• Published 13th May 2012
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Austraeoh - Imploding Colon

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The first thing Rainbow Dash heard was the rippling of water.

Her eyes opened. The ceiling of jagged rock was flowing by faster above her. She hadn't even realized she had fallen asleep.

With a groan, she sat up, rubbing her head. The boat rocked slightly and several ponies were muttering.

“I'm glad you've come to,” Astral's voice said. He was sitting next to her at the rear of the boat. “I was tempted to wake you earlier, but I felt that your rest was supremely important, considering the unknown trials ahead.”

“Well, that's one way to make a filly feel useful,” she grunted, cracked her neck, and stretched her forward limbs. “Nnnngh... How long have I been out?”

“In my estimation...” Astral thought aloud, “Perhaps six hours.”

“Yeesh. I almost feel like a neglectful moron!” Rainbow Dash said. She blinked. She took in the sight of the quick currents. “How come we're moving so fast?”

“We seem to be coming to an impasse. I think the current splits up ahead.”

“Like a liquid fork in the road?” Rainbow Dash sighed and flexed her wings. “No wonder everypony looks so nervous. Any... y'know... monsters while I've been 'away?'”

“Fortunately, no.”

“I'd hope you would wake me up for that.”

“Indeed,” Astral said with a nod. “By the way, who is 'Gold Petals?'”

“Uhhh...” Rainbow Dash squinted at him. “Why do you ask? Did Rockspot say something?”

Astral pointed across the river at the other boat coasting parallel to him. “I truly doubt I would have heard him from this distance.”

“Oh. Right.” Rainbow Dash blinked. A redness came to her cheeks. “Ahem...” She ran a hoof through her mane, fidgeting. “Just... uhm... just how much was I talking in my sleep?”

“It was a very short monologue,” Astral said with a placid smile. “You need not worry.”

“Yeah, well, any chance you'll be a cool unicorn and not tell other ponies about it?”

“You're a very heroic pegasus, Miss Dash,” Astral said, then nodded. “But also a very secretive one. Your words are safe with me.”

She exhaled sharply. “Well, that's swell to know.”

“And where is this 'Ponyville' you would like to show 'Gold Petals' someday?”

“Snnnkt!” Rainbow Dash hissed. “Look, can we just—I dunno—drop it?”

“My apologies,” he stated. “I'm just a little concerned for you is all.”

“Yeah, well, don't be,” she grunted.

“You're very integral to our escape here,” he said. “It would hardly be beneficial for us to endure the rest of this trip on our own.”

“Well, thank the friggin' stars that you don't have to.” She smiled proudly. “Cuz I'm staying by your guys' side no matter what.”

“I have no doubt that we can depends on your resolve. I am merely concerned with your potential.”

Her ruby eyes narrowed. “The heck is that supposed to mean?”

“Tell me, Miss Dash, do you remember falling asleep?”

“Well, I—” She looked around. Her ears twitched to the sound of rippling water. “Uhhh...” She blushed again. “No. Not exactly.”

He said, “That's because you did not fall asleep, not naturally. I dare say—you had a dizzy spell.”

“I did?”

“It frightened every pony in the boat. If it wasn't for my expert abilities in feeling your pulse, we would have imagined you dead.”

“Well, thank goodness that wasn't the case, huh?” Rainbow Dash shrugged with a chuckle. “Look, I crash all the time. Where I come from, ponies used to call me 'Rainbow Doze.' I'm like a king lion, or something...”

“And does a lion's eyes turn yellow before rolling back in his head?”


“Or does he grasp his forehead and moan in pain—”

“Look, stop worrying about me, okay?!” She suddenly snapped, forcing several of the ponies in the boat to look her way. “I'm telling you I'm fine—so I'm fine! Trust me, it's only a waste of time to worry about my well-being!”

At the end of her exclamation, there was a slight, rosy glow across the lengths of the boat. Astral looked down. Rainbow followed his gaze, and saw that her pendant was ever so slightly shimmering. Quietly, she planted two hooves over the necklace and sat in silence.

Astral quietly looked back at her. “You've given so much time and effort to protect us, Miss Dash.” His eyes curved sympathetically. “Won't you let other ponies take care of you?”

Her nostrils merely flared. She gazed into the rippling currents, too stubborn to speak.

Suddenly, a commotion rose from the other boat. Several of the prisoners stood up and gawked, craning their necks for a better look of what was before them. Red Turnip Sr's voice could be heard from yards away.

“Whoah! What in Tartarus is that thing?! Get a load of its size!”

Rainbow Dash turned around. She blinked, and flapped her wings so that she broke into a hover between the boats.

The river wasn't splitting apart. Instead, it was leading straight into a solid wall. But it wasn't porous rock or jagged stone. A solid, immaculate wall of silver metal stretched before the two groups, forming a solid barricade just beyond a gravel “shore” of pebbles atop of which multiple minotaur tools had been left from a prior expedition.

Whispers and murmurs of awe filled the air.

Astral's eyes twitched at the shiny structure seemingly peaking out from under the subterranean wall. “Have you ever seen anything like this?!”

Rainbow Dash gazed at the metal, and a shiver ran down her spine. “Uhm... actually, I kind of sort of have...”

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