• Published 8th Sep 2012
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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 35

The Doctor, his friends, and the remaining now-former royal guards watched the rainbow maned pegasus disappear into the glowing void over their heads. It pulsed vibrantly and then began to shrink. From one side to the other, the ominous crack came together and disappeared from existence.

The Time Lord smiled softly as he watched the phenomenon and whispered, "Thank you, Rainbow Dash."

-----

She found herself in the frigid base in the Coltarado, hidden in a small outcropping among the mountains. The Party Crashers were marching away from her toward the only entrance, and only exit, the small resource facility in front of them had. Rainbow Dash watched as her past self looked up at the tough orange pegasus floating over her head. It took her a moment to figure out that she must be watching herself due to the time field she just flew into. She had no idea if what was going on was supposed to be happening and felt nervous at the idea that something may have gone wrong.

"You think this place will have any little gems or jewels or anything that we could style our weapons with?" she asked Loo with a laugh.

"What, are we fashion designers now? Though Belle may take a few home," she responded, chuckling as well. "She is Rarity's sister, after all."

"Hah, yeah, that is true. Listen, I know this is only my third raid and all, but it almost felt.. well, too easy. Am I imagining things?"

The older mare shrugged, smirking playfully. "You are with Derpy's top team. What do you expect?"

The scene before her began to fade away as the pair continued heading forward. A few feet over her head and to the right, a smaller opening in space throbbed once brightly and slowly sealed itself shut. Rainbow watched quietly, realizing that things were reverting to normal. She felt a hard tug at every part of her body and she was whisked away.

"You're sure you're good to go, Rainbow?" Pinkie asked sternly. "I know last time you killed those two ponies because you were trying to make sure Loo didn't get killed, but you realize you're going to have to be aggressive about it this time, right?"

The time displaced pegasus took a deep breath and nodded as she and the others hid behind the round concrete pillar outside the broken glass door to the lobby of the large office building they were about to charge into. Despite their covertness, they had still been discovered approaching the building. Behind the desks inside, Celestia's troops were waiting for them to make their move.

The crisp winds that blew pinched at Rainbow's skin beneath her coat. It was hard to believe that the city of Mareami had gone from such a lively, sunny city to the dismal, gray pit it was. But, when Equestria's psychotic ruler never feels like doing her celestial duties, things end up going a little crazy.

"Yeah. I'll be fine. In fact.. " she paused, picking an explosive from its strap and pulling the pin out with her teeth. Peaking around the edge of the pillar, she tossed the grenade in, where it bumped against one of the desks and rolled a few inches away before detonating. It was unclear if anypony was killed.

"Hmph! OK. Let's do this!" Pinkie said.

The crack laying on the sidewalk where Rainbow watched the old events unfold from breathed its bright light. Somehow, she knew that it was beginning to shut and she turned around slowly. The last few inches of the breach closed and the crack vanished. She was pulled away again suddenly.

Loo pushed Rainbow away from the door in front of them and into a table a second before it exploded, launching the orange pony into the wall with a loud crunch. Two pegasus stallions walked through the doorway a moment later, guns drawn. They spotted Loo laying in the debris, badly injured and fired a pair of bullets into her shoulder and side.

"No!" Rainbow screamed, catching the would-be assassins' attention. Instead of shooting her however, they stopped and stared vacantly at the unearthly crack floating behind the pegasus on the floor.

Rainbow was sitting on the floor peaking over the table, watching their reactions from the corner of the room, as well as her former self killing them quickly in order to protect herself and her teammate. She heard the commotion of her old self fumbling the table off her legs and watched things as they happened months ago. The former Rainbow loosened her back and ran over to Loo, pulling the chunks of the door off her. She slapped the radio mounted to her shoulder and asked Pinkie and the others for help.

Slowly and silently, she stood up and snaked around the desk, making sure not to be spotted. She snuck in the direction of where her old self had been laying and inspected the crack from the side. Apparently, it sat in midair, a few inches away from the projector in the room, and angled itself toward the corner opposite her, giving her a view from behind. She crawled forward and looked at it from the front. Oddly enough, it looked as if it was emitting its bright light from both sides. After a moment, the hole shut itself and dissipated into nothing. The scene around her changed again.

It was dimmer in the room she found herself in now. It was also much more dusty, thanks to the fact that she found herself back in the command center's old war room, standing behind the table in the center. She ducked quickly out of sight, hoping that her being so open and visible to the others wasn't going to result in anything weird happening. Though she honestly had no idea if the others could even see her to begin with, but she wasn't going to take any chances.

"So Commander, when are we heading out?" Pinkie asked.

"Thirty-six hours. Figure that'll give you some time to rest up a bit, clean your weapons, gather the necessary supplies, all that happy crap," an unfamiliar gray pegasus with a bubbly cutie mark replied. Rainbow raised an eyebrow at the newcomer. Her weird, bouncy eyes grabbed her attention almost immediately.

What was happening in front of her and what was being said was suddenly irrelevant. This blonde mare with several gray streaks was the only thing Rainbow was concerned about. She didn't know why, aside from hearing her being addressed as 'Commander', she felt that there was something important about this pony.

A.B. and Belle hugged Rainbow's counterpart as they left the room, and after an angry stare from Pinkie, Loo rose from the floor and headed out too, deliberately bumping into her old hero. After the former Crusaders had vacated, Pinkie put a hoof on Rainbow's shoulder and said something quietly in her ear. Though she couldn't hear the words, she remembered everything that happened. That was the day Loo slugged her right in the face. Something like that would be enough to make anypony remember that day if they were in her horseshoes.

The old Rainbow and the aging gray mare stood alone in the room after Pinkie joined the others. The Commander pony spoke up again, addressing the young pegasus directly, "Try not to think about it, Dash. War is hell on everypony. Just remember, in a day and a half, you're not going to have much time to worry about anything other than keeping yourself alive. It's several days walk to Baltimare, but a lot can happen between here and there."

"Commander, didn't you want to talk to me about some things before I went under the knife?"

Watching her old self talking to this new pony so casually told her she must have known her at some point. But for the life of her, she couldn't place the face. Perhaps this was the 'Derpy' the Doctor mentioned to her?

"I did, but Applejack told you enough of it. The rest of it is learned out in the field. Just listen to Pinkie when you're out there. Trust me, you're in good hooves. They won't let you down and I suspect you won't let them down either, even if.. some of them don't quite feel the same. What they think of you ultimately isn't important. Winning this war is. Go ahead and talk to the ponies in the weapons depot. They can help you get more familiar with what you're going to need. After you."

Rainbow headed down the hall and the old mare followed a step behind. As they departed, a small crack appeared on the wall of the room and stared the blue mare down. A few moments later, it retreated and removed itself from existence. Rainbow felt a tug again.

"Ugh, how many more times?" she yelled to nopony.

The world stopped spinning and in front of her was the most bizarre thing she had seen since she arrived in Equestria's dismal future. She was in a large room with a hexagonal desk of some sort in the center. On it were numerous buttons, screens, joysticks and lights on all sides surrounding a transparent column with bright neon lights inside it. Behind her was a staircase that led to a door that had backwards letters glowing above it that appeared to spell out 'Police Box' and 'Public Call'. Another staircase was to her left, and on her right was another panel of some sort with dozens more buttons and lights.

From behind the desk or console or whatever it was, she heard two voices approaching. She popped her head around the desk and saw the Doctor and a blonde pegasus with a gray coat. She silently took off and hovered over their heads near the ceiling, watching their movements with interest. When they got closer, she noticed the same bubbly cutie mark as before. Without the gray hair, she'd assume this was the same mare, just younger, she saw not more than a few minutes ago.

"Doctor, don't you think we should be trying to figure out what's on the screen there?" she asked.

They approached the screen Rainbow had been in front of a second ago. Looking at the screen with them from afar, her eyes widened upon seeing the crack and the pair of dates that she recalled from the letter she was given by Lieutenant Spoon.

"Well, Derpy," Rainbow blinked at the sound of the name and stared in surprise at the pegasus, "I've been mulling over it, and I think I have a pretty good idea what it is, and I assure you, it's definitely not something that you should take lightly. That thing is a very, very serious matter."

"Then what is it? What's the story with it?"

"Listen, while we're in the TARDIS, its walls have us protected from any space-time problems. This one is a big problem," the Doctor explained. "It won't effect us in here, but if you ever see these outside, anywhere, don't go anywhere near it, and make sure nopony else does if you can help it."

"That still doesn't tell me what it does," she said, glaring at her companion.

"Quite right. But please, you just have to trust me on this. It would be incredibly dangerous for you to get too close to it." He laid his hooves on her shoulders, trying to relax the nervous pegasus.

"Look, I know that first date is when we think Rainbow Dash vanished. That's also when I first noticed that crack. Does it have something to do with her?"

The Doctor looked away and smirked uncertainly. "Possibly. But, I honestly don't know. I'll have to think about it some more later on."

"I hate it when you don't tell me things."

"I know, Derpy, I know. But you have to trust me. It's for a good reason. Come now," he said, suddenly chipper, "what do you say we go get some muffins or something from Sugarcube Corner? My treat!"

Derpy sighed, her frustration with the Doctor's antics spent. "Oh, alright. But I'm still going to get you to tell me the whole story one of these days."

With a spring in his step, the Doctor trotted out up the stairs and out the door with Derpy gliding gently behind him. Once the door closed, Rainbow floated back down and looked at the screen with the glowing fracture in it. The crack looked to have the same orientation as the others she came across. She closed her eyes and sighed sadly. She reached out and almost instinctively touched the screen, and the final crack burned brightly, sealed shut, and disappeared, taking Rainbow Dash with it.

-----

The stars in the heavens twinkled brightly alongside the ever present full moon. A freezing wind howled through the empty, barren streets of Canterlot. Any visible walls or rooftops of the buildings in the city were covered in a thick sheet of ice, including the castle. Several feet of snow buried the rest of the town's dwellings and businesses. Every tree, every blade of grass, every flower had died only a few short weeks after Nightmare Moon had returned nearly three and a half years ago. Now, they were just as buried as everything else.

Ponyville fared no better. Most of the frozen, derelict treetops at Sweet Apple Acres were the only things left visible on the old farmland. Golden Oaks Library suffered a similar fate. The old clock tower had only one arm still left on it, the other one having frozen and broken off a number of months ago. Most of the thatched roofs of the houses around town had collapsed under the weight of the ice that formed on them, the first to do so happening only a few months after the dark alicorn's triumph over her sister.

Nightmare Moon sat in her old bedroom with the balcony doors open. The dark purple silk drapes had been frozen solid for a long while, once flowing like the former Princess' starry mane. She stared up at the moon, contemplating as she always did. With a soft sigh, she recollected the events that led her to embrace the nightmare.

She had wanted as much recognition for her beautiful night as her sister had received for her glorious day. Her jealousy turned into hatred, and she let herself be consumed by it. According to texts that she read soon after her return, she learned that the legend of Nightmare Moon had been spun into an old mare's tale, told to scare children into learning a lesson of some sort, or perhaps simply to scare them and nothing else. She had become a boogeymare to the populace.

After her banishment had ended and she overthrew Celestia once and for all, she had declared herself the only true Princess Equestria needed and promised them all eternal night. She got her wish. Even if she was revered out of fear, it was enough. The last of that fear died when the last pony left the world a long seventeen months ago.

With no way to stay warm in the sunless world, all of the plant life, including their food supplies, had died out. Even after the ponies started resorting to cannibalism to survive, the icy cold was still able to claim them. Being as underdeveloped to the horrid conditions as they were, newborns rarely even made it past three months of age. Prior to the last pony's death, the last of the foals in Equestria died four months before then. The few survivors there were knew it was only a matter of time for them too.

Even though Nightmare Moon only desired love and admiration in the end, just like she was for a thousand years, she was alone. Though the cold didn't bother her, it was still able to freeze the tear that she shed as it rolled down her cheek.

-----

The Everfree Forest, despite never needing a caretaker, had suffered as much as the rest of the land did. None of the terrifying creatures that once called the forest home survived the drastic change in climate. The rivers that once flowed freely had frozen solid. Near the center of the woods, a broken, forgotten castle laid as dormant as everything else around it.

Its already cracked and discarded pillars and walls had disintegrated further into disrepair thanks to layers upon layers of ice. The pedestal where the fabled Elements of Harmony sat in their stone states for centuries was hidden under several feet of snow.

There was a fleeting moment when Nightmare Moon had broken away from her imprisonment on the moon and was heading to Equestria when she thought that somepony would be able to stop her using the magical artifacts. When she learned that nopony had discovered its secrets in the thousand years since she had been there, she relished in her complete victory. Now, she almost wished that somepony had.

Suddenly, the snowdrift in the abandoned castle shifted. A quiet hum seemed to emanate from under the small white mountain in the lobby. A small round mound began to poke up from the surface of the snow, moving it out of the way, until a stone emerged and floated slowly into the sky. Nearly six inches of ice surrounded the orb, yet it continued to ascend as if it were weightless.

A blinding white light burned from the ball of ice, cracking the thick wall around it and shattering it and the smooth rock inside. The splinters of stone glowed brightly, hovering in the air. A moment later, they began to spin rapidly and change in color from white to red. Finally, they merged together as one, forming the shape of a lightning bolt. A powerful crimson light burst forth from the gem in all directions, illuminating Equestria like a burning star.

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