• Published 8th Sep 2012
  • 4,016 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 18

"AAAAH!" Loo screamed. It wasn't the first time she'd been shot in battle, but it didn't make it any less painful. One bullet shattered her right shoulder and the other embedded itself into the left side of her stomach. Tears of agonizing pain fell from the corners of her eyes and she gritted her teeth, breathing through them hard, trying to fight off the millions of nerves that were suddenly stabbing at her.

A pair of malicious grins were on her assailants' faces. They could have easily finished her off, but the Party Crashers were widely known, and feared, among Celestia's troops. The pegasi had every intention of enjoying inflicting as much misery on Loo as possible.

"NO!" Rainbow shrieked. In an instant, the hateful words the two exchanged on the way to the base didn't exist. Her friend was hurt, maybe worse.

The soldiers jerked their heads to the right in surprise. They hadn't initially seen the light blue mare partially hidden behind the table sitting on its side. Loo's orange coat stuck out like a sore hoof in the gray and white plastered room. Their eyes suddenly darted past Rainbow and focused on the wall. Their mouths opened slowly, a tidal wave of fear and uncertainty overcoming them.

Rainbow took advantage of whatever the distraction was and unsheathed the other sidearm she had on her with the subtlety of a buffalo stampede. She swung the hoofgun in front of her and scowled in anger. Unrepentantly and without the hesitation that plagued her earlier, she unloaded the rest of the clip into their would-be killers. Splatters of blood decorated the wall behind them as the bullets passed through their flesh. They fell to their haunches and slumped over in a pair of heaps.

..chik chik chik chik chik chik chik chik..

Her empty gun's futile attempts at firing more bullets was the most deafening thing in the room. Her breathing had become heavy as she released her rage and ended the lives of their attackers. It took several seconds for Rainbow to realize that the short battle was over before lowering her firearm.

She took a deep breath and stood up clumsily, stretching her back and feeling relief at the cracks that went up her spine. Whatever caught the soldiers off-guard was irrelevant at the moment. She dodged around the table and knelt down by her injured partner. With as much strength as she could muster, she lifted and tossed aside the broken sections of the door that irrevocably prevented Loo from being blown to pieces from the start.

Rainbow's eyes started to water as she looked over Loo's wounds. She wasn't a doctor, or really a soldier for that matter. She had no idea what to do. She blinked as a moment of clarity hit her.

"Girls? You there?" Rainbow said as she activated her walkie-talkie.

"Yeah, Rainbow, what's up?" Pinkie responded.

"It's Loo. She's been shot!"

"She alive?"

"Yeah, but I don't know how bad she's hurt."

"I'll get Belle over there right away."

"OK. We're at the end of a long hall downstairs. Last door on the left. You guys OK out there?"

"Yeah, just finishing up. We'll be there soon after Belle. Just keep pressure where she was shot. Should help slow the bleeding."

Rainbow turned her attention to bullet hole on Loo's stomach and gently pushed down with a hoof. She didn't have any rags or towels, so she had to make due. The orange mare shook violently and her entire face clenched up. Loo was breathing heavily and blood was flowing from the wound like a river, staining Rainbow's blue hoof into a dark shade of reddish purple.

A couple minutes later, Belle galloped into the room, saw Loo laying on the floor, and put away her numerous weapons. She grimaced and shook her head.

"Jeez, Loo, again? What the hay?" she sighed. "Watch out, Rainbow."

The pegasus took hold of the machine gun Loo dropped and stepped back and gave Belle some room. She leaned in close to her comrade's shoulder injury and her horn came alive. After a moment of focus, she closed her eyes and a faint glow emerged from inside the wound. With a gentle magical tug, the bullet slipped out of her body. Loo's clenched her eyes shut even harder as the pain temporarily spiked.

Loo was still bleeding, however. After the shot was removed, Belle returned to the damaged shoulder and her horn glowed again. A small laser beam of magic found its way into the hole and expanded the entire width of the wound. The skin fizzled quietly and fused the hole closed as the faint blue glow dissipated. Loo's lips quivered as her shoulder was treated for the trip home.

Belle tore Loo's blood-soaked top where she had been shot, revealing the injury to her stomach. Her horn glowed again and she carefully began removing the bullet, making sure not to further damage any flesh or internal organs that may have been lacerated. Loo slammed her hoof on the floor when the slug was finally taken out. Her pulse was racing as her body screamed at her.

"OK, Loo, this is going to hurt," Belle said.

Without waiting for a response, she trickled another ray of magic into her stomach, taking special care to not overdo the cauterization. When her flesh started to burn shut, Loo roared so loudly, Rainbow thought they could heard her all the way over in Canterlot. When the impromptu surgery was complete, Belle rubbed a hoof through Loo's sweat drenched mane, trying to get her to relax. She'd still need an actual doctor to seal the injuries properly when they returned to Ghastly Gorge, but for now, it'd have to do.

As Rainbow, Belle, and Loo waited for the others to arrive, the sky blue mare looked at the corpses of the two stallions that almost took Loo away from them. Her first confirmed kills. She was a murderer. It made her stomach turn. And yet, a small part of her was happy to have done it. Even though they didn't see eye to eye in this insane new world Rainbow had been forced into, losing Loo would have broken her all over again.

Rainbow suddenly felt an unusual presence in the room now that her mind wasn't going berserk. It felt almost otherworldly and yet strangely familiar. A bright glow tickled the corner of her eye and she looked at the wall behind where she laid a moment ago. She let out an audible gasp, instantly aware of what distracted their attackers.

A long, wide crack stared back at her. Not only was it on the wall, but it also looked as if it was cutting through the projector screen that hung an inch away from it. Insanely enough, the screen itself didn't appear damaged; the crack was there but simultaneously not there. An empty, hollow feeling overtook Rainbow as she stared into the bright light emerging from the break in reality.

"What the hay...?" she mumbled.

"What is it, Rainbow?" Belle asked, still tending to Loo.

The young mare didn't respond.

"Rainbow?"

Belle turned and saw her teammate gawking at something in front of her. Confused, she looked in the same direction. Her eyes shot open and her pupils shrank. She wanted to speak up, ask what was going on, but words failed her. Belle had never in all her years seen anything remotely close to resembling the glowing crack sitting in front of them. She nearly forgot about the injured mare on the floor in the process.

A moment later, A.B. and Pinkie met up with the rest of the group. They stepped around Rainbow and the two dead stallions to examine the situation. It was pretty nasty, but they had seen Loo in worse situations. Still, they felt bad that she was hurting at all.

Pinkie tossed some debris out of the way and leaned over and examined Loo. A.B. hung back beside Rainbow, who still hadn't averted her perplexed gaze from the mysterious crack. The presence of Belle's superior was the only thing that took her attention off the anomaly.

"Can you get up, Loo?" Pinkie asked.

Through gritted teeth and heavy breaths, she nodded and slowly hoisted herself to her hooves, making sure to take pressure off her right leg. Every movement made her stomach erupt in pain. She collapsed onto her hocks and held onto her injury.

A.B. glanced at the dead pegasi against the wall and then at Rainbow as Pinkie inspected Loo. She pieced together that Rainbow must have been the one who killed them. A small smile graced her lips. It seemed that her light blue friend was learning to adjust to getting her hooves extremely dirty well enough. The smile faded just as quickly as it arrived when A.B. noticed Rainbow's fixed stare. She turned and gasped, immediately sharing the expression of shock that covered Rainbow's face.

"Easy, soldier. Belle, get her on Rainbow's back," Pinkie said.

A blue aura surrounded Loo and she was carefully lifted into the air. Pinkie approached the cyan pegasus and put a hoof on her shoulder.

"Rainbow, lean down. We need you to carry Loo."

She continued to stare. It was almost as if the glow was whispering to her, telling her not to look away.

"Rainbow," Pinkie repeated. When she still didn't respond, the pink pony followed her old friend's eyes and found the object of everypony's fascination. Even Loo in her pain-stricken state was able to spot the freak occurrence. By now, all five of the party's mouths hung open in equal parts amazement and horror.

"What in Equestria...?" Pinkie asked nopony in particular.

Without looking away, she gently pushed down on Rainbow's shoulders, the light blue mare unconsciously getting the idea. She bent down slightly and Belle began to set Loo comfortably on Rainbow's back. However, there was a small obstacle that prevented the unicorn from laying her down easily.

She eyed the area that gave her some sudden trouble and blinked. "Rainbow, your wings. You actually moved them a bit," Belle said.

It was enough to snap her attention, as well as that of the others, from the heavenly glow. They knew she had been doing her exercises almost every waking minute of every day that she was able to. They hadn't ever seen any results so quickly in anypony else, even if Rainbow only did open her wings by an inch or two. Unfortunately, she couldn't return them to their relaxed positions. With a gentle push, A.B. set them back into place, allowing Belle to prop their companion onto Rainbow.

"Huh. How do you suppose that happened? I was even trying or thinking about it," Rainbow said curiously.

"You've been through a lot today," Pinkie said. "I wouldn't be surprised if your nerves were going crazy enough for them to do something like that. Have you been upstairs yet?"

The five returned their nervous stares at the crack.

"Not yet, no. Haven't seen the weapons room either, but I saw the kitchen. I know you wanted to grab some stuff from each before we left."

"OK. A.B., come with me upstairs. Belle, you stay with them and grab some food and drinks. If we run across some weapons, we'll take what we can," Pinkie instructed. "Come on, we need to get moving." Her usual authoritativeness was drained thanks to ogling the wall.

Slowly, they crept out the door one by one, taking a final look at the rip. Belle pulled out several hoofguns as A.B. and Pinkie trotted ahead to the staircase. They quickly glanced up and, seeing no resistance, ascended cautiously. Belle and Rainbow stepped into the kitchen and headed for the fridge.

Compared to the cave back in the gorge, this hangar's kitchen was fit for a palace. It had a surprisingly fresh smell, clean tile floors and countertops, and, if the generator hadn't been destroyed, electricity.

Rainbow stood guard as Belle grabbed what she could from the icebox. There was a lot that could spoil once removed from its normally cool compartment, so unfortunately, she was forced to leave a sizable amount of food. Drinks were plentiful and she filled Rainbow's saddlebags with what she could. After finding and taking whatever grub that wouldn't go bad, the pair, with Loo in tow, stepped back into the hallway and kept a vigilant eye out for any uninvited guests.

Some hushed gunfire spoke up from over their heads. It seemed Pinkie and A.B. found some more of Celestia's troops. If the rest of the past hour was any indicator, they were in no danger. A few explosions went off occasionally after the gunfight had stopped, shaking the complex around them. Rainbow figured they must have found some machinery that needed to be taken out.

Several minutes later, the pair of earth ponies came trotting down the staircase. There was a faint hint of smoke wafting in the air. Pinkie and A.B. had picked up a few choice machine guns and some grenades. They wanted to grab more stuff, but they ran out of room, plus they couldn't be sure that any ammunition they took would work with what they were currently using.

Once they all reunited, they went from room to room, making one last sweep through the control room and adjoining offices, blowing up any computers or equipment they came across. They didn't run into anypony else, and considering that every exit was either blocked or otherwise impassible, if somepony was around, they wouldn't have been alive for long.

The group exited the hallway and returned to the main, expansive lobby of the hangar. Through the windows to their left, tongues of fire flickered into the air and thick black smoke filled the many rooms that burned. The Party Crashers trotted to the far side of the building where some of the jets still sat, relatively unblemished by the small war that happened just a short while ago. Loo had done quite a number on approximately half of the attack planes, but the rest still needed to be dealt with.

Belle and A.B. nodded at each other and trotted up to the first in the line of undamaged planes. With a flicker of the unicorn's magic, the cockpits opened themselves one after another. When she popped the final glass dome open, she winked back to A.B.'s position. The earth pony lobbed a grenade into the first seat from a short distance as a blue magical shield appeared in front of the pair of ponies. The nose of the plane exploded, several large chunks of metal collapsing onto the floor. There were six intact jets left at that point, but one by one, they met with the same fate.

"That looks like everything. We ready to go?" Pinkie asked.

The girls went over a mental checklist together and determined there was nothing left to do. With the offices burning, the planes mangled beyond repair, and bodies littering the internal landscape, the girls looked around for a way out, but found none. An idea hit Pinkie and she moved toward the large gap in the line of destroyed fighter planes where one suicidally brave pilot tried his hoof at taking the Party Crashers down. The rest followed a few paces behind with Loo groaning as Rainbow's weight shifted around underneath her.

Pinkie planted her hooves and whipped out the PC 9000 from out of nowhere once again and smashed a hole in the side of the building. In spite of the heavy material it was made out of, the pink mare effortlessly lifted the cannon onto her shoulder and they exited the hangar.

They looked at the row of relatively unscathed jets to their left. Once this last bunch was dealt with, their mission would be complete.

Belle examined the strap around her chest that housed her grenades. Five left. She winked herself and A.B. away to the far eastern side of the asphalt where she had finished sabotaging the fighter jets earlier. Simultaneously, five of the cockpits opened, encompassed by a light blue glow. Belle levitated the last of her grenades over the seats and pulled the pins, dropping them in and surrounding the pair in a magical shield. A few seconds later, five explosions erupted, decimating the nose cones as they did inside the hangar.

A.B. removed a few grenades from her own strap, and she and Belle continued up the row of planes, opening the cockpits and lobbing grenades into them. As the pair wreaked havoc, Pinkie set the PC 9000 on the ground and rolled it to the closest jet that wasn't blown to pieces by the bombs Belle set up earlier. Not wanting to set herself up for a sudden ambush, Rainbow followed close behind.

Pinkie motioned for the pegasus to step back. When the colonel felt the pegasi were at a safe enough distance, she fired her cannon and utterly annihilated the first plane. It was hit with enough force that it slid a few feet while it practically split in half. The pink mare marched toward A.B. and Belle, destroying each plane as she went. It didn't matter that they couldn't fly thanks to having their control panels knocked out. That was relatively easy to fix. Ripping the jets into tiny pieces, not so much.

New thick clouds of smoke poured from the now ravaged attack vehicles as the two groups met in the middle of the carnage. They surveyed the damage and grinned, satisfied with their success. Even the exhausted Loo managed a coy smirk. Pinkie returned the PC 9000 and nodded approvingly at the others.

"Nice job, team. Let's head home."

-----

It had been a relatively quiet trek back to Ghastly Gorge. Despite Loo being injured, they didn't lose much time during the return trip. Rainbow proved that her increased bulk did more than just show off her muscles and carried the similarly built orange mare quite easily.

From time to time, Loo insisted that she could make it without their help and would fly a few feet off the ground for a distance. It was a minor strain on her, thanks to the injury to her stomach, and eventually would need to fall back to the earth. Despite protests, Belle would always prop her back on top of Rainbow. Walking with a bum shoulder could possibly mean adding another day or two to the journey, and staying out in the open was always a bad idea.

Loo didn't admit it, but she had no desire to be carried around by the same mare she was chewing out only a few days ago. She took every opportunity she could get to get off of her former idol. Being forced to lay on her back made her feel unclean. The fact that she was still alive was enough to remind her that Rainbow probably saved her flank. Between being lugged around like a helpless foal and being indebted to the blue mare, Loo had never felt more embarrassed by anything in her life. She couldn't even think of anything she did trying to earn her cutie mark when she was a kid that felt as humiliating as this.

The others congratulated Rainbow on making a surprising bit of progress when she had moved her wings during the mission, even if it was only a short distance. Remembering her small victory gave the pegasus even more reason to push herself back into the sky as quickly as possible. When the girls started their heavy chattering, Loo feigned pain-related fatigue and closed her eyes. She didn't need to sleep, but she couldn't bring herself to join in the merry conversation.

-----

The Party Crashers had made it back to the base nearly a day and a half faster than it took to arrive at their mission's destination. They owed it to Loo to get her fixed up as quick as they could, despite the great distance they had to traverse. Skipping a few meals and sleeping a few hours less each evening made a world of difference.

The doctors at the command center got Loo into surgery immediately once they were informed of her predicament. She wasn't going to be in surgery long, and even though she and Loo had butted heads a few times, Rainbow was worried for her. Pinkie and the others assured her that she would be OK, that she had been through at least eight or nine major surgeries in all the years the war had been going on. After hearing such a thing, Rainbow wondered how Loo's body hadn't started falling apart yet.

-----

The orange mare wasn't in surgery too long, maybe a couple hours. Her injuries weren't anything the surgeons hadn't seen before, on her or any other patient.

Rainbow sat against the wall the entire time she was being worked on. While she waited, she and Commander Derpy discussed how things went on her first real mission. Needless to say, she had been incredibly nervous, but Derpy was proud of her. She recalled one of the earliest full blown battles many years ago, of how ponies would see their friends and loved ones dying in horrific ways right in front of their eyes and have nervous breakdowns, of how others would turn tail and hide or desert the battlefield altogether at the first sounds of gunfire.

Rainbow stuck by her friends and even fought off her fears enough to save one's life. Derpy was particularly impressed with how she handled her first kills. Taking somepony's life was one of the hardest things for most of the soldiers on both sides to do when the fighting first broke out. Nowadays, it was as common as air.

The sky blue pegasus couldn't help but boast happily about making her artificial appendages move. Unbecoming of a high ranking soldier, Derpy gave her a high hoof. Considering the circumstances, it was doubtful that anypony would have minded the expression of joy. Others who had been forced to go through what Rainbow did reacted similarly when they had turned their own corners.

-----

The Party Crashers watched over Loo while she slept in the recovery room after the doctors had finished stitching her back up. Happy to see their lifetime companion out of surgery again, Belle and A.B. shook their heads jokingly and grinned. Was Loo ever not going to be getting some life threatening injury? After a short time, Pinkie, A.B., and Belle headed out to let Loo get her rest.

Rainbow opted to stay until she woke. She felt that she owed it to her. If Loo hadn't throw her away from the door, she could have been killed just as easily as her orange friend could have been thanks to Celestia's pawns.

Curious, Rainbow quietly walked over to Loo and pulled away the sheet. For some reason, she needed to see the extent of the closed wound. What she found on the rest of the orange mare's body made her mouth hang open. There was no less than eight scars on her chest alone. With a frown, she covered her friend back up.

She returned to her seat by the wall and nodded off soon after. Even in a heated time of war, boredom came quickly to Rainbow.

-----

It was barely an hour when Loo began to stir. The young blue mare heard the weak groan and woke up as well. She moved up to Loo's bed and sat down, smiling in relief that she was alright.

"Hey. How you feeling?" Rainbow asked.

"Been better," Loo weakly said. "Been worse too I guess."

The relieved mare chuckled. "Yeah, that's quite the landscape you've got going on there on your body."

"You saw the scars, huh? What can I say? I seem to have a knack for getting hurt," Loo said with a little smirk.

Rainbow rolled her eyes and smiled. Loo's sarcastic attitude sure hadn't gone away over the years.

"The others...?"

"They wanted to let you get some rest."

Loo nodded and took a relaxing, deep breath. After a moment of quiet, the bedridden pegasus sighed and asked a simple question.

"Why?"

Rainbow was hurt.

"What else was I supposed to do? You saved my flank back there. If you hadn't tossed me out of the way, I would have been killed."

"Was just following orders. Commander said to keep you safe, so I did. Besides, I wouldn't expect you to just let me die," Loo explained. "But, that's not what I mean. You're here, now, and you're not resentful or.. or smug over me getting busted up after what I said about you back there. I.. I don't understand."

Rainbow smiled softly and took Loo's hoof. "Element of Loyalty, remember? I don't leave my friends hanging, and I never give up on them. Even if they've given up on me."

Loo looked away silently, a hint of guilt taking hold inside her.

"You get some rest. I'll see you later on, OK?"

The purple-maned pegasus blinked at her guardian. "Yeah. Good idea."

Rainbow released Loo from her grip and turned away, heading out into the hallway and off to the kitchen for something to eat. Loo sighed heavily when she was finally alone and fell asleep.

-----

Back at a ravaged air strip outside Baltimare, two patrol planes flew in low, initially trying to land and dock. Unfortunately for them, the facility was completely torn apart. The control tower had collapsed, the communications tower was in pieces and every last jet on the airfield was destroyed in one way or another. Even the building itself had holes in multiple places and the doors looked heavily damaged.

"Celestia, what happened out here?" a rose colored mare pilot said to her partner.

"Looks like somepony found them out. We need to tell the Princess about this right away."

"Do we even have enough fuel to get to Canterlot?"

The other pilot, a light orange stallion with a mane streaked in two shades of brown, looked at the fuel gauge on his panel. "Yeah, should be OK. It'll be close, but we should make it."

"We better. You know how angry Celestia will be if we're forced to dump a couple of jets in midair trying to get to the main base, even if we're heading there for good reason," the mare stated.

"Yeah, good point. Let's not linger anymore then."

With a burst of acceleration, the jets headed toward the Equestrian capital city.

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