• 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 24

"Alright fillies, listen up!" General Tiara shouted. "Today's the last day of the rest of the rebel's lives! If what Sergeant Jet Set here found is accurate, they're holed up somewhere in a hidden base in Ghastly Gorge. It's unlikely that the base has much in the way of space inside, so we'll have to be extremely careful. At the same time, the lack of room will also make them easier targets. We don't have any idea how many troops are stationed inside, but we will have the element of surprise on our side. If we can keep them disorganized early on, we can win this battle! Stay aggressive, and if you feel the need to use explosives, make sure you don't do it terribly often. We don't need the place coming down on our own heads."

Close to a hundred of Celestia's best troops listened intently to Tiara's pep talk as they remained at attention in the main lobby of the castle. Sergeant Jet Set stood by her side, looking much healthier and aware than he did the day before. He wasn't quite at 100%, but it would have to be enough to get him by. If he had another half a day's sleep, he would have been fine, but General Tiara required him to go with them to assault the base that Pinkie and her crew entered, if only to show them its location.

While Diamond Tiara had wanted to tell Celestia where they were going and offer her to join them, she was still burning up from the evening before. The Princess enjoyed taking her time and being methodical in her approach to fighting, but Tiara had always found it effective and satisfying to quickly get on the offensive and let brutality dictate what happened on the battlefield.

Her methods worked when she was assigned to take Las Pegasus from the resistance early on in the fighting, and she was able to utterly annihilate Appleloosa years later when she discovered that they hid the Elements of Harmony when they were first accused of treason, simply by being aggressive. Though Celestia had plenty of success with her methods, General Tiara knew time wasn't on their side right now, and it didn't help matters that she was never known for her patience. All she knew was that Pinkie Pie and the rest of the Party Crashers were in a hole in the side of a canyon, and they needed to be taken out immediately. With every minute that went by, the possibility that they may leave and head somewhere else increased.

General Tiara marched up and down the rows of stallions and mares, inspecting the soldiers and looking over what equipment they had with them. Most of it was pretty standard: High-powered assault rifles, small explosives, night vision goggles in case there was a lack of light in the base, but she had made it a point to bring a few rockets to help break down the front door, thanks to Jet Set's description of what he saw Pinkie do to get inside.

"Take a few minutes to get some food in your stomachs and make any final preparations. We head out at 0800, but it's still a bit of a trip to get out there. I know it'll likely be well past noon before we get close. It's," Diamond Tiara looked at her watch, "7:38 right now. Report back here in fifteen minutes, fillies."

As the crowd dispersed, one of the guards keeping watch over the group stepped up to the general with a concerned look. "Begging your pardon, ma'am, but do you want me to report your attack to the princess?"

She squinted angrily at the mention of the name. "No, buck her. We have the opportunity of a lifetime on our hooves and she doesn't want to be bothered. So, whatever."

With a nod, the guard returned to his post. Diamond Tiara turned and approached Jet Set, who was doing his best not to fall asleep where he stood.

"You ready to do this?" she asked.

He shook his head, trying to relieve himself of some of the fatigue he felt. "Yes ma'am. You don't know how much I've wanted to see them suffer for what they took away from me."

"That's what I like to hear, Sergeant. Go lay down for a few minutes. I want you as sharp as possible, and I do realize you're probably still fairly tired. I'll see if there's something I can do about that on the way up there. Maybe I can have one of the stallions carry you and you can get some extra sleep or something," Tiara said.

"I don't know how well that'll sit with them, if you were to ask that."

"I really don't care what they think of that. I'm in charge, and if I give the order, they have to obey," the earth pony said with a smirk. "Now, go lay down inside. I'll see you back here shortly."

-----

General Tiara and Sergeant Jet Set led the squadron through the humid Everfree Forest and near the barren clearing beyond it. Despite the fact that most of the wildlife had left the dark jungle years ago, it still gave most ponies the willies. Every crack of a branch or faint howl of the wind made their skin crawl.

Tiara rolled her eyes at their cowardice, as she believed, rightly so, that their weapons would have more than made up for their lack of size or physical strength against what used to roam the forest. Even though they had everything they needed for the upcoming assault, she did feel disappointed that there wasn't anything they could use at the strange, abandoned hut they happened to come across during the trip.

The pink earth pony wiped her brow upon entering the bright, empty wasteland that greeted the troops. Somehow, after all this time and despite the lack of weather related activity, the Everfree Forest still maintained its humid disposition. The sudden blast of sunlight in her face caused her to shield her eyes momentarily. Even though it took several hours to trek through the dense forest, she felt annoyed by the radically changing temperatures and levels of brightness she and her troops had to go through.

When they marched through the deserted town of Ponyville earlier in the day, the high treetops of the Everfree hid the sun's rays well, graying the once lively, colorful little village. The air felt cool, almost inviting because of this. Then, the forest brought moisture so thick, one could almost cut the air with a knife. Now, several hours later, she and the others found themselves faced with the other extreme. Diamond Tiara shuddered to think what her mane must have been going through.

The General looked at her watch as she and the troops began the final stage of their march. 5:50. She squinted angrily. She didn't realize how long it took for them to get out of Canterlot and into Ponyville. It had killed most of the day, but she ultimately couldn't worry about it. They had a mission, and she needed to stay focused.

"I think we're almost there, General," Sergeant Jet Set said. "I remember seeing that over there soon after I left Ghastly Gorge." He pointed to their right, where the remains of four jets were scattered across the land.

"Good. I'm starting to remember why I enjoy staying in Canterlot more and more. All the walking from place to place is so annoying," Tiara complained.

After another couple hours, they began to see the edge of the cliffside. Once they finally arrived, Tiara ordered the troops to stay some paces back so as not to give them away. Jet Set examined what he saw below and the surrounding area. He waved the group further to the south once he determined that they weren't in the right spot. He recalled seeing a particular pattern of large holes in the wall on the far side of the canyon. This wasn't the place.

Jet Set picked up the pace as they followed the gorge. Finally, after nearly twenty minutes of sneaking, alarms went off in the sergeant's head. They were there.

"That's it. I recognize that little pile of rocks there," he said to Diamond Tiara, nodding at their location below. They stayed low on their bellies by the edge as the squad waited for their final orders several yards away. "Pinkie did something and a door opened right there. Must be a hidden switch or something in those rocks."

"No doubt they have eyes on the door too, and I can see a path leading up the side of the cliff there," the general said, pointing a hoof. Tiara glanced at the former homes of the quarry eels and cocked an eyebrow. "Hm. I wonder. They obviously need ventilation if they're living in a literal hole in a wall, and those things are right by the door."

General Tiara slinked backwards and stood up. She approached the leader of the group of pegasi, who stood firmly at attention when he saw her moving his way.

"Once we get started, I want you and your ponies to fly over to the openings on the wall across the way and investigate. If you're able to get in that way, we can box them in. Start from the leftmost holes. If you can get in, go ahead. If you can't, pull out and move to the next one."

"Yes, General."

"What time is it?" she asked herself. Her watch said 9:12. It was starting to get late in the evening.

She looked over her squad and saw their fatigue on their faces. They had been marching almost nonstop for over twelve hours, stopping only once to eat in the Everfree Forest. Tiara rubbed her chin and craned her head backwards, looking in the general direction of the hidden door. She summoned Jet Set, who had been studying the ravine below them, over to her side. His eyes still had large bags below them, despite his best efforts to remain coherent. Tiara collected her thoughts and walked in front of the battalion, stopping when she reached the center of the pack.

"OK, colts and fillies, listen up," she spoke up with authority. "I see a lot of you look a bit tired. It's past 9 o'clock and we've been on our hooves all day, so let's take a bit of a break and gather our strength. Don't go near the edge of the canyon. We don't know how far up they can see us. Get something to eat and get some shut-eye. We'll attack at two in the morning. I figure most of them will be asleep. The perfect opportunity to attack.

"You in the front row," she addressed the group of unicorns to her right, "I want you all to be on guard duty. If anything happens down there, or anypony comes out, get us up immediately. We'll just have to begin our assault a little early if that's the case. Dismissed."

-----

"General," a gold-colored unicorn said, nudging her gently, "It's time."

With a deep breath and a stretch, Diamond Tiara stirred and opened her eyes. As was typical, the sun still shone in the west, peeking above the horizon. She got to her hooves and tapped Jet Set, who had slept beside her, before moving to the middle of the large area her soldiers laid in. Jet Set stretched and scratched his side. He was still incredibly tired, especially after that long day of hiking. Regardless, the extra few hours of sleep helped immensely.

"OK, everypony up! Let's form up and get ready!"

Groans and murmurs from the troops filled the air. They rubbed their eyes and cracked their necks as they woke from their slumber. Slowly, they formed rank, much to the annoyance of General Tiara. She was anxious to get this over and done with.

"Alright, here's how this is going to happen. We're going to move down the canyon a little further and cross over. Can any of you unicorns teleport at all?"

No responses came from the crowd. Though Celestia did try teaching her unicorn soldiers the means, none of them had the raw abilities that her former protege did.

Tiara sighed in frustration. "Great. Alright then, pegasi, you're going to fly the earth ponies and unicorns across the canyon. Once we're all over there, I want you all to fly back over here to this side. We'll move back up to this location together. Now, I need two volunteers out of you pegasus ponies."

Two hooves were raised in the middle of the group.

"OK, come on up." They took to the air and landed beside her. "You'll be firing the rocket, and you'll be reloading it if necessary. Here," she reached into her saddlebag, "take these binoculars and keep an eye on the door. Wave over to me if you manage to blow it open. Jet Set, take these two and show them where you saw the door.

"The rest of you, once the signal is given, unicorns, I want you to run in first with your barriers up. The rest of us will follow you. Pegasi, you'll be charging overhead to the holes in the canyon. Your leader there has your orders, so just do what he says. Are there any questions?"

The militia was silent.

"Good. Let's get a move on. Jet Set, follow behind us once you're finished over there."

"Yes, ma'am," he responded.

-----

The two groups cantered north along the opposite edges of the ravine until they arrived back at their intended target. Diamond Tiara and Jet Set took the lead down the winding dirt path and stopped several yards away from the small rock pile the sergeant had pointed out. On the opposite side, the pegasi stood ready. General Tiara raised a hoof, silently ordering the earth ponies and unicorns to prepare for the assault. She licked her lips in anticipation.

Tiara looked up toward the pair of pegasi assigned to infiltration duty. She waved at them, indicating to fire when ready. The stallion holding the rocket launcher took knelt down and took aim while the other lifted the binoculars to his head. After slowing his breath, the projectile flew toward the hidden door and blasted shrapnel and metal shards into the air. The surveillance stallion stood up and waved, indicating he saw a direct hit and a way in through his binoculars.

"Attack!" Diamond Tiara shouted.

-----

Inside the base, one of the screens in the security room shook suddenly and went to static. Two other monitor showed a thick, fiery cloud of smoke burst into the tunnel at different angles, sending chunks of rock and metal through the air.

The ponies overseeing the displays gasped when they saw the unexpected carnage. A navy blue mare slammed down on a red button beside her, sounding the alarm that they were under attack. Three of the five ponies spun out of their chairs and each pulled a hoofgun from their holsters while the other two stayed behind to keep extra eyes on the entirety of the base.

As the siren blared throughout the halls, the stallions, mares and foals snapped awake, wondering what was going on. The noise they heard indicated that it was no drill. With groggy haste, they jumped to their hooves and searched for their weapons and gathered what ammunition they could find.

Rainbow Dash and Twilight violently snapped to her senses in the rehabilitation area. They gawked at each other with half closed eyes. "Wh-What's going on? What is that?" the pegasus asked, panicking.

"We're under attack!"

"What?! How did Celestia find us?!"

"I don't know! But we're hardly in any condition to fight right now!" Twilight exclaimed, struggling to climb from her bed and onto the ground. She wasn't going to take the Princess' attack sitting, or laying, down.

"Twilight, stop! You can't even walk on your own yet!"

"You're not going to just lay down and die, Rainbow, and neither am I!"

-----

Outside, the pegasi squad darted across the ravine high overhead, and landed in the quarry eel hole furthest on the left, as instructed. It was extraordinarily dark after only a few feet thanks to the sun's positioning. They tossed on their night vision goggles and saw one of the garden's massive fans turning slowly in the distance. The unicorns on the ground charged forward with the earth ponies behind them. With a sharp left turn, they invaded the corridor and raised their magical barriers. Jet Set and General Tiara followed among the earth ponies. One by one, the soldiers pulled out various assault rifles and sidearms.

When Diamond Tiara finally entered the base, many of the other ponies stepped to the side and let her and Jet Set by. Those up front formed a wall made of flesh and metal. She came to a stop in the middle of the group that stood before the corner that led into the heart of the base and pulled out her own hoofgun.

"Kill anything that moves!"

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