• 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 28

Twilight and Rainbow fitted their radios onto their shoulders and several ammunition magazines into place on the straps around their black vests. With a thought, Twilight lifted several hoofguns into view and inspected them thoroughly before setting each one by one into the holsters on her legs and waist. Rainbow wrapped her favorite AR-15 across her back and adjusted her saddlebag for comfort. Twilight put away a bit of food and water into her own and sealed it up. With a last look around and a quick intake of breath, they nodded to each other.

They were all set for the trip back to their old hometown. The journey to Ponyville would take at least a few hours. If Rainbow had her organic wings, perhaps she could cut it down to twenty or thirty minutes. She was the fastest flier in Equestria before the everything went crazy, after all. Unfortunately, she hadn't gotten a chance to fly with her mechanical wings yet, aside from gliding around in the military base here and there. She had no idea how fast she could move on her own, let alone carrying a passenger.

Rainbow laid on the ground and Twilight hoisted herself carefully onto her friend's back. Even after a few weeks, she still felt a little embarrassed about using Rainbow as a ride, but the pegasus didn't mind. She understood all too well what it was like to have a piece of your life torn away and have to fight to reclaim it.

They stepped around the debris and bodies on their way to the exposed entrance. They approached cautiously and drew their weapons. Several small ones hovered around the pegasus engulfed in faint purple magic. No sense in not being ready for anything that may still be outside. Rainbow came to a quiet stop just inside the gaping doorway. Inhaling deeply, she leaped outside, their weapons and eyes swinging in all directions. They saw nothing. Exhaling in relief, they put their weapons away and Rainbow spread her wings.

With a powerful flap from her artificial limbs, she slowly lifted herself off the ground. She hadn't picked up anything other than herself up until now, but wasn't having as much difficulty taking off with Twilight on her back as she thought she would. The young mare looked back at her older friend and they smiled at her accomplishment. Despite the wires and metal, the motions felt as natural and fluid as they used to. With a subtle turn of her wings, a folding down of her ears, and a determined look in her eyes, Rainbow took off toward the Everfree Forest as Twilight wrapped her forelegs firmly around her friend's neck.

-----

"Colonel Trixie," an off-white mare in a blue jumpsuit said, "we're all finished filling up the planes and they're ready to go."

It took nearly an hour for her crew to do their assigned task, even working as hard as they could. It was a lot longer than the unicorn would have liked, but things still had to be done right. Celestia would just have to be patient.

"Good. Dismissed."

The tech saluted and trotted off. Trixie rose from her seat in the control room and approached the communications console once again. The microphone rose to her lips and clicked to life.

"Pilots, report to the runway. We're ready to go."

She returned the mic and made her way outside. A few minutes later, the others showed up and formed rank in front of her. Once she saw that everypony was present and accounted for, she repeated her earlier instructions. Trixie was a bit curious as to why the Princess wanted them to fire at anypony that seemed to be heading in the direction of the royal city, even if it was an ally. However, she didn't wish to question her judgment under any threat of punishment. The pilots galloped to their jets after Trixie was finished and made their way into their respective cockpits, including the former showpony herself.

The multiple jets slowly formed a line along the winding air strip. Trixie wasn't used to sending so many planes out at a single time, so it was a bit of a nightmare trying to organize such a task. Even the radio tower was working overtime trying to keep things from spiraling out of hoof. Nearly a half hour had passed before the first plane even got off the ground. A few minutes later, the next in line took off, and the next a few minutes after that. After nearly an hour, the final jet was away.

-----

Derpy and her forces were barely away from the abandoned base. She had heard the sounds of roaring jet engines high overhead, as well as having seen them passing by, upon sticking her head out the destroyed door. Thanks to the appearance of Trixie's air force, she had to delay the second group until things had calmed.

She worried for the first group, who had left on schedule. Twilight had taught all the unicorns years ago various defensive and camouflage spells as best she could, but there were at least a couple dozen jets that she watched fly overhead. She had no idea how many had gone before them. If her troops weren't keeping their eyes peeled in the first place, they could have easily been slaughtered.

The commander couldn't worry about that now, however. They had a goal, and she figured out almost right away that it had suddenly gotten even more difficult. The jets were all flying toward Canterlot. Celestia was aware of their upcoming attack and was fortifying her defenses. She flared her nostrils at the thought of the cunning, brutal dictator and pressed on.

Derpy had hoped that they get some rest once they got to the Everfree Forest. The creatures that used to terrorize ponydom had abandoned their old gnarled home quite some time ago, and the thick brush and high rising trees made ideal cover. But now, they may have to take a shorter break than she would have liked. Even without firing a single shot, the Princess always seemed to know how to make things more difficult for her, whether she realized it or not.

-----

Twilight held on firmly as she felt the wind flowing through her aging mane. She squinted slightly, the resistance tickling her eyes as they flew. Rainbow was doing her best to hurry along and they both hoped her current speed would be enough to get them to Ponyville without any issue.

The unicorn had been keeping a watchful eye out for any signs of trouble. Scanning the horizon on all sides, she found numerous signs rapidly approaching from behind.

"We've got incoming, Rainbow!"

With that, Twilight surrounded them with a small protective bubble. Rainbow's heart skipped a beat as she remembered what happened months ago when she was still covered in Twilight's barrier. Steeling herself, the pegasus craned her head at her passenger.

"How many?"

Twilight squinted. She scanned the distance carefully but failed to see anything other than a single small but noticeable dot rapidly increasing in size.

"I only see one. That's a bit strange. They usually travel in pairs. Maybe their partner is lagging behind. How far are we to the edge of the Forest? Can you see it from here?"

"Just barely. Not sure how long it'll be at my current speed. Maybe a half hour?"

"Hm. I don't suppose you can kick it up a notch?"

Rainbow cocked her head uncertainly. "I'll try. Let's see what these babies can do!"

The pegasus leaned in and flapped as hard as she could. Flying at high speeds wasn't going to be as easy as it used to be, given her novice level experience with her new wings. Though she did pick up some speed, the jet was still quickly closing in on them.

After only a moment, the lone plane was finally close enough to spot them clearly. The pilot spoke into his built-in mic.

"Colonel, we've got company up here, but it isn't much. A light blue pegasus carrying what appears to be.. Twilight Sparkle."

Trixie's eyes shot open and her pupils shrunk. It was a name she was sickeningly familiar with, but one she hadn't heard anything about in almost four and a half years.

"You're sure? You're absolutely sure?" she asked angrily.

A brief moment of silence came from her helmet's speaker before it came to life again. "Yes, ma'am, it's definitely Twilight Sparkle. Orders?"

"Take her down! Take her down now!"

In an instant, the pilot accelerated and flew ahead of the purple bubble. After a good distance, he banked and turned around, charging the pair of ponies head on. The mounted miniguns opened fire and sparks flew off Twilight's barrier, causing Rainbow to jump suddenly. Nothing was getting through, but her heart still skipped a beat. The fighter jet darted past their heads and the girls slammed their hooves over their ears.

After they shook off the sudden bout of deafness, Twilight leaned over and yelled in Rainbow's still-ringing ear. "Keep going on ahead! I'll take care of them."

The unicorn looked behind them and watched the plane bank back around for another pass. As it rapidly closed in on them again, Twilight watched as one of its missiles was launched and raced after them.

"Go right! Go right!" she screamed.

Rainbow quickly obliged without thinking and narrowly avoided taking the impact. The protective shield cut through the smoke trail left in its wake as she continued making preemptive evasive maneuvers. Twilight watched the missile fly off harmlessly and returned her gaze to their enemy. Her horn lit up as the jet closed in. She fired a single, razor-like blast of purple magic into the air in the pilot's path while swinging her head like a disc. It was too quick for him to avoid, and it sliced through the metal without effort.

The two halves of the destroyed plane caught fire and plummeted toward the ground. Instinctively, the pilot ejected from the cockpit and let his seat drop out from under him. He turned to face Twilight and Rainbow, only to receive a concussive shot of magic for his trouble. There was no time for him to react, and he joined his plane in its journey down.

Not figuring they were out of the woods yet, Twilight looked back toward the horizon. She saw something in the distance again and squinted through the sunlight. The only things ever in the sky anymore were planes, and another one was coming.

"There's his partner behind us. Be ready, Rainbow!"

Only a minute passed before they were being shot at again. Twilight was more than prepared for the second assault and sparked her horn to life. Another purple beam tore through the right wing as the second pilot flew by.

"Mayday! Mayday!" he yelled into his mic.

"What's going on up there?" Trixie demanded. "Are they dead yet?"

"Gotta punch out!"

Panicking, the pegasus flew out of the cockpit. His helmet speaker crackled at him.

"Somepony talk to me up there! Do you see the other plane? We lost contact with them a minute ago!"

"Negative! Don't see an–AGH!"

Trixie's headset suddenly went silent. "Hello? Hello?! Dammit! Everypony listen up! Those of you up front circle back and wait for reinforcements to arrive. Do not engage until I show up. I'm near the middle of the pack, so hopefully I won't be long."

Her speakers spoke up with various confirmations of her orders. As they were instructed, the numerous planes ahead of her pulled back and circled around. Nearly fifteen minutes passed before Trixie and her pilot could see the swarm of fighter jets buzzing around in a small swarm like bees waiting to attack.

"Alright, I see you all. Let's go."

The war machines fell in at various heights, forming a large clump. Though Rainbow and Twilight had gotten some distance, it wouldn't take long for the jets to reach them.

----

"There it is! Shouldn't be long now," Rainbow said, nodding in the Everfree's direction.

"Good. The forest is just as big as the expanse we just crossed, so another couple hours or so and we should be at the Boutique. Been a long time since I've been in Ponyville," Twilight said quietly. She frowned and hung her ears low and she remembered peaceful times from so many years ago. Back before the war started. Back when Rainbow Dash was still there to begin with.

Her left ear turned backward suddenly. Another quiet roar of an engine hummed in the distance behind them. Then another, and another. Twilight cocked an eyebrow and spun her head around, searching the sky. She recoiled in fear when she saw what was coming at them.

"Uh, Rainbow, we need to get out of here. Right now," she said, summoning another bubble.

"Why? What's up?"

"We've got company. A lot of it."

Rainbow checked behind her and her pupils became pin pricks. She narrowed her wingspan and dove toward the ground. Twilight held on tight as gravity took control and helped the pegasus gain speed as she plummeted. Rainbow swayed from side to side as she went. Even though she was protected by Twilight's magic, she didn't want to chance anything. They were too close to their immediate goal of reaching the Everfree Forest to rely on luck now.

Trixie's pilot watched from the front seat of her personal jet as the blue daredevil rocketed downward. "Colonel, they're diving. Do you want me to give chase?"

"Yes! Go!" she yelled without hesitation. "The rest of you stay in formation!"

With a push of the joystick, the plane took a sharp turn down. Trixie glanced over her pilot's shoulder and spotted the two mares retreating as fast as they could. She gritted her teeth and glared at her old adversary. She found it almost fitting that Twilight was running away, likely scared out of her wits.

"Shoot her! Shoot her!"

The jet's guns let loose. Chunks of dirt flew into the air below Rainbow as some of the bullets zipped past her and buried themselves in the earth. Others sparked harmlessly off Twilight's shield. The sky blue mare continued rocking back and forth, not allowing the pilot to get a clear shot if she could help it. That didn't stop him from trying, though. Twilight fired a badly aimed magical shot of her own in retaliation, hoping that it would get them off their tails, if only for a moment.

Rainbow leveled out only a few feet off the ground with Trixie still in hot pursuit. A confident grin slowly formed across her face. The trees to the forest were clearly visible now and getting closer by the second.

"Watch yourself, Twi! We're going in!"

Trixie's plane suddenly began to pull up as quickly as it dropped when the chase began, much to the showmare's annoyance. She sneered angrily as she watched Rainbow and Twilight disappear into the dense brush while the jet barely skimmed over the treetops. She stomped her hooves in her cramped quarters, furious that her hated rival escaped. Taking a deep breath, Trixie collected herself, remembering Celestia's request. But, it still didn't make losing Twilight any easier a pill to swallow. Her plane returned to its position among the group and they continued on to the royal city.

-----

Rainbow kept her eyes forward while she glided gently around the trees and shrubs in the dense jungle. Twilight's were skyward, though it was difficult to see much through the thick leaves overhead. It had been a while since they heard any jets flying by, but Rainbow wasn't about to stick her head out and take a look.

They both desperately wanted to take a short break after flying for their lives, but they needed to get to the Carousel Boutique. There was no telling if Spike and Rarity would be there, if they'd want to help, or how long it may take to convince them.

A large clearing came into view ahead of the pair. Not wanting to risk being seen, they flew in close from underneath the surrounding trees to investigate. Their mouths slowly fell open when she realized where they were.

Rainbow landed quietly in the broken and abandoned ruins of the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters. It looked the same as it did when she and her friends found the inert Elements of Harmony so many years ago. Despite time being of the essence, they couldn't help but look around the forgotten relics. A tidal wave of memories flooded their minds. Twilight turned her attention to a particular window. It was one she had never forgotten. Celestia reappeared in a bright burst of light that night after being rescued from Nightmare Moon's imprisonment. She had been so happy to see her teacher safe.

Twilight's ears drooped as she closed her eyes and replayed the events in her mind. Another memory suddenly invaded as she reminisced. It was the night Celestia had called them to Canterlot years after Rainbow had disappeared. She remembered the rage and hatred in her mentor's eyes and words. She remembered the accusations. She remembered the lessons of friendship being smashed against the wall and tossed to the wayside. She remembered a murder.

The unicorn snapped her eyes open and sneered.

"Come on, Rainbow," Twilight whispered, "let's keep going. There's nothing for us here."

The young mare silently nodded and took one last quick look around. Her curiosity satisfied, Rainbow spread open her wings and continued on, following along the path that led from the old castle to the exit of the forest. Now that they knew exactly where they were, and had the luxury of flying, it wouldn't be long before they'd see a familiar, dilapidated barn peeking in from behind the trees.

-----

Twilight's head was starting to hurt. Ever since leaving the Castle of the Royal Pony Sisters, her temples had starting throbbing, lightly at first. It seemed to get worse as she and Rainbow passed by something else that conjured up things she wanted to forget. Sweet Apple Acres wilting away thanks to Celestia's neglect. Sugarcube Corner indulging Celestia's sugary desires. All the things written to the Princess and received from her while she and her number one assistant sat in the library.

The unicorn mentally brushed it off, blaming fatigue. But deep down, she knew what was wrong. As much as she didn't want to think about how badly she felt betrayed, it was the only thing on her mind as Rainbow carried her through the wasteland that Ponyville had become. She deeply hoped that they bumped into Rarity and Spike upon arriving at the Boutique. Whenever things were bad for her, she could always depend on her friends to bring her back to her senses and remind her that everything was going to be OK. Heck, if it weren't for Rainbow, she could very well still be lying in bed, barely able to move.

Down the block, they spotted the still-standing, boarded up remains of the once beautiful home of the gorgeous fashion designer. Rainbow and Twilight shared a nervous but hopeful look and landed quietly in front of the door. Twilight argued that they should avoid simply busting in the door, lest they risk getting shot at, and Rainbow concurred.

Taking a deep breath, the young pegasus knocked gently, though she honestly didn't expect a response. Just as she predicted, there was none. Rainbow tried to peek in between the boards on the windows, but it was too dark inside to see anything. She stepped back and took hold of the doorknob and tried to turn it, but found it locked.

"I don't suppose you can force it open?"

"Should be able to," Twilight said. "We'll just have to be careful. They obviously have no idea we were coming. I really was hoping we wouldn't have to resort to breaking and entering though."

"Yeah," Rainbow agreed. "You're absolutely sure you want to go through with this? I mean, I can imagine you probably feel a little betrayed, what with them leaving after you got hurt."

She shrugged slightly in response. "It does bother me a little, yeah. But.. well, how many times did the six of us butt heads or have something serious we had to get through, and how many times did things turn out alright? I'm sure it'll come up, but we're not here to chastise them. We're here to try and convince them to help us. I'm willing to let bygones be bygones if they're able to help us bring down Celestia."

Rainbow nodded and looked at the door again, a thought occurring. "Maybe you should put up a shield before we go inside, in case they're here and think we're the bad guys or something."

"Yeah, that's not a bad idea."

A purple wall the size of the door formed in front of them with a flicker of Twilight's magic. The doorknob glowed and after a couple jiggles, the internal pieces snapped, granting them entrance. They took a step inside and were almost immediately greeted with a series of gunshots and sparks flying off the barrier before them.

The bursts of fire that flew from the barrels of the guns gave away their position, and Twilight grabbed onto the weapons telepathically, flinging them away, eliciting a pair of audible gasps from the dark. She kept the shield erected, just in case.

What little light crawled in from behind the visitors temporarily blinded the residents. The silhouette of a pony with a pair of extended wings and the sight of a light purple wall of magical energies did little to ease their worry until they heard the voice of loyalty.

"Hey guys, what's up?"

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