• Published 4th Jun 2017
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Ofolrodi - Imploding Colon



Rainbow Dash traverses the perils of the Dark Side of the world to reach the Midnight Armory.

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At the Far Side

Thunder.

Shouting.

Pacing hooves and the rumble of the Firmaments.

A metal lens rotated to life. A flesh eyelid shook... quivered... then flew open, full of tears.

Flynn gasped deeply. The balding stallion stared heavenward with his one good eye.

The heavens stared back down at the Heraldite. Stars and constellations stretched for eternity. Dust clouds and galactic swirls obscured the space between the edge and boundlessness.

Flynn winced... grimaced. Gnashing his teeth, he forced himself into a sitting position.

As he rose... a ghastly sharp precipice of straight-edged granite wobbled before him, and all below was swirling tempest.

"Whoah—!" Instinctively, the unicorn scoot-scoot-scooted away from the Edge of the World... only to realize that it was actually dozens upon dozens of feet away. Flynn sat—slumped—on a stale plateau of dull blue rock... carved with a countless array of ancient grooves and scrapes. It was the hardest rock he had ever pressed his flesh against, and just staring at it made him feel as though his remaining optic nerves would rub dry. "Holy... h-h-holy siren panties..." He swallowed a lump down his throat as lightning flickered above and beyond, illuminating the fringes of perpetual night. "...all dry and crumpy-crustled..." He wiped bulbs of sweat off his light brown scalp. "We made it. We actually m-made it to—"

The stallion became aware of a severe migraine.

"Aaaugh!" Hissing, Flynn clutched his bald spot in two hooves as a weak pulse emanated from his horn. "On second thought... k-kinda wish I was on the receiving end of a Frostknifer's spear right about n-now..." Thunder rolled, and he immediately winced. "Not h-helping!" As his temples throbbed in pain, blood rushed back to his ears—and he realized he wasn't listening to thunder. "Uhm..." Weakly, Flynn craned his dizzied head to the side. "Who's shouting?"

"Big Show," rolled a deep voice from behind. "The aggrravated rrapscallion's been at it forr almost an hourr now..."

"For... for an hour?" Flynn finally turned away from the world's end. "Just how long have I been out of it, Kepler—?" He gasped, his good eye widening while his lens rotated wildly. "Holy shit! Wildcard!" He galloped over.

"It's alrright, frriend," Kepler calmly said. The wyvern knelt beside the battered, bruised, and bandaged griffon's side. He was busy wrapping gauze and a thick canvas material over the stub of Wildcard's left arm—where a prosthetic once resided. "I prromise you, it looks worrse than it trruly is."

"My arm!" Flynn wheezed, sliding up to Wildcard's side. He gawked at the missing metal apparatus. "My beautiful... beautiful arm!" His ears drooped, and the balding stallion smiled apologetically at the griffon. "Well... you know what I mean..."

Wildcard calmly shrugged... then offered a half-hearted gesture with his one good hand.

"I mean... sure, I remember things!" Flynn shuffled in place. "But I don't quite remember what took my carefully-crafted invention from you! No matter." He licked his lips as his horn glowed. "Just let me examine it and I'll be sure to fix—"

"No, brrotherr!" Kepler insisted, waving a desperate claw. "I wouldn't do that if I werre you—"

Too late. Flynn tried using magic... and the resulting jolt of pain nearly threw him backwards like a hard right hook. "Aaaaugh! Shit nuggets!" He fell hard on his flank, wincing all over. "Hoooooooo sweet baby calves..." He rubbed his weakly glowing horn. "...feels like a steamtrain just had a vodka honeymoon with my skull!"

Wildcard whistled.

"You mean you don't remember?" Kepler remarked. Sighing, the wyvern adjusted his spectacles. "I was afrraid of that. Yourr split-second herroics torre severral of the leylines affixed to yourr nerrvous system."

"You..." Flynn sucked oxygen through his teeth, afraid to so much as tap his own horn. "You m-mean I'm suffering a metanervous mana-concussion...?"

"Brrought upon by overrexerrting yourr telekinetic abilities." Kepler nodded. "Most definitely. If you sit tight and relax yourr horrn, you should rrecoverr in a day or two... if you'rre lucky..."

"This... this must be why I don't remember things."

"Focus on yourr thoughts," Kepler suggested, continuing to bandage Wildcard's limbs. "Trrace yourr shorrt terrm memorries back to the point in which you fell unconscious."

"Not all of us are meditative geniuses of Mortuana's School of Mountain Matronliness, Kepler," Flynn droned. He looked up past his cohorts. "Sometimes when we lose our minds, we just..." His jaw hung agape. "... ... ...lose our shit."

"What is it?" Kepler traced Flynn's line of sight. "Oh. That. Ha-Hah! Quite a rrremarrkable sight, yes?"

"I'll say..." Flynn exhaled.

He stared at the horizon—an act that took bending his neck... and shoulders backwards by quite a startling degree. There was no vanishing line in front of him like he was used to. Instead, if he stared straight ahead, he saw earth: rocks, valleys, mountains, canyons. All of it dark. All of it bleak. All of it shrouded in a hazy, hazy shadow and serenaded by cold and distant starlight. He could see the edges of the world—three of them, at least—only at a certain distance and beyond.

"But... but..." Flynn murmured like an infant foal. He looked to his left.

There was a discernible horizon—but he could scarcely tell where it vanished from where it solidified into upwards, bending earth. When he looked to his right, he got the absolute same sensation. The edge of the world stretched far, far away... further than either of his eyes—natural or unnatural—could scan. It was when he looked away from the world's end that he made out the edges of the rest of the world. And the rest of the world stretched upwards like a sloped wall—thousands upon tens of thousands of miles in length—until a hauntingly observable line formed the very opposite edge of that plane.

"...didn't... didn't expect..."

"To what?" Kepler calmly asked as more voices shouted in the background. "To see the terrrestrrial measurre in its entirrety? Ah! 'Tis the effect of dwelling oh-so-suddenly on the concave side of this worrld, my frriend!"

"I... I..." Flynn grimaced, his natural eye twitching as it traced the dark curve. The plane was so dark that it formed a black silhouette against endlessly swirling stars. Somehow, grasping the enormity of the world only made the entire piece of Urohringr seem even smaller. "I guess I didn't make good enough calculations." He gulped. "Without sunlight... or the direct obfuscation of the Firmaments—"

"It's like starring through the placid waterrs of a frreshly melted lake in sprring."

"Yeah. Yeah, I guess it is." Flynn jolted in place. "Wait." He raised a hoof to his face and his mechanical eye rotated, zeroing in on the blackest part of the plane's curve. "Do... do you see that?"

"Hmmm?" Kepler craned his hairy neck while tending to Wildcard. "Allow me to guess." He smirked slightly through his tusks. "Glowing lights? An otherrworrldly twinkling of sorrts?"

"Well... yeah." Flynn nodded. "Especially right in the center. I..." He looked at Kepler. "...I can't be the only one who sees it?"

Kepler shook his head. "Rainbow Dash has seen it. Ariel too."

"What is it exactly? A city of some sorts?"

"Think darrkerr, frriend."

Flynn could only wince. "... ... ...the Trinary War."

Kepler nodded slowly. "A bitterrsweet lighthouse for the path ahead, if I may darre say so."

"Yeah, well..." Flynn fumbled a hoof through his bandolier. "...good thing I brought some tools for the trip along. No need for things to ever get that bleak." He pulled out a compass and blinked at it. The needle was spinning counter-clockwise one second... then clockwise the next. "... ... ...well, that's disconcerting."

"Is it now coming back to you, brrotherr?" Kepler said, tying the last of Wildcard's bandages straight. "Ourr arrrival herre in the rrealm of chaos?"

"The Gondola. It... it had trouble along the way." Flynn stood up on wobbly hooves. He pivoted about until he saw the shattered gold remnants of the geodesic sphere in question. A platinum crate had been dragged over and it was leaking with the Herald's rattled supplies. "We... we ran into trouble." He rubbed his horn, wincing. "I... I had to save Remna and Wildcard. And..." Just then, a breath sharply left him. The stallion's ears instantly drooped. "Bard... ... ..."

Kepler and Wildcard exchanged glances. Both hung their heads. "How I wish you wouldn't have remembered that for a while, my frriend."

"How..." Flynn winced. He looked at Wildcard. "...why?"

Wildcard didn't move.

By then, the shouting had gotten so loud that it was shaking Flynn's aching skull. Groaning, he spun about and frowned into the thunderous scene. "Dammit... dammit Big Show... will you can it?! I'm trying not to die of grief and migraines over here!!!"

"Don't tell me to 'can it!'" Logan shouted. The obese stallion was pacing in angry circles, dragging the blunt end of his axe behind him—causing sparks to fly across the dead blue stone. "I'm trying to have a civil discussion with Missy McNoBalls over here!"

"'Civil'?! Hah!" Ariel scoffed. The gray coated mare hovered across from the earth pony, folding her forelimbs with an iron frown. "You're talking about cold-blooded murder!"

"Ain't nothing murderous about ridding a pest of its damned stupid neck!" Logan growled, pointing at a limp feathery figure lying on the fringes of the wrecked Gondola beside them. "If it weren't for her, we'd have made it here far more smoothely! What's more, a living breathing Divine would be on our side to ferry us all the way through this chaos festering shit-soup of a plane!" He gnashed his teeth. "But noooooo! Miss High-and-Mighty had to show her dumb beak up and ruin things! Then Miss Higher-and-Mightier had to spare her pathetic life! And right now I'm being lectured on morality by Miss-High-and-Hump-Her-Rainbowness!"

"If the Austraeoh says we're not to murder her, then as the Heraldic Seven we are bound and honored to obey!" Ariel hollered back.

"Not when it's a stupid-as-mud decision!" Logan retorted. "Look—we just went through Hell and came out the other side! And in all that time, Rainbow Dash's been banging her head against more numbskulls than the rest of us can even shake a stick at! Hello?! That's a recipe for having a screw loose if I ever heard one! No shit she's gonna crap out the wrong end every once and a while! I say we forget it and wipe a really cruddy smear off the map while we still have the eyeballs and brains to make any sense of its senselessness!"

"Are you saying that we directly ignore Rainbow Dash and exterminate Seraphimus?!"

"If we don't... we're the ones being exterminated!" Logan hollered. "It's a simple fact of life! Y'know! Facts? Farts are smelly. Grass grows. And this crazy chicken-bitch is going to stop at nothing to see us dead! So no way in Hell are we letting her go!"

"Wait..." Flynn hobbled in the direction of the arguing pair. "Seraphimus is... is..." His one good eye bulged as he regarded the unconscious figure in the shadow of Logan's axe. "Holy Hell... we brought her with us?!?"

"Yes, baldy," Logan belched aside, frowning. "We did. Or—much rather—Rainbow Dash did."

Ariel stomped her hoof. "She's our leader, Logan! And as her Eljunbyro—"

"—we're not about to abandon her by setting a psychopath from Frostknife free just so she can hunt us all down one by one and whittle the Herald away until there's only the Austraeoh left to defend herself!" Logan boomed. "Enough of us have bitten the dust as it is! Mortuana! Bard! Remna! Who's next, Ariel?! Huh?! Is it you? Gonna throw yourself in the bitch's slice-em-and-dice-em path just so your marefriend can feel better about herself?!"

"For crying out loud, Big Show, it's not that—"

"There's too much at stake now, girl!" Logan exclaimed. "The World! Urohringr... hell, all of the Urohringrs—"

"Wait. Remna?" Flynn did a double-take, grimacing. "Are you telling me that Remna's... that Axan's...?" Just then, his gaze caught a violet-scaled corpse in the distance. His one pupil shrank to a pinprick. "Oh Goddess..."

"Yes, Flynn. That's right," Logan huffed. "Axan's dead. The one ticket to the Midnight Armory that we never even knew we friggin' had... and she wasted her magical gift all on undoing this one shithead's crusade in the name of Verlaxion!" Schiiiiing! "I'd say we make it clean and we make it quick. After all—Hell—who knows?!"

"Big Show—" Ariel reached for the stallion and his axe.

Logan wielded the blade, undaunted. "She may have killed Bard too—"

Thwap! An angry talon gripped Logan's shoulder. Dark goggles glared into him, framed by Wildcard's even darker feathers.

"Oh, what?!" Logan sneered back at the three-limb'd griffon. "Gonna step up to the plate now of all times, buddy? Here! Lemme give you the axe! You can do the honors!"

"Seraphimus didn't kill Bard."

Logan and the others stumbled in place. They turned and looked up. "How do you know?"

Swooooooooosh! A blue streak touched down on petite wings. Rainbow Dash stood up straight, muscles coiling. Her short bangs billowed in the tempestuous winds of the world's edge, and the twilight beyond the firmaments glinted off dozens of fresh cuts and welts. "Applejack and Fluttershy tell me so. That's how."

"Oh. Great." Logan rolled his eyes as Rainbow Dash approached them. "Your girly-girly ghost pals suddenly vouch for Seraphimus' divine innocence!"

"They never said she was innocent," Rainbow muttered, brow furrowed.

"Rrainbow One..." Kepler reached out to her. "You arre so terrribly injurred. If you would just allow me to exam—"

Rainbow Dash shrugged him off, continuing her angry march towards Logan. "But you know who's definitely not innocent, Big Show? You. Me. Everyone here who's crazy enough to get this far to save the world that we'll go even further. And—if it takes just a tiny sliver of moral centeredness to enlist as much harmonic energy as possible to aid us in our journey, then I'm all for it. Because—you're right—we don't have a crazy huge fire dragon matriarch to make it easy for us. She did what was necessary for us to get here... and I'm not about to ruin it by having you—or anyone else—go friggin' psycho on souls for whom there's still hope!"

"Hope? Pffft!" Logan rolled his eyes. "What hope?! You heard her earlier when we were all dingleberrying off the world's edge! She's got nothing left to live for! Who says there's any hope in that?!"

"Me! Rainbow Dash flapped her wings until she was snarling in Logan's face. "I say that there's hope in that! You don't believe me. Fine. I'll toss you off the edge myself and you can go looking for the hope beyond the Firmaments!"

"Can we please stop yelling at each other," Ariel insisted.

"Harumph..." Logan folded his forelimbs as he glared back at Rainbow Dash. "Did Fluttershy feed you that idea as well?"

"As a matter of fact, no," Rainbow muttered, floating back slightly. "She's been doing all she can to dam my tears in since we landed here. It's Applejack—however—who wouldn't mind seeing your big fat butt go for a chaotic swim in the star soup!" A beat, and she winced before glaring over her shoulder. "Oh knock it off, egg head. We've been through a lot! Let me spitball!"

"Guys..." Ariel was gazing off in the distance, her wings twitching nervously.

"I swear..." Logan sneered at the petite pegasus. "I know I pledged my allegiance to you along with the rest of Mortuana's finest... but if your crazy-ass girl-scoutisms causes us to die at the end of Seraphimus' talon—"

"I'm not going to set her free to hunt us down, Big Show," Rainbow exclaimed. "We're going to tie her up and bring her with us."

"Pffffft! Oh really?!?" Logan practically cackled.

"Guys—" Ariel wheezed.

"You have a problem with that?!"

"And how on earth do you plan to make that happen, girl?!" Logan pointed at the griffon's limp arms. "She broke through the best binds that her own kind put on her! She flew to the edges of the world to slaughter you! What force on this damned earth is going to keep her foot from flying twenty thousand leagues up your butt?!"

Ariel flew in between them. "Hey!" she hollered. "Dipshits!"

Wildcard whistled shrilly.

After he was done, Ariel pointed towards the side—past the golden wreckage. "Will you look already?!"

Logan and Rainbow Dash pivoted about. Immediately, their eyes widened and their jaws dropped.

"Holy..." Logan exhaled.

"What the Hell...?" Flynn whimpered.

"My starrs and garrterrs..." Kepler breathed, adjusting his spectacles to see better.

As the Herald bore witness, a ruby light was emanating from the large battered corpse of Axan...

...and it was slowly rising towards the stars above in a frothy magenta cloud of otherworldly luminesence.

Ariel blinked. She turned to gawk at Rainbow Dash.

Rainbow paled, her ears and tail drooping as she plopped down onto her flank. The mare's eyes remained locked on the ethereal glow floating slowly above the scales and bones. After a dry gulp, she murmured aside: "No, Pinkie, I... don't think that's accurate... or appropriate to say at a time like this..."

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