

The speaker's voice was cut short as soon as his neck was. A gleaming blade sliced through the gurgling dragon's throat before being impaled deeply into his chest. Gripping to the hilt was Sam Rose, bathed in steaming drake juices. He twisted the blade, spat out a quart of blood, and glared at the two mares before him.

“A peaceful solution, hmm?”

“What...?” Rainbow Dash stammered, trembling in the gray smog.

“I swear...” Sam Rose opened his armor's sheathes and slid the sword back in. “How many times must I—?”

“No!” Ember Speak shrilly shrieked. Her eyes were wide and brimming with tears. “Your Majesty! What are you doing here?!”

His brow furrowed. “Protecting you. I knew from the beginning that this 'negotiation' would never work. So, I followed you here in order to—”

“Protect me?!” Ember Speak howled. She collapsed, her limbs shivering as her sobs came out in near-indecipherable hiccups. “You sh-should be pr-protecting Sanctuary! Oh blessed Elders...”

Sam Rose's face scrunched in confusion. “I do not understand—”

“You moron!” Rainbow Dash snarled, hobbling up to her aching hooves. “She knows! She's friggin' known all along!”

“The Matriarch?!”

“Her name is Axan, the Queen of Flames.” Rainbow Dash frowned. “And she sent an attack force to wipe out Sanctuary hours ago!”

Sam's face paled, and his irises shrunk to the size of pinpricks. Just then, the air heated up as three hissing dragons dove down on the scene on beating wings. With one long, growing snarl, Sam Rose spun around, unsheathed two blades in his teeth, and flung them at the incoming flock.

The dragons had no chance of surviving; Sam had slaughtered them before they even touched the ground. Cleaving flanks of scale off their hides, he brought all three to a gurgling demise. His violence was only outmatched by his fury as his voice filled the air with booming screams. When the echoes died down, Ember's sobs could be heard besides a shivering Rainbow Dash.

Sam Rose stood limply, panting. He shook the blood off his body and clenched his eyes shut for several seconds until he could afford a dry gaze. He stared Rainbow Dash's way, his lips loose and numb.

“Can... Can you c-carry me there...?” He gulped and stammered, “Can you bring me to my subjects?”

Rainbow Dash's frown had long left her. She gave a firm nod. “I can do more than that.”

“Look!” Ember shrieked. “Above!”

All three craned their necks. A huge shadow swam over them.

The sky above the mesa was suddenly full of leather and scales. Axan's entire nest had emptied, bathing Silvadel completely. The smog disappeared as a living wave of fire-breathing flesh descended upon the three equines.

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