• Published 8th Sep 2012
  • 3,975 Views, 412 Comments

One Mare's Worth - Equestria Buck Yeah



When Rainbow Dash's speed during a new trick turns out to be too much for her own good, she comes to realize how important she really is when she finds herself in a war-torn version of her old home.

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Chapter 13

Luna's blood had slowly run down Celestia's horn and between her fiery eyes. Five of her former most faithful students had just vanished away from in front of her to parts unknown. Her enraged command echoed violently in the empty throne room. Her two loyal guards still stood at the bottom of the short staircase that lead to the tarnished golden throne she once sat upon with pride, petrified at the sudden turn of events that unfolded in front of them.

The princess spun around when she didn't hear the sprinting away of hooves and growled at the horrified stallions, her eyes flaring. "What are you waiting for?! Round up the other guards and find them! Scour the city!"

"Y-Y-Yes, your highness!"

They darted past Luna's body and the maniacal Sun Goddess, the doors of the room magically opening and slamming closed behind them. Despite witnessing what most would call a horrid atrocity, they weren't about to say no to the Princess with the way she was acting, lest they wished to feel her wrath. Celestia took a deep breath and her eyes cooled but not her anger and feelings of betrayal. She glanced at the corpse of her sister and shook her head in disappointment. Her horn glowed brightly and she focused her magic carefully.

-----

In a burst of purple light, Twilight and her friends appeared just outside the castle walls on the far side of the moat around it. The great distance traveled took its toll on the lavender unicorn, but she had to get as far away from the crazed princess and as quickly as possible. After a moment, Twilight had caught her breath and sprinted in the direction of the train station. The others followed right behind her.

"Citizens of Canterlot," a disembodied voice echoed a few minutes later.

The girls came to a sudden halt and looked for the source.

"What was that?" Pinkie asked.

"A terrible tragedy has befallen our fair city, and indeed, all of Equestria."

"It's Celestia. Oh, this isn't good," Rarity said upon deducing the voice's identity.

The Princess continued as the populace and numerous guards gazed skyward, listening intently. "My sister Luna has conspired once again to usurp my throne and allow herself to be consumed by Nightmare Moon. She has been dealt with, but unfortunately, the threat does not end there. It pains me to inform you that the Elements of Harmony have also betrayed the throne and may now be loose in the city.

"I implore you all to stay indoors. If you happen to spot the Elements of Harmony, do not, under any circumstances, attempt to engage them. They are to be considered extremely dangerous. If you see them, speak with one of my royal guards as quickly as possible and inform them of our enemy's location. I wish for them to be taken back to the castle alive. Their names are Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Applejack, Pinkie Pie, and Fluttershy. Be safe, my little ponies."

As she sounded each of their names, Celestia cast their images into the minds of everypony in the city at once, including them. Many of the citizenry were surprised at their mention and the sights of their faces. Others were confused. Some were horrified. The Elements ducked into a nearby alley upon seeing themselves appear thanks to Celestia, praying nopony saw them. Fortunately, it was starting to get late and the sun was on the way down, providing them a bit of natural cover.

"Whoa, nelly, we gotta get ta that train station, and fast!"

"That's the first place they're going to look for us, and we can't exactly just stroll out the front door," Twilight said. "Those are the only ways out of the city!"

"Then, what are we gonna do?!"

"I don't know! We've gotta sneak out of here, but I.. I just don't know what to do!"

The unicorn was on the verge of tears and shaking. She held her head in her hooves, her thoughts going in a thousand different directions at once. However, only one thought kept returning to the forefront of her mind: Her mentor, one of her closest friends, had just tried to kill them. Twilight had always been the one to come through with a plan in the past, but now, her whole world was falling apart.

"Well, we can't stay out here in the open. The guards will spot us when they start fanning out. We should sneak inside one of these buildings, preferably by a back door." Rarity suggested. "We can't stay there forever, but we may be able to figure out something."

"Yeah. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea."

With that, they snuck around to the back of the building they stood again. They tested the doorknob. Locked. With a flicker of her horn, Twilight forced the knob to turn, a quiet snap indicating the lock being broken. They crept inside and closed the door.

It looked to be a clothing store they went inside. The back room had numerous racks with dazzling, high quality dresses and suits. They found a doorway that led to the main lobby of the building. Twilight peaked around the corner. The store appeared dark and empty. It must have been after hours, but they couldn't afford to risk being up front near the windows, just in case some guards looked inside. Though it was unlikely they were going to break the glass just to inspect the place, it was very possible they would check the back door. They knew they couldn't linger.

Rarity looked behind them, checking for any unwanted intruders. She took a long glance at the racks and an idea formed.

"We could use some of these dresses as a disguise. Everypony in Canterlot usually wears something. We kind of stick out like this."

"That's a heck of an idea!" the country mare exclaimed.

"Look!" Pinkie said, pointing into the lobby. "They have some hats. We can use those too!"

Rarity scooped up five random headdresses from a distance and pulled them into the back room while the others grabbed random outfits. They quickly threw them on and the ivory mare set the chapeaus on their heads. Applejack protested at first, but Rarity managed to drape enough of the store's hat overtop the Stetson to render it invisible to the unassuming eye. If they were lucky, they may have been able to hide in plain sight and get away without being noticed.

"So, what do we do? Head ta the train station?" Applejack asked.

"It'll probably be our best bet. Though I don't know how we'd be able to get on board without creating a scene, if it's even there." Twilight reasoned.

"Even if we have to hoof it through the tunnels, it'd be easier to get away from the guards if we're being pursued. It's dark in the tunnels and there's only one way in or out of them. If we tried to go out through the front gate, they could easily just fly over the walls to catch us. It'd take a lot longer to fly over the mountainside," Rarity said.

"Ya could probably seal the first tunnel with your magic once we're out of it, too, Twilight," Applejack suggested.

"That assumes we're able to keep them off our tails as we gallop along that first long bridge that leads out of the station. We'd basically be sitting ducks out there, and we'd have to watch our steps. There are gaps in the track after all, and it'd be too easy to get a hoof stuck," Rarity added.

"I don't suppose you know of any secret passageways in the castle or anything?" Pinkie asked her lavender friend. "Castles always have some kind of hidden passages in stories."

"I'm afraid not. As far as the tracks go.. well, if we do happen to get to the tunnel, what about any guards? Won't they get hurt?" Twilight asked.

Rarity set a hoof on Twilight's shoulder. "Dear, I'm afraid we don't have much of a choice. The whole city is looking for us, and if we're caught, we're as good as dead. At this point, I don't know how many ponies' minds we could change if we tried to reason with them. We'll probably have to fight out way out one way or another, and against a rather large number of rather large guards."

Their ears and heads slumped. Many of the guards had known Twilight since she was little and came to like her, and they had shown their gratitude to the other Elements for everything they had done for Equestria before, but she knew Rarity was right. They had their orders, even if they didn't like them, and there wasn't much more they could do to make the situation any worse. Whether it was only to save their own skin or warn others about Celestia, they had to escape.

"Come on, dear," the white mare said to her depressed friend, "we need to get going. Are we all set?"

They nodded together and got to their hooves. They headed to the rear entrance and slowly filed out of the building, checking overhead and around the corner. So far, it was still quiet in the streets. Most of the Canterlot citizens had vacated the area, save for an occasional straggler, and the girls didn't see any guards just yet. Cautiously, they exited the alley near the front of the store, trying to look inconspicuous. They trotted briskly toward their intended destination, keeping their eyes peeled for Celestia's troops. They had been on their way for about ten minutes before their hearts skipped a beat.

"You five there, stop!" a voice yelled from above.

The girls came to a sudden halt. Slowly glancing up so as not to reveal their faces under the large brims, they saw a pair of the Princess' pegasus guards. They collectively held their breath, hoping they wouldn't land.

"What are you doing out? You heard the Princess! There are fugitives loose in the city!"

"Have you seen any of the mares her Highness showed us?"

Twilight spoke up, badly disguising her voice, "Uh, n-no sirs. We, uh.. we just finished closing up shop and were on our way home."

"Make your way quickly then. There's no telling where they may be."

"Y-Yes sirs. Right away, sirs," Twilight stammered. Despite her better judgment, she spoke up before they were on their way, curious to know their opinion. "Sirs, I've heard about these Elements of Harmony before. What do you think about this? It doesn't seem like something they'd do."

Her friends looked nervously at one another. What was Twilight doing? The disguises had fooled the guards and they were instructed to leave. Why did she want to carry on anymore conversation with them?

The pegasi looked at each other. "It does seem a bit strange, but why would the Princess lie about something as serious as this?"

"Good point, I suppose. Well, we'll be on our way now. Good luck, sirs."

The guards nodded their thanks to the girls and flew away. An audible sigh came from each of their lips, but they knew they weren't out of the woods yet. They continued their march toward the city's only exit as quickly as they could without attracting any unwanted attention, staying close to the buildings and doing their best to avert their eyes from the windows they passed.

A few more aerial patrols flew overhead, two of which stopped to ask what they were still doing outside, similarly to their first encounter, before departing after being satisfied with the answer given. Just like before, they remained in the air to make a quicker sweep of the city. So far, the girls had been surprisingly lucky.

They had been making their way through the city's streets and alleyways for about twenty minutes after getting their disguises. Twilight peaked around a final corner and saw the train station in the distance. She scanned the area ahead as best she could in the faded light. She swallowed hard when she saw the small army of guards marching about. It was going to be nothing short of a miracle getting past them all. The tension in the air surrounding the station and the girls could have been cut with a knife.

The unicorn pulled back and hid herself in the shadows beside her friends. They looked around the corner as well and ducked back into hiding just as quick.

"We'll never get past all those guards! What are we going to do now?" Pinkie whimpered.

Twilight scanned over the area again. There simply wasn't any opening that would allow them to at least attempt to make a break for it. Making one of their own appeared to be the only option.

"Well, I suppose I could put a bubble around us and we- "

"Ahem," they heard from behind. The girls were so focused on what was going on in front of them, they had forgotten about everything behind them. They felt a sharp pain in the pits of each of their stomachs. They had been caught.

"Anything I can help you ladies with?"

Twilight gasped. She was petrified and relieved all at once. It almost made her throw up on the spot. The Elements turned around and saw Shining Armor standing before them. His expression was unreadable as he looked them over under the large hats they hid under.

He suddenly swiveled his head in all directions, checking for patrols. There were none in sight for the moment. He turned back to the five friends and smiled, nodding the opposite way from their intended destination.

"Come on, we've gotta get you out of here," he said with authority. "You'll never make it that way."

Before they moved, Twilight grabbed him with her magic, stopping him in his tracks. He turned and looked at her, confused about her actions. She was on the verge of tears.

"How did you know it was us?"

"Come on, Twiley, you honestly think I wouldn't recognize my own sister's hair color and coat? I've been following you for a bit, keeping an eye on you all. I wasn't going to let anypony take you away," he assured them.

"You don't believe what Celestia said, do you?"

He shook his head, "Not in the least. I've seen how she's been acting for a while. There's been something.. off about her. She's not the same mare we had to come respect as a leader over the years."

"She killed Luna, Shiny. She just.. killed her!" The unicorn's head sank slowly with tears falling down her cheeks. The words hit her brother like a ton of bricks.

"What? Why?"

"I think after so many centuries of ruling, the pressures of her position finally.. got to her," Rarity spoke up. "From everything she said before she tried to kill us, I think she sees us as the straw that broke her back. One of our Elements has been missing for a few years now. It seems those same years have been.. rather difficult on her, I believe."

"But why kill Luna over that? That doesn't make any sense."

Rarity continued, "Luna recommended she get away for a while and cool off. When she offered to take over her responsibilities, Celestia just.. snapped. She thought her sister was trying to take over again as Nightmare Moon."

His jaw nearly hit the ground. He didn't want to believe it, but he said it himself. Celestia hadn't been well lately. Nopony could have guessed things would have taken the turn that they did. He briefly mourned for the deceased Princess and collected himself. It was more imperative now than ever that he get his sister and her friends out of the city as fast as possible.

"Follow me, keep your heads down, and don't speak unless spoken to. Let's go."

"Where are you taking us?" Pinkie asked as they trotted behind him.

"To the chariot take-off point."

"Uh, beggin' your pardon, but doesn't that mean we gotta go back inta the castle?"

"Just for a short distance. Most of the castle should be checked already, and by the time we get there, a majority of the guards will be out in the streets looking for you," Shining Armor explained. "There shouldn't be much resistance. A few at the entrances and maybe a little at the chariots themselves. The only one we'll have to watch out for is Celestia, but I'll get you through. I promise. I know there are other guards that are having difficulty believing what she said, too."

-----

The group nonchalantly entered the front door to the main lobby and hung a quick left, doing their best to stay incognito. Shining Armor had told any guards they bumped into that he found them in the streets and wanted to get them to safety as quickly as possible, offering them a room for the evening. None questioned it. Why would they? He was their captain, after all. Besides, they really didn't want a fight to break out in the middle of the castle. They'd all have been caught and tried for treason without a doubt, including Shining Armor.

"It's just up the hall this way and to the left. Almost there," the captain said.

After several paces, they turned and exited out an arched doorway. Ahead of them, at the end of the walkway, was a large landing area with many chariots ready for flight overlooking the land far below. Two stallion pegasi, one off-white and one a darker grey, stood guard in front of them. The group approached with a hint of caution. They were constantly looking over their shoulders, praying they didn't see anymore sentries. But, just as Twilight's brother predicted, the castle had been relatively barren.

"Captain Shining Armor," the guardians saluted, "what brings you out here this evening? And who are these ponies?"

"At ease, stallions." Shining Armor glanced toward his sister and her companions before taking in a deep breath. He needed to choose his next words carefully. "Interesting night tonight, huh?"

"Indeed, sir. I never would have imagined the Princess telling us something like that."

"Yeah. Seems a bit.. well, unusual. Sudden. What do you both think? Do you think there's legitimacy to what she said?" Shining Armor asked them.

They looked at each other with uncertainty. It was known that the guards around the palace took shifts in various areas to become more acquainted with the whole of Canterlot Castle. This pair had seen how Celestia had been acting plenty of times over the last few years.

"Well, to be perfectly honest, sir.. no. I remember your sister when she was studying personally under the Princess. There's no way in the world she'd do anything like what we all heard. I don't believe so, at least."

"Nor do I. The Elements of Harmony turning on Equestria? That just sounds ridiculous. They're its protectors. Why would they do such a thing? Makes no sense to me."

"Please don't punish us, sir. We were only answering your question."

Shining Armor lifted a hoof to calm their fears and smiled. "Don't worry. I'm glad to hear somepony else feels the same way I do. That's what I'm asking you both for the biggest favor that you'll ever be asked."

He stepped to the side and the five mares stepped forward quietly. The captain lifted their hats just off their heads, revealing their faces to the pegasi. They gasped in surprise.

"Captain, you realize what'll happen if you get caught with them?"

"You let me worry about that. I'm sure you'll understand too, once I ask the favor. I need you both to fly them down to the ground, out of sight of the others as best you can. You'll be flying into the sunlight and most of the other guards are searching the city by this point," Shining Armor pleaded. "You're their only chance to get out of here. I'll watch over here while you're gone. If anypony asks, I'll come up with an excuse why you're not here. Try and stay below direct view of the city if you can. Hug the mountainside and get as low as possible."

He looked at his sister. "Twilight, when you're low enough to the ground, teleport yourself and your friends as far away as you can. When they do," he turned back to the guards, "you start making your way back up here as fast as possible. Do your best not to be noticed if you can help it. Can you do this for me? Please?"

The two stallions looked at each other hard and nodded confidently. Two tiny smiles graced their lips as they turned to their captain.

"Yes, sir. You can count on us."

"Thank you. Thank you both," Shining Armor said with a relieved smile. The five friends beamed with tears forming in their eyes at their rescuers.

"Let's get moving," Shining reiterated, placing the hats back on their heads. "We still need to be quick. Use the chariot on the far end. It'll be easier to hide your movements."

Twilight gave her brother a smothering hug and kissed him on the cheek before heading to their ride. "Thank you, Shiny. Please stay safe."

"You too, sis. Go on, get going."

With a nod, they let each other go. The guards were already strapped in place, ready to depart. When Twilight finally settled into the chariot, they were away. They looked back at the Royal Guard Captain with heavy hearts, wishing he could come with them. Within minutes, they were out of sight.

-----

The chariot had descended quickly toward the land far below Canterlot. All the while, the girls kept watching above, hoping they hadn't been spotted. So far, so good. They were about halfway down when Twilight spoke up to their escort.

"Thank you both so much. For everything."

"It's our pleasure, Miss Sparkle."

"What happened back there, anyway?"

The girls didn't want to relive the horrors they just went through in the Princess' throne room but felt their protectors still had a right to know.

"Celestia killed Luna. She thought her sister was trying to overthrow her like she tried to a thousand years ago when she became Nightmare Moon," Twilight explained.

They each cocked an eyebrow in surprise. "Why would she think that?"

"You've seen how Celestia's been acting lately?" They nodded. "Luna suggested she take a vacation and let her watch Equestria for her for a while. She saw it as a threat. She was about to kill us, too."

The guards' ears drooped in empathy. "We're sorry for you all."

"Thanks," she said with a weak smile. They all were exhausted, physically and mentally, from this whole ordeal, and it showed. Fluttershy was looking more traumatized than usual. In fact, she hadn't said a word since their experience with Celestia. All she seemed to be doing was staring into the distance.

Twilight looked below and saw the ground approaching rapidly. "I think I should be able to make this jump. Girls, when we get back into town, rush home and get your families and a few supplies like food and water. Take only what you need to survive. We've gotta disappear for a while, and we need to carry light."

"Where are we going to go?" Pinkie asked.

"What's the closest place to Ponyville?"

"Appleloosa, Ah reckon."

"Then that's where we're going. We just have to stay away from the roads at all costs. Once you're ready, head to Sweet Apple Acres. Be. Quick. It's the furthest out of town and the furthest south. We'll be heading that direction anyway," Twilight instructed.

Though the pegasi had their attention focused in front of them, Twilight smiled warmly at them. They felt the gratitude in her words. "We won't forget this. Thank you again."

They glanced back and smiled.

"Here we go, girls!"

In a flash of purple light, they vanished from the chariot. Seconds later, the Elements popped onto the ground many feet below their escort, who had turned around and were climbing back to the landing strip. Though Twilight was momentarily dazed from such exertion, she shook it off quickly and they galloped as fast as their legs would take them. She smiled softly and teared up while she sprinted.

'Thank you, BBBFF.'

-----

"Anyway, Rarity found the Crusaders playing at her Boutique, despite the hour, so they came with us. Spike 'n Big Mac too. Ah tried ta convince Granny Smith ta come, but she said she was too old 'n too tired ta go on such a journey, no matter the circumstances. We waited as long as we could for Fluttershy, 'n Luna knows we didn't want ta leave her, but we had no choice. We had ta get out o' there," Applejack said, hanging her head as she remembered the last time she'd ever see her yellow friend.

Rainbow had listened intently and, as the story went on, became more and more noticeably distraught. Her mouth hung open and her eyes glistened with tears.

"Anyway, we made it ta Appleloosa like Ah said, hid with the buffalo out in the plains until Derpy found us, got a small group of ponies ta help us bust out the Doctor 'n everypony else Celestia took as prisoner when she sacked Ponyville, grabbed what we could 'n set up a small base here. We've been fightin' her ever since."

Rainbow's lips quivered and her gaze slowly fell. The dry trails of tears on her cheeks became wet again. She now knew the whole story and felt worse than she ever imagined she could.

"It.. i-it's all my fault."

Applejack tilted her head sadly and reached out to her sobbing friend. "Rainbow?"

"It's all my fault! Celestia, this war, you, Twilight, Fluttershy, everything! It's all my fault!"

"What're ya talkin' about?"

"You said it yourself! Celestia said if I hadn't disappeared, n-none of that stuff would have ever h-happened! If I hadn't done that damn trick, I would have been there and none of this would have ever happened!"

She hunched over, tears pouring from her eyes like waterfalls into her lap. She could barely breathe. She wouldn't have cared if the whole world was watching her right now.

"Don't ya go thinkin' that! You didn't kill Luna. You didn't kidnap half of Ponyville 'n do who knows what to 'em. We couldn't have known that trick was going to do what it did. Don't go blamin' yourself for any of this, ya hear me?"

The broken pegasus sat there shaking.

Applejack's eyes began to water as well. "Rainbow.. please.. I-"

"Leave me alone."

The orange mare stood up quietly and hugged her friend, kissing her forehead. It felt as if somepony reached into Applejack's chest and crushed her heart. She honored Rainbow's wish and left the mess hall, turning one last time to look at her friend. Applejack had fought letting tears fall to stay strong for her friend. She failed.

Rainbow sat there on the ground in front of the table, depression numbing every cell in her body. She wanted to die.

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