• Published 8th Sep 2012
  • 3,952 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 19

A warm feeling rose in Rainbow's chest. Loo was alright and her first trip into battle had come to a close. She had come away without any injuries and had even managed to lift her wings, even if only a tiny bit and seemingly involuntarily. It was a start. Every journey begins with a single step, as the saying went.

The next thing she wanted to attack was the fridge. She trotted toward the kitchen with a spring in her step. For once, she didn't care how cool she looked in front of anypony else.

She found a familiar pink mare munching on a few carrots with her back to the doorway when she arrived in the mess hall. When she finally saw Pinkie without all the equipment on, she looked passably normal, save for the branding on her flank. Doing a quick scan of her body, Rainbow didn't notice any scars. Pinkie wasn't aware of her presence just yet. She was busy mentally reviewing the most recent battle, trying to determine if there was anything they could have done better in preparation for the next inevitable conflict.

Rainbow stepped up to her old friend and laid a hoof on her shoulder, greeting her with a warm smile. It caught her attention quickly, and for a moment, Pinkie stared silently into her big ruby eyes. The pink pony looked behind her at the door, listening for any approaching hoofsteps and making sure they were alone. When she was sure they were undisturbed, she shot to her hooves and wrapped her legs around Rainbow in a rib cracking hug. Tears of joy began to form in her baby blue eyes. The startled mare wanted to reciprocate, but Rainbow's forelegs were caught in her embrace.

"Heh, Pinkie! Can't.. breathe!" Rainbow gasped.

"Oh.. sorry. Heh, forget my own strength sometimes," Pinkie replied, releasing her vice-like grip and embarrassingly rubbing her hoof behind her neck.

"It's OK. What was that all about? You didn't do that when you first saw me," the pegasus teased.

"I'm supposed to be the resident bad flank around here. I've gotten kind of a reputation as the perfect warrior. Cold and ruthless. So becoming of the Element of Laughter, I know. I guess after so many years of craziness, they're probably right," Pinkie explained.

"I doubt the Party Crashers would have cared if you hugged me. Belle and A.B. had no problem hugging me, after all." Rainbow stepped to the cabinets beside the fridge as she chatted, reaching in and grabbing a plate. She took a few fruits and vegetables from the icebox and closed it behind her.

Pinkie smirked, "Yeah, but Loo did knock you on your flank. I know she's got a reputation of her own, but I never expected her to do that. Not to you, of all ponies at least. I mean, I know she felt betrayed after you had been gone for a short while. I just expected something different out of her."

"What kind reputation does she have?" Rainbow asked as she sat across from Pinkie at the table.

"To be honest, I think some of our own troops are kind of scared of her. Maybe even I am a little. Have you seen all the scars on her?" Pinkie asked.

"Yeah, she's covered in them."

"Mhm. Sometimes I think she's almost deliberately tempting death, but death is too scared to take her."

Rainbow cocked an eyebrow. "Why would she be trying to get herself killed all the time? That doesn't make any sense."

Pinkie shrugged and shook her head. "We're all so tired of this war. I know she's been in a lot of pain for a long, long time. She'll never admit it, of course. I think seeing you brought it all up to the surface. Wouldn't be surprised if that's why she punched you and said all those nasty things to you."

"Why do you say that?"

"Like I said, she felt betrayed. Heck, you heard her. She said it herself that she feels you abandoned her. Not long after you disappeared, things went nuts around here and she was eventually forced into a never ending fight against a psycho when she got older. Whenever something was bothering her before, if she couldn't turn to her friends for support, who'd she turn to?"

Rainbow slowly put down the celery stalk she was about to start nibbling on. Her ears drooped and she looked away sadly. "Me, I guess."

Pinkie nodded and looked away, returning to her memories. "Without you there to fall back on, I could see what was happening to her as time went on, even with Belle and A.B. there. Every other mission we went on, she ended up more and more angry. I saw how she was dealing with enemy soldiers. I didn't try and stop her because I thought sometimes she'd try doing to me what she was doing to them if I tried talking to her. She was letting her anger get the better of her, and frankly, some of it was terrifying. Even to Belle and A.B. I could see it on their faces."

"What does this have to do with Loo trying to get herself killed though?" Rainbow gobbled up the celery and reached for another stalk.

"It would have been a release from all the pain she felt. I know because.. I.. used to feel similarly a long time ago. Back when I was a filly, before you gave me my cutie mark," Pinkie said dejectedly.

The pair sat silently for a moment before Rainbow spoke up again.

"Pinkie, I.. I didn't know. I'm sorry," the blue mare said sympathetically.

"Hey now, you don't have to feel sorry for anything," the pink mare declared. "I remember when I was working those rock fields, it was the most depressingest thing ever. I never understood what the point of moving rocks around was. You couldn't eat them or grow them or sell them or anything. Every night, I went to bed ready to cry; I was so utterly miserable. Sometimes I did, sometimes not. But then, one day, your Sonic Rainboom happened and.. well, we know what happened after that," Pinkie said, patting her rump.

"Sometimes, Rainbow," she continued, "sometimes I'd think about what would have happened if you never came into my life as unexpectedly as you did, and.. I honestly don't think I would have made it too far. That's why I think Loo's on some suicidal mission in life. Even with you here now, I wonder how far gone she is. If you can even turn things around her for at this point, y'know?

"It's weird, in a way. Both myself and Loo had issues, and in one way or another, you had a hoof in both of them. You helped solve mine, and unfortunately, due to unforeseeable circumstances, you accidentally created Loo's. I just wish you were able to help fix hers, too."

"Hey, if there's something I can do that will help, I'll do it. You know I will," Rainbow said with a cocky thump to her chest.

A small, happy grin found Pinkie's lips. "True to your element as always, huh?"

"As always!"

The two shared a quiet chuckle.

"It feels good to laugh again, even if it's just a little. I've missed it," Pinkie said, barely above a whisper. She could feel her eyes watering. "I've missed you, Dashie. You were always able to make me smile."

The pegasus smiled softly at her friend. "I've missed you too, Pinkie."

"Hey, you were only gone a week or so before you saw me again. Are you sure that's enough time to miss somepony as much as I've missed you?" Pinkie joked.

"Believe me, Pinks, it is," Rainbow said, bopping her gently on her snout. They shared another laugh.

"So tell me, what in Equestria is with that cutie mark now? I've been meaning to ask you," the pegasus stated, pointing at her pink flank.

The earth pony frowned and shrugged. "Really hasn't been much of a reason to throw a party in a while."

"Yeah, I guess not. Too bad we can't go do some pranking for old time's sake."

"Oh, if I ever get the chance again, I intend to um.. 'prank' the Princess pretty badly," Pinkie said with mock quotation marks. "Let's face it, she didn't make a Pinkie Promise, but she still promised to look out for Equestria. It was her duty, right? I'd say she kind of broke that promise."

"You've pranked the Princess? I'm.. not sure what you mean."

"Let's just say regardless of what happens during or after this war, she'll always have something to remember me by," she said with a sly grin as she rubbed up and down the side of her neck.

"You got to her, huh?" Rainbow bit into a carrot.

"Yep. Was this close," she separated her hooves by only a couple inches, "to putting an end to all this. It was in the same battle she got the Doctor. He didn't go to battle very often, but we had just finished leveling Detrot after we found out it was their main manufacturing city. He wanted to be there if we put the war to bed that day.

"After we got back, Commander Derpy – well, she wasn't commander just yet, but you know what I mean – she told us we were going to be attacking Canterlot head on. We had some of our other reliable forces messing around in some of her other stronger cities to keep them busy, but we had enough numbers to go after her directly.

"Our armies came together in Ponyville," Pinkie continued. "She expected us and was prepared, but we still kicked her troops' flanks pretty good. During the fighting, she spotted the Doctor by Town Hall and went after him when he was vulnerable. She knocked him around pretty bad. Right before she went in for the kill, he tossed something to Derpy – I don't know what it was, I couldn't see it – and then he.. did.. something. It looked like he was reaching for something he had on him, and that's when Celestia fired her magic at him. All that was left of him was a some burn marks on the ground."

"What happened next?" Rainbow asked, finishing her carrot and grabbing a tomato.

"I was nearby, dealing with some idiots, when I saw what happened. I grabbed a rocket launcher and aimed. Some jerk knocked me off balance and the shot went sailing just past her head. But it hit the building and the blast burned her pretty badly. She winked back to General Tiara and Colonel Trixie and they called for everypony to retreat. We couldn't afford to go after them since we just lost the Doctor. We had to regroup and replan."

"Do you think Derpy's done a good job since the Doctor died?"

"Oh, absolutely! I know she still misses him though. He was really cool! Had a lot of silly quirks!" Pinkie said with a bounce. "I didn't really see him too much after I threw him his Welcome Party, so I never got to know him too well until after the fighting broke out. I wish I had, now that I know what he was like. I think it would have been a lot of fun hanging out with him!"

Rainbow grinned as she watched her silly friend showing her old self again briefly. It was a shame to her that all the laughter Pinkie used give to Equestria was of little use in such dark times.

-----

The pair of fighter jets touched down at the Canterlot landing strip after finding Baltimare's air field in ruins a few hours prior. After being guided to their final resting area, the pilots hopped out of their planes and glided down to the ground. They gave their helmets to one of the workers at the base and immediately took to the air again. They needed to get to the Princess quickly.

Most of the outside of Canterlot castle had looked unchanged. The walls were still in one piece and their beautiful white color had been maintained over the years. The colorful stained glass windows were mostly intact. Only one particular window had been destroyed from the inside a few decades ago thanks to a particular enraged alicorn. The image that used to be on it was the despicable lord of chaos being defeated by the Elements of Harmony.

The pegasi made their way inside the castle past the many armed guards. The marble floors and lush red carpets were still immaculate. If only to make an almost arrogant, hypocritical statement about the state of affairs in Equestria, Celestia had made it a point to keep the castle looking as regal as it ever was, even though there had yet to be a major battle within the city limits.

They flew through one room after another until they arrived at the duel leveled staircase they needed to find. Most of them hadn't seen any use in years. A lavish dining hall, a ball room, a music hall. Yet they all looked ready to be used by a thousand guests at any minute. No cobwebs filled any corners, there wasn't a single smudge on any of the windows nor on any of the tiles of the floor, and a fresh fragrance permeated the air, almost mocking the global situation.

On the second floor, the pilots found the main military installation. Passing by the surveillance room, they came across the primary control room. Further ahead down the hall was likely where the Princess would be found, locked away in the war room, strategizing as she usually was. In the last several years, it was rare when anypony saw her, save for General Tiara. Most of the weight of the war had fallen onto her shoulders.

Once inside the control room, the pegasi marched up to the General, stopping only to salute the two other higher ranking officers nearby. As was typical, the computers and machines were flickering multiple colored lights and buzzing with activity. At the back of the room was a desk with a large flag bearing Celestia's royal seal behind it. An older pink mare with a purple-and-white striped mane and tail sat on a small bench, going over some papers. She still had a relatively youthful appearance, despite her age.

"General Tiara," the mare stated and saluted. The earth pony looked away from the memos and returned the greeting. "We have news from Baltimare."

"Talk to me."

"Our patrol route was to have to land at the Baltimare air strip, but when we arrived, it was completely destroyed. There wasn't a single plane outside that wasn't in pieces, and the air traffic control tower looked like it had collapsed," the pilot explained.

"Ugh! Those damned Party Crashers had to have gotten wind of it. I hate them! We just finished rebuilding that place a few years ago too! We needed that base for once we took back Fillydelphia!" she ranted, throwing her papers on the floor and stomping on them. "I just wish General Armor wasn't so good at defending that city. I wish I knew how his troops were able to move around that city so well."

"G-General?" the stallion pilot stuttered.

Diamond Tiara closed her eyes and scowled, taking a deep breath. "I'm not angry with you. It was good that you brought this to my attention. The Princess needs to be told right away, but she's not going to happy about this."

The pegasi shrunk away nervously. Celestia's wrath was well documented in the minds of her troops.

"Anything else you want to report, soldiers?"

"N-No ma'am, that's all."

"Dismissed, then."

They all saluted to one another and the pilots left. General Tiara picked up her paperwork and stacked it neatly in the center for later. She stood and headed toward the hallway, intent on seeing the Princess. As she proceeded, she received several salutes along the way, returning them where she could.

Upon arriving at the door to the war room, the pair of unicorn guards saluted and magically pulled open the door. Inside stood a few tables with papers scattered all over them as well as the floor, a large billboard with a map of Equestria upon it, covered in several push pins of various colors, another board with an illustration of the rebel army's chain of command with a few names and pictures X'ed out, and a toppled flag laid on the ground. Staring at the papers on one of the tables was the disheveled Princess. She heard the doors open, but had yet to respond.

Tiara's hooves clopped loudly in the silent room. Behind her, the doors closed themselves. If Celestia were anything but an alicorn, she would have given somepony the impression that she hadn't slept in a week. Her flowing mane was as torn at tattered as it had been when she executed her sister. Her eyes were bloodshot and her dimmed white coat ragged. The general glanced over the left side of her long neck in front of her. A large, terrible burn covered most of the skin, all the way down to her left shoulder and up to just below her jawline. A gift from Pinkie Pie.

"Princess," Diamond Tiara finally said.

Celestia looked away from her documents and greeted her top officer. "General Tiara. What brings you here?"

"Unfortunately, some bad news."

The Princess smirked softly. "Isn't that usually the case when you stop by here?"

"Not always, your highness. But this is one of those times. The Baltimare air strip has.. been destroyed. We suspect the Party Crashers, but we have no official confirmation."

Celestia gritted her teeth and slammed a hoof on the tile floor. "Dammit! Not again! That air field was pertinent to the plan I put together! Ugh, how I wish I knew where their main base of operations was! I'd wipe them all out singlehoofedly if I had to! Have we made any progress in Fillydelphia yet?"

"I haven't heard anything, so I'm afraid not, Princess."

She let out an exasperated sigh. Every time she heard about the big city that plagued her with failure, Celestia wished that Shining Armor was still a part of her forces like he was before the Elements were deemed traitors to the throne.

"I know I've tried asking you before, your highness– "

"I know what you're going to say, General," Celestia cut her off, "but, I know that Colonel Trixie's air squadron failed against Spike. You've told me this already and I'll say it again: If she had sent more than just four planes at him, she would have had a better chance of getting rid of him and Rarity."

"Princess.. "

"I'll hear no more of this!"

"Oh, for.. he was carrying somepony different!"

A curious eyebrow rose. "Why have you not told me this yet?"

"I have been trying to, your highness, but you kept dismissing me before I had the chance!"

Celestia turned her head and thought out loud, "Why would Spike be carrying somepony else on his back other than Rarity? If this pony knew where he was, that could mean he was simply taking them back to where they came from. It may be one of their main bases, but it could also be one of their smaller, hidden locations. Do we have any information about this mystery pony?"

"A little. If you happen to recall dealing with them at any time or hearing about one of the other officers fighting them somewhere, it could possibly help us trace their steps. It's not much, but it's a start. Anyway, Colonel Trixie told me that one of the pilots said before they were killed that it was a light blue pegasus mare with a rainbow colored mane. Does that ring any bells?"

The Princess' eyes shrank and her mouth opened slightly in shock. She blinked and turned her head, facing General Tiara directly.

"Say again?"

"A light blue pegasus mare. Rainbow mane?"

She looked away, horrified and mumbling under her breath. "No.. i-it's not possible. It can't be.. "

Diamond Tiara stared uneasily at the shaken up alicorn. She had never seen her so disturbed by anything in all her years under her. "Your highness?"

The royal mare composed herself quickly, cocking her head high. "Thank you, General. I'm sorry for not allowing you to tell me such information before. You've done well. Now, please leave me be. I have to plan.. and think."

"Yes, your highness," Tiara said with a bow. She turned and knocked on the doors. A second later, after stepping back a pace, they swung open slowly and she departed.

After the double doors had closed, Celestia laid down. Her gaze was solidly focused on the floor, her mind repeating what her most trusted soldier just said. She sneered and squinted angrily at the implications, if her words did indeed ring true.

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