• Published 8th Sep 2012
  • 3,954 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 5

It only took a few minutes for Spike to rip a shallow hole in the dirt between the two buildings Rainbow had smashed through when she fell. He unceremoniously tossed the dead pilots in and covered them up, making sure to spread the soil evenly to hide any trace of activity. After disposing of the bodies, he ducked into the shop the pilots were in and snatched up the guns. He carefully looked out in the calm blue sky and saw nothing approaching the town. Once he was sure the coast was clear, he dashed across the bridge and back into Carousel Boutique.

Rarity had set a medium sized box on the floor just outside the dressing room. She had already laid some supplies in it, such as a pair of syringes, some liquid pain medicine, a hooffull of food packets, and a few camouflage windbreakers. She was currently looking over some guns that hung on the wall and the ammunition that went with them.

She eyed a rocket standing up in the corner and considered bringing it, just in case they were harassed by a patrol passing overhead when they finally were on their way, but decided against it. She and Spike were aware of the air patrol's schedule. It was so painfully predictable that she almost felt embarrassed for them. Besides, if they were to be discovered en route to the once-lustrous apple orchard, shooting another patrol out of the sky was a death sentence for sure. It wouldn't matter if it was just the three of them or a small battalion, she would send a full squad to go after them.

The door creaked open, catching Rarity's attention. She figured it was Spike and continued inspecting their stockpile, levitating some of the more powerful hoofguns and smaller automatic weapons in front of her before determining whether or not to bring them. They were mainly for her, as Spike was a living flamethrower and had no real need for any firearms, though even he couldn't deny that their extreme long range were extraordinarily useful.

From time to time, he'd catch himself shooting them when he was still on the battlefield with the two mares that meant more to him than anything else in the world. Not only that, his speed and agility in the air, even with his mechanical wings, made it rather difficult for their enemies to even hit him before he would light them up. There were some battles where his presence alone was enough to turn the tide of battle in his squad's favor.

"Alright Rarity, they're taken care of. I got all the guns, too. I know how much you like these two in particular," Spike said as he approached her. She took them from his claws and placed the two powerful revolvers she originally brought with her gently into the box, doing her best not to scratch or scuff them.

"Thanks, sweetheart. I'm almost ready myself. Do you happen to remember how much cider is left at the farm?"

"I don't think all that much. It's a good thing the stuff can keep for so long. Maybe four or five barrels if I remember right," Spike recalled.

The cellar at Sweet Apple Acres had been slowly emptied over time, the barrels of Applejack's world famous apple cider moved into the abandoned house, to make room for a hideout. There had only been about ten barrels left in storage when everything went to Tartarus and the Apple family no longer had a reason to make more. There were much bigger problems going on than making sure everypony had a drink in their hoof.

Rarity tapped her chin and squinted in thought, "Well, I can't imagine we'll go through a whole barrel while we're there, but it couldn't hurt to bring some water just in case. We do still need to ration A.J.'s cider. I'll grab a few cups for the trip if you'll fill up a couple jugs for us." She levitated three gallon-sized plastic containers from one of the shelves in her former dressing room.

Spike took the cartons and stepped outside, making his way to the shallow river that ran near their home. It was about the only thing that remained relatively clean after Ponyville had been abandoned and the water was thankfully drinkable. Keeping an eye out again for any incoming trouble, he filled them up as fast as the river allowed and returned to the shop, setting them down just inside the door. Rarity was just finishing wrapping a few plastic cups in a blanket and placing them in the supply box. She brought it over to the door and set it down, going over a mental checklist and making sure she wasn't forgetting anything.

"We need to get going soon. I think we've got everything. Of course, I'll probably remember something half way to the farm. Isn't that always the case?" the unicorn chuckled.

Spike smiled at his lover's joke and glanced over to Rainbow Dash's unconscious body. Rarity followed suit and then looked over the dragon's form. "You're sure it won't be too difficult carrying the both of us?"

The scaly lizard smirked, "Come on, babe, you know the biggest guns in the room," he flexed his arms, "are right here."

She rolled her eyes and giggled at his antics, smacking him playfully. Even though Spike was much older than the last time he had seen Rainbow, and had been through a lot on the front lines, he was still a child at heart. Given how long a dragon could live, in a way, he was literally still just a kid.

Spike walked up to Rainbow and lifted her into his arms, carrying her over to Rarity and the waiting supplies. Once he set her down on the floor, he laid on his stomach and Rarity hoisted herself onto his shoulders, sliding herself onto the center of his back between his metal wings. Even after so long, feeling the cold steel brushing against her coat was unsettling. She had always wished there was still enough justice left in the world so that Spike could have finished the job Pinkie began so long ago by taking the horrific burn left on her neck and covering the rest of her body with it.

The ivory unicorn laid Rainbow on the dragon's shoulders in front of her after a moment of struggle. She glanced at the hideously oversized feathered wings on her friend's back and tried to caress them in spite of the barrier. 'What in the world happened to you, Rainbow, and your wings..? Luna help us,' she thought to herself, doing her best to prevent her angst from raining down her cheeks.

Rarity lifted up the supply box and laid it gently on Rainbow's back. The barrier would have prevented the pegasus from feeling anything, even if she was awake, though it wasn't that heavy to begin with. She pressed a hoof on top of the box firmly so it wouldn't fall to the ground while Spike was flying them to the apple orchard. Meanwhile, Spike grabbed the water-filled jugs, ready to depart. The door glowed a light blue and opened just enough for Spike to stick his head out and scout the sky once again.

"Clear."

He stepped outside and the door shut quietly behind him, its hue disappearing. With a twitch of a muscle, the rotors turned his alloy wings, bringing them parallel to the ground. The triangular panels attached to Spike's body released a set of three-sided, slightly smaller plates, designed to fit snugly inside their predecessors, and from those plates another pair sprung forth. The six similar sheets of metal were extremely thin, the pieces attached directly to his body only half an inch thick. However, they were built to be durable, and almost appeared to wobble slightly as they moved. The final, long wedge of metal extended out as far as it could, only partially hidden inside the previous panel. After only a second, the process was complete and the panels locked themselves into place.

With a few hard flaps, Spike and his passengers were airborne. He was surprisingly fast, despite his new wings weighing noticeably more than his original ones. At the speed he was going, it would only take a few minutes to get to Applejack's old cellar. They stayed as low to the ground as possible, skimming just barely above the tops of the houses. If Rarity's legs had been long enough to dangle below his sides at all, she could have brushed them against the hay that made what was left of some of the roofs.

The unicorn kept watch intently as they traveled. Other than the sickening reminder half-hidden behind the horizon, its orange glow polluting her vision, all she saw was an empty sky above. She breathed a heavy sigh of relief.

-----

Rarity remembered the first time she had been forced to hide at Sweet Apple Acres since she gave up on the war, and in a way, herself as well. Spike had been the only thing keeping her sane these past four years. All the love and devotion he had given to her kept her strong and, for her age, beautiful. She still went out of her way to pretty herself up for him. It made them both feel like there was something left to hold onto.

Unfortunately, the trees that filled the orchard hadn't been able to say the same in quite a long time, and no amount of attention was going to restore them. They sat naked and withered in the fields, a sad, grim reminder of better times.

Compared to the rest of Ponyville, Applejack's home had looked in reasonable condition. The windows were still boarded up, the paint chipped and peeling, layers of dust covering every surface, but there were only minimal holes in the wall and the roof was intact. The furniture inside had sat undisturbed ever since the property was vacated until a small group of soldiers was instructed to use A.J.'s old cellar as a recon point at the former farm pony's own suggestion. The farm had been forgotten about, they didn't need much space, and being underground made it easy to avoid most forms of detection.

Spike landed beside the swinging cellar doors surprisingly gently, despite his size. The sections of his steel wings unlocked and slid into each other with a whir, the base folding toward the ground and coming to a rest comfortably against the dragon's side. Rarity set their box of supplies on the ground and climbed off his back. Digging her hooves in, she strained as lifted Rainbow off of Spike and laid her down gently. The door glowed and swung open.

"Here, let me take those," Rarity offered, magically taking the water jugs from Spike's claw. "I can't quite lift as much as I used to and Rainbow's pretty heavy for me. Could you carry her in for me, please?" The box floated up and followed alongside the water as the unicorn carried the supplies downstairs. Spike carefully hoisted Rainbow up and brought her in. Rarity left the doors open for just a hint of light as they set things up.

The room itself opened to the right upon entering. The cellar didn't have any cider left inside; all the barrels were moved into the house to make room for the equipment that had been set up long ago. A small conference table with a map was in the center of the room. To the right of said table was a radar station, communications area, and a small generator that had been modified to be operable through magical means. Directly to the right upon entering the cellar were three trunks and a six-foot tall cabinet.

The cabinet, which was furthest left, contained ammunition specifically arranged so the various types wouldn't get mixed in with the wrong weapons. Old but still useful medicine, camouflaged clothes in shades of greens and browns, and some dried food packs, various manuals and small, lightweight forms of entertainment such as cards and books could be found in the three trunks, from left to right respectively. Hanging on the wall above the trunks were numerous types of firearms, hoofheld and automatic. A stove, refrigerator and small dining table had been moved from the house to the cellar and placed against the wall opposite the entrance. In the corner between the table and radar were some piles of hay to sleep on, brought in from the barn on property.

Rarity set the box by the trunks and placed the water in the fridge while Spike set Rainbow down on the hay mattresses. The unicorn trotted over to the generator and focused her energies. It sprang to life and all the electronics turned on with lights flickering, screens glowing, and gentle hums emanating from the machines. She flicked the light switch on and closed the cellar doors, locking them shut.

-----

Spike and Rarity found that all the instruments were still in working order after a quick but thorough check. It also helped that about ten minutes after arriving, two small green dots blipped on the radar screen. They came from the northeast, flew overhead and turned around a moment later, according to what they observed. They prepared their weapons, just in case there were foot soldiers on the way. Fortunately, they never came, the doors remained unmolested and quiet.

Rainbow's shield had finally vanished entirely and Rarity was able to give her a sedative. It had been long since its expiration date, but on the rare times that Rarity was ill and needed rest, it did the job well enough. She hoped that it would work on Rainbow and keep her asleep for a day or two so whatever was making her scream like crazy would have gone away.

Aside from keeping an eye on radar and listening in for any communication, there wasn't much to do. The place hadn't been stepped inside in at least six months and was incredibly dusty. Even with the war going on, Rarity had still despised her surroundings being unkempt. Living at the Boutique for the last four years in its condition was nearly unbearable for the unicorn, but she knew she couldn't tidy it up without giving themselves away. Unfortunately, there were no cleaning solutions or paper towels in the bunker to help her clean the place up. With the air wreaking havoc on her sinuses, it was going to be a long few days.

-----

Other than routine patrols waking the radar and the rare chatter from the radio, the next two days went by uneventfully. The communique they overheard was unfortunately not very useful, otherwise she may have considered getting in touch with the command center. It had been a couple years since she got in touch with them for any reason, and even back then, she was reluctant to do it. Just thinking about bringing them back into her life, even for a necessary moment, caused painful memories to leak to the surface of her mind. Having to actually speak to somepony would have opened the whole floodgate, and Rarity wanted to avoid that.

Rainbow had started to come around late in the second day. The amount of sedative Rarity had given her would have normally kept her out for at least another two or three days, but they had been expired. She was lucky that the chromatically maned pegasus stayed asleep as long as she did. Rainbow groaned loudly and rubbed her hoof across her face, her eyes still heavy thanks to the drug.

"Rainbow!" Rarity cried out, rushing over to see her. Spike looked over her shoulder, grateful to see the flier conscious again.

Her vision was still a bit blurred. Rainbow saw a white figure in front of her that sounded like Rarity. She blinked a few times and her eyes cleared up. Her intuition was correct, and the white unicorn came into view. A purple dragon stood behind her, smiling as Rarity was, happy to see the cyan mare alright.

"R-R-Rarity? W-What happened?" Rainbow asked, shaking her head free of the cobwebs. She looked around and saw the bizarre room around her. All these gadgets looked like a warped version of the stereos that Vinyl Scratch would use for her shows.

"Where am I?" Her glance landed firmly on the unicorn. Rainbow noticed the greying mane and small wrinkles under her eyes, her own suddenly widening in confusion. The purple figure behind her friend grabbed her attention away for a moment before returning to Rarity. Whatever effects the sedative had on her were wearing off in a hurry.

"What's going on? What is this place?! How did- oowwww!" Rainbow shrieked as she flapped her wings, trying to get off the ground. She spun her head, wondering why she was hurting. She had been too distracted the last time she felt the stabbing pain and wasn't aware of what shape her wings were in.

"What happened to my wings?!" Shaking and breathing heavily, panic started to overtake her. She stared straight ahead, a million things racing through her mind, her thoughts unsure of where to go.

"Spike, get another sedative ready just in case," Rarity told her companion. "Rainbow, look at me."

The pegasus continued to stare vacantly.

"Rainbow!" the unicorn yelled, finally grabbing her attention.

"W-W-What's- ?"

"Rainbow, relax. You're with friends," Rarity said soothingly, caressing her friend's cheek.

The young mare's stomach was turning. She tried and failed to hide the fear that was coursing through her. "Rarity, what's going on? What happened to your hair?" She glanced at the dragon, "Is.. is that Spike over there? What happened to him? What's going on?!"

Rarity gently put a hoof on her lips, "Shhh. Rainbow, I.. what I'm about to say is going to be a shock to you, and there's no easy way for me to explain it, so I'll just come right out and say it." She sighed sadly and looked her friend straight in the eyes.

"We haven't seen you in over forty years."

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