• Published 8th Sep 2012
  • 3,973 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 21

Cadance charged out of the recovery room at full speed, nearly crashing into everything and everypony in the way as she raced to the control room. She wasn't sure where she'd find the commander at the moment, though there were only a few likely areas in the base.

She quickly looked over the control room upon arriving. No sign of Derpy. Cadance darted to the communications panel and magically yanked the mic up to her lips.

"Commander! It's Cadance! Come to the recovery room, please! It's Twilight! She's awake!"

Speakers throughout the caves rang out with her voice, catching the attention of everypony in the base at the mention of the unicorn. Even the youngsters knew who Twilight was thanks to old war stories. The usual goings on came to a screeching halt as curious and hopeful murmurs permeated the air.

Cadance tossed away the microphone and raced back to her sister-in-law. Derpy, who had been working in her quarters, had arrived only a moment beforehoof and was watching over Twilight with a glimmer in her lop-sided eyes. Twilight's doctors and nurses hovered about, making last second checks to her vitals and seeing that she come out of her years long sleep without incident. Rainbow Dash clumsily barreled in shortly after, slamming into wall of the entranceway followed a few seconds later by Applejack. The small group crowded around the waking unicorn, feelings of shock and joy coursing through them. Even the normally stoic commander was smiling happily.

Twilight had opened her eyes slightly while Cadance was away. Being blinded by seeing light for the first time in almost four and a half years, she was forced to slam them shut and allow her eyes to adjust under their lids. By the time her friends had arrived, she was seeing a bit more clearly but everything was still a blur. Before her, she saw four particular spots of color: One grey, one pink, one orange, and one light blue near her hind legs. Twilight tried to lift her hoof to rub her eyes but had yet to recuperate any physical strength. Even using her magic was futile at the moment since her concentration and mental acuity was still returning as well.

One doctor ran his stethoscope over Twilight's chest, the small cold disc startling her while another flashed a small light in her eyes. Her heart rate was good and her pupils were functioning correctly. A third doctor, a brown unicorn with silvery streaked hair, made his horn glow and touched his together with the patient's. Her magical energies seemed to be resurfacing, albeit slowly. Once the doctors were confident that Twilight was as well as could be expected, they carefully removed the breathing tubes from her muzzle.

"Welcome back to the land of the living, General," a familiar voice said.

"C..Comman..der?" Twilight mumbled.

"Among others."

Twilight blinked several times. Finally, her vision was clear. She immediately noticed Derpy, Cadance and Applejack and smiled as big as she could in her fatigued state. Rainbow stood at the foot of the bed, as excited to see her awake as the rest. Twilight paused, her eyes slowly bursting open in surprise. After a moment, she relaxed and smiled again.

"Rainbow.. you're.. back. Doctor was.. right. Said you'd come back and.. and you did," Twilight said, her heart rate happily increasing.

"Hey, Twilight," Rainbow said softly. "How you feeling?"

"Tired," she joked.

"You've been asleep for like, four years or something. How can you be tired?" the pegasus said with a chuckle. "The Doctor told you I'd come back, huh?"

Twilight nodded weakly. "Told me about.. you.. light.. s-speed.. thing."

"The Doctor told a few others about your return other than myself. Twilight was the only one who seemed to have any idea what he was talking about," Derpy interjected.

"She always was kind of an egghead," Rainbow said, turning to the unicorn with a wink. Twilight chuckled softly.

"Yeah, he could sometimes explain things a little um.. uniquely, I suppose," Derpy said.

"Still.. fighting?" Twilight asked.

"I'm afraid so. But hopefully not for long."

The lavender mare frowned and sighed, but ultimately wasn't surprised. When she had fallen, they were already at war for over thirty years. What's a few more at that point? Now that she was awake again, Twilight wasn't going to take it laying down, metaphorically speaking. She struggled to sit up, wanting to get out of bed.

"Twilight, easy!" Cadance said.

"Hold on, sugarcube. Ya haven't moved in years. Ya gotta get your body back in gear again, and it ain't gonna be easy," Applejack warned. The others gawked at the earth pony, surprised to hear such accurate medical knowledge come from her mouth. "What? Ah bucked apples for years. Ah'm well aware o' what happens when ya stop workin' hard and usin' your body and what it takes ta get movin' again."

"She's absolutely correct," the unicorn doctor spoke up. "Miss Sparkle, while you've been asleep, we've made it a point to at least massage what we could to keep your muscles from atrophying too badly. But, you are going to need some physical therapy. For how long is completely up to you and how hard you want to work at it. It's possible that you may need to rediscover your magical abilities again, though to be honest, I'm not quite sure how necessary that will be. We've never had anypony in such a state for so long."

"How.. soon?" Twilight asked.

"I'd like to get started first thing in the morning tomorrow. Right now, it's.." he looked at the clock, "just after 8:30. I'll set you up with Dr. Neurocell. He does most of the physical therapy around here. Isn't he working with you, Rainbow Dash?"

"Yeah, he's a nice pony. Been a huge help! Hey, we could be like study buddies, Twilight!" Rainbow said, giggling at her own joke. Her bedridden friend squeaked out a small laugh, too.

"What.. happened, Rainbow?"

The sky blue mare turned and extended her metal wings. It was still a bit of mental work, but she had been able to do it on her own for a short time. With just as much effort, she tucked them back into her body and sat back down.

"Oh no.. I'm.. sorry, Rainbow. What happened?"

"Well, you remember that spell you put on me so I wouldn't feel my wings?" Twilight thought for a moment and nodded. "Yeah, well, I sort of flapped them so hard for so long that I.. kinda broke them. I had to get replacements," the pegasus said, hanging her head in sorrow.

"But hey, I'm actually doing OK!" she perked up and smiled. "I can move them around on my own pretty well. Just can't fly yet. But I'm getting there!"

"That's good," Twilight said.

She had seen plenty of injured pegasi need prosthetic wings put in place of their organic ones over the years. This time was different though. Not only because it was Rainbow's wings, but why it all happened to her in the first place. A wave of guilt washed over the unicorn as her thoughts drifted back to the day she cast the spell that would inadvertently send her daredevil friend hurtling through time, and she hid it poorly. If only she hadn't numbed her wings in the first place...

"Ladies, I hate to interrupt," the unicorn doctor said, "but it's not a bad idea for Miss Sparkle to get a little rest in preparation for tomorrow."

"What do ya mean? She's been unconscious for so long. Why wouldn't she be able to just jump right into the rehab?" Applejack questioned.

"Well, you were correct before. She is going to need some time to recover fully. But right now, her body's going through a lot. It's trying basically to reboot itself all at once. She may not feel it right now, but I assure you, in a little while, she's going to be quite groggy." He turned to Twilight. "Miss Sparkle, until then, if you wish, we can do some basic magical exercises, just to see how much we'll need to work on that later."

"Sure, that's fine."

"Sir, w-would it be too much trouble if I asked to stay?" Cadance spoke up.

"Well, considering you haven't moved much from this spot for over four years, I suppose a few more hours couldn't hurt," the unicorn said. "But, once we rehabilitation begins, she will need some space."

"I understand." The alicorn looked at her sister-in-law and smiled.

"Back to foalsitting, huh?" Twilight joked.

"I couldn't stand the thought of something happening to you and me not being there. What else could I do?"

"Thanks, Cadance."

The former princess took Twilight's hoof in her own and squeezed it tight. The lavender mare struggled but managed to return the affection ever so slightly. Applejack, Rainbow and Derpy exchanged elated glances. The farmer was a step away from shedding tears of joy.

"Come on, girls. We should give her some room. She's got a big day tomorrow," Derpy said, nodding proudly at Twilight.

"I'll see you in the morning, OK? It'll be nice to have somepony else to talk to while I work on my wings instead of a boring old doctor," Rainbow quipped.

The physicians who examined Twilight rolled their eyes at Rainbow's comment as the happy mares departed. The brown unicorn slowly raised the back of her bed so she sat upright and laid some small, light items in her lap such as quills, a clipboard and some papers. Her horn glowed faintly as he instructed her to try picking something up.

-----

Rainbow sat in the rehabilitation area with electrodes across her head as she usually did. She watched the monitor as it gave various readings, showing her neural activity as she slowly flapped, flexed and turned her wings. She didn't understand a thing that went across the monitor. Rainbow was simply told months ago when her rehabilitation began to think about moving her metal wings as if they were real. Sitting around with no obvious results got boring quickly, so her attention would occasionally turn to the funny readings on the computer screen. Still, despite being able to flap them at this point, Rainbow would get overcome with boredom often.

Today was different, however. One of her closest friends was only a few feet away, finally fully conscious and aware after being bedridden and physically dormant for years, being worked on by one of the best doctors they had. Twilight had been laying on an examination table for a couple hours while Dr. Neurocell started with a few simple tests and then began gently flexing one leg at a time for a short while before moving onto the next one.

It was excruciating for the poor mare. Pins and needles stabbed at every inch of her skin as she was moved. She felt a bit envious of Rainbow. All she had to do was think hard enough and eventually her body would respond. Twilight never felt so much discomfort before, and the doctor was taking his time! For a moment, she wondered how loud she'd be screaming if Dr. Neurocell moved any faster.

Aside from grunts and groans by the unicorn, it was a relatively quiet morning. Twilight's doctor had been explaining to her what they were going to be doing, so Rainbow figured it was best to let him speak uninterrupted. Once they were underway, Twilight managed to speak up through all the nagging soreness.

"I can't tell you how nice it is to see you again, Rainbow. How long ago did you return?"

"Thanks, Twilight. Um, it's been almost five months I think. A little under that."

"What've you been up to? Been doing any fighting?"

"Yeah, Commander Derpy set me up with Pinkie's group," Rainbow said with a proud puff of her chest.

"Oh wow! I always heard they were tough as nails out there. You must be fitting right in!" Twilight chuckled. She inhaled through her teeth her body protested her laughter. Even parts of her that Neurocell hadn't laid his hooves on yet managed to ache like crazy. She suddenly really missed the magic Aloe and Lotus could work.

"Yeah, it hasn't been bad. Me and Loo didn't see eye to eye for a little while, but we've worked past some things. For a while, she thought I abandoned her all those years ago," Rainbow explained, slouching her ears.

"I'm sorry to hear that, Rainbow. I don't know why she'd ever think that. She knew you're the Element of Loyalty, right?"

"I had to remind her of it after I saved her life. I think– "

"Wait," Twilight cut her off, "you saved her life? What happened?"

"We were at the air strip in Baltimare, raising Tartarus. Well, they were. I was kind of on the sidelines. It was my first mission. Pinkie had the two of us investigate the offices and find any other ponies or high tech equipment and take it all out. We were ambushed. A couple of their troops tossed some grenades at us while we were in this one room. She threw me to the side and slammed the door closed, but she still took most of the blast. The two ponies who got the drop on us showed up and shot her a few times, but I took them down. My first kills."

"Was she OK?"

"For the most part. The others said it wasn't anything new for her, and I've seen her scars, so, yeah. I think her ego was hurt more than anything at the time," Rainbow said, rolling her eyes.

"She wasn't too thrilled that it was you who saved her after how she thought you left her," Twilight assumed.

"Yeah. I couldn't hold it against her though. I'd be pretty irritated if my hero suddenly just up and vanished for years without saying anything. I try not to think about what she said on our way to Baltimare. No real reason to, since we've moved on."

"What'd she say?"

"Basically, that after a while she got to thinking that everything I did back then was just me being selfish and that I really didn't care about any of them," Rainbow muttered, frowning. "For a while, I.. kinda believed her."

"That's just silly. We know you cared about your friends and your fans and Ponyville. So you may have seemed a little over the top sometimes. It's just part of who you are, and we knew that. Besides, even if you rubbed ponies the wrong way from time to time, at the end of the day, they still thought you were awesome for so many reasons," Twilight gushed.

"We all saw the great tricks and stunts you'd do for us," she continued, a silly grin growing bigger as she went. "You trusted in me enough to give reading a chance when I suggested it, even though you hated it at first. You were more concerned about Rarity than your Sonic Rainboom during that competition, and I guarantee that if you never pulled off your Rainboom but were still able to save her life, that would have been all that mattered to you in the end. Speaking of which, you were the first pony in who knows how long, maybe the first ever, to perform a Sonic Rainboom, and you flew so fast that, even with a tiny bit of help, you hit light speed! How is it wrong to think you're one of the most awesome ponies ever?"

Rainbow looked away with an embarrassed smile, her cheeks beginning to flush. "Heh, come on, Twilight. That isn't going to help keep my ego in check, y'know."

"Rainbow, what I'm trying to say is that you have no reason to ever worry about being considered selfish, no matter what anypony thinks. Did you make mistakes along the way? Sure, we all did. But, you learned from them. Besides, you wouldn't have become the Element of Loyalty if you were self-centered, right? Look, if I of all ponies have to tell you you're worrying too much, that's bad."

The girls shared a hearty chuckle, which resulted in Twilight wincing in pain again.

"Easy, Miss Sparkle. You don't want to put too much stress on yourself," Dr. Neurocell said as he moved onto the next limb and began slowly rubbing and flexing it. "I know Commander Derpy insisted we get you ready for battle as soon as possible, if that's at all possible. But still, we don't want you to accidentally injure yourself in the process."

"How long would this normally take if we weren't on a bit of a schedule?" Twilight asked.

"Well, given that we were doing our best to keep what we could from decaying due to disuse, I'd say you'll be 100% in no more than a few months at the most," Neurocell explained. "Normally, something like this could easy take six of more, depending on how badly the muscles were effected."

"Ugh, and we don't have months. We'll be lucky if we have days before Derpy is ready to attack the Princess!" Twilight snarled.

"I'm sorry, Miss Sparkle, but we are going to be doing everything we can to expedite the process, as per Miss Hooves orders. Also, I'll need to prepare you for my replacement shortly. My lunch break is soon and I want the next physician to be aware of what we've done so far."

"Listen, doc," Rainbow spoke up, "I've been watching what you've been doing for a little while now. If you need to take a break, go ahead. I think I can handle taking over supervising physical exercises."

"Are you a trained professional, Miss Dash?"

"Well, no but– "

"It's OK, sir. I trust her completely," Twilight interjected. "Rainbow was always busy training physically when I was younger."

"Fine," he snorted, getting off his seat and leaving the room. "I'm just a doctor. What do I know?"

Twilight rolled her eyes and Rainbow snickered once Neurocell was out of sight.

"So, Rainbow, what all happened to you when you finally returned to us?" the unicorn began.

"Well, I found my way back to Ponyville and found it in ruins. I had to shake off a couple fighter planes, but of course, I had no idea what they were at the time. My wings suddenly started to hurt like crazy and I think I crashed and blacked out. It's kind of a blur. Your spell must have worn off or something.

"When I woke up, Rarity and Spike were in front of me, fixing me up and stuff. They– "

"You saw Rarity and Spike? In Ponyville?" Twilight cut her off. "Wait, why would they be in Ponyville? They're not here in the base? Come to think of it, I haven't seen them since I woke up."

Rainbow frowned heavily at her friend's question. "Yeah, A.J. told me all about it. After Blueblood shot you, Rarity and Spike ended up trying to lead some squads into battle or something like you used to. It didn't go so well. They felt real guilty about letting so many ponies die and for not being as good a leader as you, so they left. They were probably using it as an excuse to leave the war too. At least, that's what some ponies think.

"Anyway, they said they were living at the Boutique and they had brought me to Applejack's old cellar after they found me, said it was some spy base or whatever for a while. Then, Spike flew me out here. I told Derpy and a few others eventually where I ran into them. Whether or not they already knew they were in Ponyville, I have no idea. They didn't seem to care either way. Can't believe how big the little guy's gotten," the pegasus quipped, trying to keep the mood lighthearted.

Twilight's burst of curious energy had quickly evaporated. Though she was sad to hear that two more of her closest friends had gone away, she was disappointed in their actions more than anything.

"This war hasn't been easy on anypony, that's for sure."

"Yeah," Rainbow agreed. "I haven't been here too long, and I'd like to think I've adjusted to things well enough, but still.. whenever I'm out fighting, it's like, there's something in the back of my mind asking 'how can ponies do this?'. Even Celestia, y'know?"

"Mhm. I still remember that day like it was yesterday," Twilight said somberly.

"With Luna and you guys," Rainbow said inquisitively. The unicorn nodded.

"You know about that, huh?"

"Yeah, A.J. told me that too. I'm sorry, Twilight. I know how important she was to you."

A sorrowful, awkward silence filled the room. They wanted to change the subject, but the mares were having trouble thinking of something to discuss.

"Sooo," Twilight said, finally breaking the ice, "h-how long have you been at this with your wings?"

"Oh, uh.. It was one of the first things that I had to get taken care of when I arrived here, so just under five months."

Twilight blinked, startled at how recently her friend had the surgery. "That's all? Most pegasi take almost twice that to even get off the ground, and you're flapping them fairly well already!"

"Yeah, all I do when I'm not out in the field is eat, sleep, use the bathroom, and my exercises. Not going to stop until I get in the air again," Rainbow stated, puffing out her chest proudly.

"Doesn't that get excessively boring for you sometimes? I know you always had to be moving around, doing something exciting back in the day."

"Well, yeah, but I have a goal. That's what I'm always thinking about. It's the only thing that gets me by on some days."

"And the Commander wants me ready to go as soon as possible," Twilight recalled. With sudden determination in her eyes, she smiled confidently. "Rainbow, you're in luck. We're going to be study buddies, just like you said!"

"Huh?"

"I don't care what it takes. I need to be able to move again, and if I need to spend eighteen hours a day doing my exercises, so be it! And we're going to do this together!"

"You won't get bored sitting here all day doing the same thing over and over again?" Rainbow asked curiously.

"Rainbow, you're talking to a pony who could sit in her library and hardly move while reading at least half a dozen books on slow day. Plus, we'll have each other's company, and I couldn't think of anypony else I'd want to spend time with right now than you," the lavender unicorn said, smiling warmly at her friend.

"Well, alright, Twilight!" Rainbow cheered, holding out a celebratory hoof. She blinked and realized her blunder, nervously chuckling. She lifted one of Twilight's forelimbs for her and hoofbumped gently.

"You know, I just thought of something else, too," Twilight said. "I need to make sure my magic is where it used to be after being unconscious for so long. I could use it to help bring my body back up to full speed even faster while simultaneously making it strong again! What do you say, Rainbow? Care to get started immediately?"

"Hay yeah!"

With a weak spark from her horn, the leg Rainbow was massaging began to glow with Twilight's signature purple aura, doubly working her muscles. Despite it being slightly painful, Twilight gritted her teeth and pushed through.

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