• Published 29th Nov 2015
  • 3,734 Views, 124 Comments

Iron Wing and the Demolition Crew - QueenMoriarty

The Crystal War, as seen through the eyes of its most formidable soldiers.

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Rainbow - I Am the Rallying Cry

We hear them before we see them.

There are no barbaric chants. There are no screams of pain, or lashes of whips. There is only the crunch of snow beneath their hooves and the swish of their armor, echoing a hundred thousand times until it's louder than drums. It seems like such a normal noise, but I see the shivers run through our troops. Right now, strength doesn't matter to them. Nopony is thinking about our training, nopony is looking at the princess standing on top of the hill, and none of them are telling themselves that the crystal ponies are barely more than mindless shells. All they know is that Sombra's army has come, and they are many.

I look around at the Wonderbolts. If they have any fear in them, they aren't showing it. There's barely so much as a tremble in our ranks, and these helmets hide our faces so much that only our eyes are left to show what we're feeling. I don't see fear in those eyes, nor do I see doubt or hatred. I see the same steely look of determination that I've practiced in front of the mirror, this time reflected in all of them. They are my brothers, and my sisters. They are my battalion.

I take a step forward, and spread my wings. The whirr and clank of the mechanism, though small in the face of the marching, still draws the attention of everypony in earshot. The grunts in golden armor look to me, and I see admiration and hope. Just looking at me is melting their fears away. But it's not enough. They need to be brave.

"Tell me who you are." I don't raise my voice. I've never had to. They're hanging on my words. The answer starts small, a tiny whisper, but it becomes a shout by the time I can make out the words.

"We are ponies! We are warriors! We are Equestria!" Every sentence, every word, every syllable, fills them with strength. The echo of our voices as one fills this valley, and I hope the crystal ponies can hear us.

"Tell me, Equestria, what does the earth pony hold in their hooves?"

"Stones and earthquakes!" The earth ponies stamp their hooves, and I feel the ground shiver. I wonder if it is afraid of us.

"And tell me, Equestria, what does the unicorn hold in their horn?"

"Fire and death!" Magic flickers between our ranks, and the crackle of the spells makes my feathers stand on end. Two down, one to go.

"Well then, Equestria, tell me! What does the pegasus hold in their wings?" I flap my wings for emphasis. I rise barely an inch off the ground, but there is a cheer anyways. I look around for a moment, and see that every Wonderbolt is following my example. Spitfire is giving me such a glare, though.

"Thunder and lightning!" If the first shout was loud, this shout is deafening. I see something new in the eyes of our soldiers now, something that the crystal ponies will learn to fear before this day is done. It is not fear, but at the same time it is not courage. Truth be told, I don't think there's a word for the look on the soldiers' faces. 'Madness' doesn't even come close.

Then I see that Celestia is moving. Her guards square their shoulders and march forward with her. Her wings are spread, and she raises a hoof. I turn to look at my Wonderbolts, and the time for chanting is over. I meet their eyes, and they know as well as I do.

I turn just in time to see Celestia give the signal. No more speeches. Now, we ride.

I barely have to think before I am up in the air. The formation is second nature as we accelerate, Spitfire and Soarin falling in beside me. We see the advancing horde, and somewhere behind those helmets, they see us too. There are no words, no orders as the three of us dip into a dive. We haven't needed words for a long time.

The crystal horde's march becomes a charge, their straight and narrow ranks falling apart as their mission changes. I see the green glow in the slits of their eyes, and remember when the princess told us about them. They aren't seeing the armies of Equestria advancing on them. They're seeing something far worse, an evil that fills them with so much fear and hatred that the only thing they can think of is to kill it.

Sometimes, I wonder if what they see is themselves.

Then we are in the fray, and there is no time for philosophy. I see those blank helmets, those pointless spikes, those big black plumes, and I unleash the rage. The first pony I see gets both hooves square in the side of the jaw, and a small, horrible part of me laughs when I hear something crack under that helmet. They are sent sprawling across the snow, limp and hopefully lifeless, and I am already across the plain. I spread my wings, spin, and buck. There is a brief curse of pain, then another has fallen. I accelerate back up into the air, and come crashing down like the wrath of the sun upon the back of yet another mindless slave. The sound of their shattering spine is a terrifying music ringing in my ears.

I only dare to pause for a moment to survey the battlefield. It is hardly different than the thousand other plains and valleys and crevices where we have fought this war, and once again we seem to be matched. For every slave that falls, a soldier falls. We Wonderbolts give an edge, sure, but from down here, neither side seems to be winning.

I'm almost thankful at the sudden weight on my shoulders. Nothing like a good melee to take the edge off of a melancholy. Well, I say good; all it takes is a twist of my neck and a buck of my head to send the attacker flying. He manages to take my helmet off with him, but that won't do him any favors.

The moment my mane is free, even I can see the tides turn. The tail is easy to miss, sure, and in the heat of battle not everypony can see the wing, but you can't miss this rainbow on top of my head. I snarl for effect, and oh, the look in the soldiers' eyes.

There is one stallion, pinned down by three slaves. I meet his gaze, and he gets that look as he throws them off without the slightest effort. It's not hope. It's not faith. The closest word is certainty. He doesn't think I'm unstoppable, he knows it, and none of the gashes and scratches on my body can tell him different. I'm not Rainbow Dash to that stallion. I haven't been Rainbow Dash to anypony for a very long time. To him, I am the Iron Wing.

As I dart over to the next slave whose face needs a few more bruises, the wing feels heavier. It's more than a replacement limb. These days, it's a symbol, a flag for ponies who can't believe in politics, only in other ponies. I'm some kind of war hero, a walking, talking legend. Not a pegasus, but a phoenix. The scar that should have claimed my eye gave me the magic power to see weakness, the ear that got torn can hear pins drop amidst a salvo of cannon fire, and my fake wing is so fast I can barely keep up.

Sometimes, I feel more like a fairy tale than a soldier. Still, can't deny it gets results.

As I push the latest slave away, I notice a growing shadow. It's split off from that of the cliff, and I look up. Time slows to a crawl as I see it. It's a massive boulder, headed straight for me, fast as the charging horde.

My hoof raises on instinct, and part of my brain shouts at me to get out of the way. I could be across the battlefield before that boulder can fall another inch. But rational thought isn't entering into it. Fear seizes every muscle, and I find myself looking down. If I can't see it, the youngest part of my brain says, it can't hurt me.

I wait for the crushing feeling. I wait to see if I'm as strong as the stories say, if I've somehow become the Iron Wing that they whisper about in the dead of night when they think I'm asleep. But it doesn't come. Something falls in the snow in front of me, and something falls to both sides of me, but the massive boulder is nowhere to be seen.

I lower my hoof and look up at the cliff. I see the two slaves who must have pushed it over, and am about to launch at them when I see something in my peripherals. The boulder lies shattered in a million pieces around me, and the ponies responsible are flanking me.

Maud and Pinkamena Pie. If I had to choose one word to describe these mares, it would be 'smash'. All of the paperwork says 'demolition experts', but they spend so much time in the infantry that you'd never guess their real mission. Everything the soldiers say about me is true of them. Stronger than diamonds, faster than the blink of an eye, and more fiercely patriotic than the Equestrian flag itself. That, and at least one of them has a massive crush on me. Can never tell which one, though. They're pretty much mirrors to each other.

But as always, there's no time for sappy talk or awkward questions. They fire off simultaneous salutes, and I'm just about able to keep a beaming smile of gratitude off my face as I nod to them. I don't know if Sombra can see through the eyes of his slaves, but if he can, I don't want to betray any weakness. Give a feather, they take a wing.

Learned that one the hard way.

Author's Note:

Just a quick character study / POV of literally the most metal Rainbow Dash has ever been. Sorry if it's a little clumsy and inelegant, I'm kind of running on empty.

Expect at least two more chapters of this, this time from Maud and Pinkamena's perspectives.