• Published 13th Oct 2015
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Utaan - Imploding Colon



Rainbow Dash endures many trials to reach the edge of the world.

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In the Hills, She Holler

Rainbow Dash trotted north.

This was no easy task; half of the visible horizon was swallowed by mountains. Polished ivory triangles of ice blue and stone gray sliced at the sky with jagged peaks. Rainbow spotted a potential "pass" through two of the stouter ridges, but it was still a flagrant exercise in steep torture. From afar, Rainbow could hear the shrill whistle of frigid winds howling between the rock structures. It greeted her as she marched up a shallow incline of tundra and sporadic snowbanks. Rainbow shivered from the cold—then shivered harder from knowing that there was still even more altitude to climb.

At last, she reached the highest point along the ridge between the two peaks. Upon first the blink beyond the crest, she couldn't tell if she was looking north or south anymore. An identical sea of sprawling snow peaks loomed ahead of her as well as behind. With a dull sigh, the mare tightened her coat and marched onward to the next plateau. She paced her hooves evenly so as not to accidentally tumble downhill.

Rarity spoke the most out of anypony during this journey. Her muzzle was full of advice, directions, suggestions for alternate routes. At one point, it was obvious to her as much as it was to everypony else that she was overcompensating for the situation. There was simply no way to make Rainbow Dash's trek any less arduous. All the pegasus or her marefriends could do was wait it out... while Rainbow Dash walked it out.

"Well, look on the bright side," Twilight randomly sputtered. She smiled at Rainbow as she attempted to crawl through a swath of powdery snow. "You got yourself some good practice in the Grand Choke, right? I mean... you couldn't fly for most of that either."

"Yeah..." Rainbow grunted, floundering to scale a hill of deep snow. "Mrmmmfff... but I also wasn't plot deep in friggin' ice and sleet."

"Erm..." Twilight bit her lip.

"And I had pretty much lost my mind at the time, so almost all of it's a blur to me now," Rainbow added. "Today, I'm as sane and cold as I am flightless."

Twilight folded forelimbs with a pout. "Well, forgive me for trying to be optimistic."

Rainbow did, and she pressed on. Two ridges later, she found a stretch of plateau between mountainsides. Here, the snow layer was thin, replaced instead by a chaotic assortment of gravel and loose pebbles. Twilight claimed that it was likely a spot of exposed limestone from when and where an ancient ice shelf had once slid across the earth's surface. Rainbow merely kicked the tiny rocks aside and kept on trotting.

Beyond the next ridge, Rainbow encountered a windblown valley absolutely covered in rolling mounds of snow. This was somehow worse to deal with than the mountains, for the reflective white material was literal murder to the poor pegasus' eyes. It certainly didn't help that the sky above the mountains was a crystal clear blue with a bright golden sun shining the entire time. Rainbow found herself squinting throughout the entire march, and she could already feel her face blistering from the solar exposure.

Sympathizing with her plight, the ghostly mares came up with a plan. They talked Rainbow Dash into drawing her hood completely over her face. Although she was blind from it, the four coordinated with one another to survey the landscape and give Rainbow audible directions for how to proceed safely. Rainbow wobbled from side to side at first, but soon she and her incorporeal companions discovered a rhythm. The mare relaxed for the first time in hours, and she shuffled forward at an even pace, mostly paying heed to Rarity's words as she directed her safely up and over each surmounting hilltop.

The day came to a close. The sun was so low that the snowscape was no longer punishing. Rainbow Dash raised her hood and squinted at the landscape ahead. A dull purple shadow hung over the east ends of the mountains as the setting sun sank beyond. Razor-edged beams of darkness issued eastward from the tallest peaks, making it look as though the whole world was spinning to the left with oozing motion blur. All the while, Rainbow kept heading northwest—as best as she could judge from Yaerfaerda's position to her right.


Schlunkkk!

Rainbow stuck a frost rod into a patch of snow. She leaned her muzzle forward and breathed against it. Sure enough, it glowed from top to bottom in a pale gray light. Rainbow shuddered delightfully from the heat being generated, and she proceeded with pitching a tent along the south edge of a mountain, blocked from direct wind.

Meanwhile, her friends were arguing...

"Rainbow's a tough mare, Rarity!" Twilight exclaimed. "She can handle a steep incline!"

"I'm not denying that, Twilight." Rarity upturned her nose. "But I don't see why she should. There are plenty of even plateaus for her to traverse around the mountain peaks!"

"Yeah... but those plateaus take three times as long to traverse!" Twilight frowned. "Rainbow's running on borrowed time! And very little of it! It's enough that we have to travel away from the next beacon! We shouldn't be putting off her next rendezvous with Yaerfaerda any longer with all of these unnecessary detours!"

"Look, I'm the best scale Rainbow has to measure a safe and secure path through these mountains, Twilight! Who's going to help her get to Wyvern Point? You?! Oh! I know! Let's have Fluttershy guide her by steering her past all the mountain goats!"

"Uhm..." Fluttershy bit her lip. "...actually, I-I haven't sensed a single living thing since we left the Snow Bloods back at the farm."

"Oh, now you're keeping an eye out for things!" Pinkie Pie grumbled. "Where were you when somepony needed to remind Rainbow Dash about the map of Rohbredden that she left inside the runaway train?!"

"Well?" Fluttershy frowned back at her. "Where were you?"

"Alright, look. Pinkie Sense is really... really distracting, okay?!"

"Well one of us should have thought of that map!" Twilight exclaimed. "We can't pin it all on Rainbow Dash! She was doing all she could at the time to shake the Talon—"

"Let's... not worry about the map, okay?" Rainbow muttered as she finished with the tent and crawled inside. "I've still got a few of Sinar's scribbles left. I'm sure I can figure out where Wyvern Point's situated—"

"Yeah, in about a week!" Twilight Sparkle grit her teeth. "Because at this rate, Rarity won't stop treating you with foal's gloves—"

"Well excuuuuuse me, Twilight, if I want our dear beloved Austraeoh to reach Wyvern Point in one piece! Lest we forget, she's going to need me all the same for the edge and the dark side beyond!"

"She's going to need you?!" Twilight cackled. "Pffft! The dark side is full of chaos and Celestia-knows-what! She's going to need my magic sensitivity for sure!"

"Uhm... hello?!" Pinkie frowned. "'Chaotic' is my middle-name! Sandwiched between 'Diane' and 'Scrumptious!'" She twisted her head upside down and stuck her tongue out. "Pinkie senses for the winnnnnnnnnnn!"

"Can we please stop arguing?" Fluttershy shivered. "Please..."

"Fluttershy's right," Rainbow said, lying down and warming her hooves before the frost rod.

Twilight and Rarity spun to look at her. "But—"

"Put a cork in it!" Rainbow snarled. "Yeesh... if this is what a bunch of dumb mountains will do to you girls, I'm scared to even think about Bleak's Plummet."

Silence.

Twilight and Rarity hung their heads. After a shuddering breath, they murmured to one another.

"I'm sorry, Rarity."

"No, I'm the one who's sorry, Twilight. I just... feel so stressed."

"At least you have an excuse. I feel just about as helpless as Fluttershy out here in these mountains." Swallowing a lump down her throat, Twilight pivoted to face Rainbow. "I don't know how you do it, Rainbow... how you remain cool during so much... nothing."

"Believe me..." Rainbow's teeth chattered as she embraced the glow of the rod. "It's... n-no trouble staying cool in this friggin' continent." She bore a brief smirk before coughing. "Ahem... and... I-I'm the one who should be sorry for the map."

"You were juggling so much at once, Rainbow," Fluttershy cooed. "Pinkie's right. I could have done a better job being your eyes and ears when you needed them. We all could."

"Yes..." Pinkie sniffled, her ears drooping. "And 'Scrumptious' really isn't one of my middle names." A whimper. "I made it uppppppp..." She broke into sobs.

"Erhm..." Rarity shifted awkwardly. She reached over and patted Pinkie's shoulder. "There... there...?"

"You should get some sleep, Rainbow," Fluttershy said. "I think we all should."

"Yeah..." Rainbow gulped, glancing into the glow right in front of her. "Although... uhm..."

"What is it, darling?" Rarity asked.

"If... if it's not too much to ask?" Rainbow's hooves squirmed against a leather sleeping mat. "Could... mmmm... one of y-you stick around? While I sleep?"

Twilight bilnked. "You're expecting more nightmares again?"

"Yeah, well..." Rainbow bore a tiny smile. "It'd at least be a relief that... if I wake up screaming... th-that I wouldn't be so alone when I wake up." She cleared her throat. "You've no idea how dark it can get out here in the middle of nowhere."

The mares exchanged glances.

"Of course it's not too much to ask, Rainbow," Fluttershy said with a smile. She drifted over and sat by her side, phasing slightly through the tent as she did so. "I will be right here all night."

"You sure?"

Fluttershy winked. "Pinkie Pie swear."

"Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Pinkie fell back. "Shnorrrrrrrrrrrr!" She vanished into lavender light.

Twilight rolled her eyes, then stifled a squeaky yawn. "Good night, Rainbow Dash. Here's to a long journey tomorrow."

"Only the longest..." Rainbow waved at Twilight and Rarity as they both vanished into the light. She sighed. "That's never going to stop sending chills up my spine."

"Forget about it," Fluttershy said. "Just close your eyes and rest."

Rainbow shuddered, lying down on her belly. "One good thing about traveling west."

"Yes?"

Rainbow closed her eyes. "I don't have to have Yaerfaerda staring me down as I try to sleep."

"Let's not think about that right now. Oh! I know! Want me to tell you a bedtime story?"

"Mmmmmmmm..." Rainbow Dash nuzzled her sleeping mat as her breaths grew more and more softly apart. "Nah."

"...how about a lullaby?"

"... ... ..." Rainbow Dash swallowed. "...maybe a short one."

"Heehee..." Fluttershy's wings fluttered. "Considered it done."

And Rainbow Dash smiled rosily into the darkness.

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