• Published 8th Sep 2012
  • 3,949 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 8

With a pull of the triggers, the two attack planes opened fire at the unaware dragon below them. As per their orders, they avoiding shooting directly at him. Four trails of dirt exploded out of the ground in front of Spike, causing him to come to sudden stop, nearly throwing Rainbow Dash off his back.

"Whoa! What the hell?!" He looked up and quickly spotted his attackers barreling down at him. "Ah shit! How did I miss them? Hang on!"

The startled pegasus grabbed onto Spike's neck just as he took a sharp turn up toward the jets, almost losing her grip on the rocket launcher. In response, the pilots pulled up and leveled out, flying to the southwest, leading the drake on the intended chase. Their engines roared with a sudden burst of acceleration.

Spike flapped harder than his passenger expected he could. He kept up with the planes as they dashed away over their heads, but just barely. He caught up to their height, hot on their trails. They had made sure to stay a fair distance away, out of range of his flame breath. May as well not tempt fate. After a few minutes of being pursued, the pilots looked to each other and nodded, their speed waning, allowing Spike to catch up slightly.

"Rainbow, load that thing up and get it ready!" the dragon commanded.

She reached into her saddlebag and pulled out a rocket with her teeth, barely managing to hold onto it through the heavy winds rushing past her. She realized that one slip could mean a long fall to the ground that would probably end up getting them both killed if Spike had to stop chasing his attackers and go rescue her. That made it all the more difficult for her to maintain her balance as she juggled holding onto the cumbersome weapon in her hooves and grabbing its ammunition. Once she was able to get a hoof on the rocket itself, she loaded the launcher as Rarity had shown her, hearing the distinct click that indicated it was ready to fire.

"Got it. Now what?"

"Aim it at one of the planes and shoot, just like we showed you!"

"What'll happen if I hit one?"

"It'll blow up, and if the plane isn't instantly destroyed, the pilot will be killed if he doesn't eject."

"What?!" Rainbow gasped. "You're asking me to kill somepony?!"

Spike turned slightly and glared at her out of the corner of his eye, "Look Rainbow, things are a lot different than you remember, and you saw them shooting at us! They tried to kill us, and if they get the chance, they'll try it again! Now fire that thing!"

Struggling to stay sitting up, Rainbow pointed the launcher at the plane on the right. Once she had it lined up properly, she gulped and took a deep breath. She primed her hoof on the trigger, ready to shoot. But, she hesitated. Her leg trembled nervously at the idea of taking the life of another pony. The thought had never even crossed her mind, whether she was dealing with minor nuisances like Gilda at Pinkie's party or snakes like Discord. She lowered the weapon slowly with tears forming in her eyes.

"Spike.. I.."

"Just shoot the damn thing, Rainbow!"

With guilt in her heart, she pointed the rocket launcher at her original target. After a moment of trying to persuade herself to fight back against an uncompromising enemy, she shut her eyes and shook nervously, finally firing the shot. It veered wildly off course, missing to the far right by a significant distance.

Her eyes still clenched tight, she asked, "Did I hit him?"

"No, but you still shot, so that's good! Just try again!"

A part of her wished she had hit the plane so she get the internal conflict dispatched with. She understood she was just trying to protect them from against a terrible enemy, but she had never fought one that was willing to kill.

She fumbled through the saddlebag again and slid out another rocket, locking it into place. Uncertainty began to creep into her mind again as she took aim.

'Why aren't these guys trying to get away from me?' Spike thought. 'No evasive maneuvers or anything. What's their deal?'

Rainbow was just about ready to squeeze the trigger when the dragon yelled out in surprise as a second pair of planes raced past him, one on each side, not missing their fellow pilots by much. The sudden gust of wind nearly flipped Spike around, almost making Rainbow lose her grip. She thought herself fortunate that his scales were quite a bit worn and thus not terribly slick. She did feel a little irritated that she had accidentally fired the second rocket away before she was ready.

Spike adjusted himself and hovered for a moment, spotting the new arrivals turning back around behind him. The two they had been chasing also turned around, trying to box him in.

"A trap, huh? And I thought this was going to be boring," he said with a smirk. "Hang on tight, Rainbow!"

Spike spun around to face his new attackers and climbed higher into the sky, flapping his mechanical wings even harder than before. His speed continued to surprise the pegasus. He needed to get some distance between himself and the original planes, and the fact that they were turning around gave him slight head start. Getting all his enemies on one side was priority, however. Even with Rainbow riding him and holding on for dear life, he didn't have eyes in the back of his head, and she wasn't as experienced in this type of battle as he was. That could be a liability, so he didn't want to rely on her trying to warn him where they were attacking from the way Rarity used to.

The second group climbed up, trying to cut him off and get in a few good shots. Spike had the better angle and let loose a quick but powerful fiery blast at the noses of their planes as he passed overhead, causing them to back off from their ascent. It was more of a deterrent than an actual attack. While his flame breath could damage the jets, it needed to be in just the right spot or a concentrated dose of it. Their companions slowed their chase and maneuvered out of the way to let the reinforcements collect themselves after the scare and join up alongside them.

"Rainbow, when I give the signal, reload!" he ordered.

With a quick lean right and sharp downward turn, the purple dragon took a nosedive. He flexed his wings half closed and used gravity to speed his fall. The four pilots followed suit, the planes needing to lean only slightly.

"Alright, do it now. On my next signal, aim quickly and shoot, got it?"

"OK!" she said with a tremble in her voice.

Without putting much thought into the situation around her, she grabbed and locked the third rocket in place. Maybe it was panic sinking in. Maybe it was adrenaline. Maybe it was a bit of both. It only took a few seconds to get the rocket ready again, but everything ran in slow motion for her. Spike was still falling fast when she was ready.

She gulped hard, knowing what connecting with the weapon would mean. "Good to go!"

He nodded and spun around slowly, not wanting his plan to be ruined by losing his passenger. Rainbow tightened up and gripped his shoulders with her hind legs as he began climbing again. Above him, the jets were lined up in a single row as they descended toward him.

"OK, let her go!"

She held her breath and took the shot. As the rocket climbed, the closest jet broke away from the pack, then the second. The third just barely dodged out of the way, letting his partner take the hit directly behind the cockpit. The resulting fireball blasted out a violent shockwave that knocked the third jet slightly off course. A few small fiery scraps of metal smacked against the underbelly of his jet as the rest of his former partner's plane fell to the earth in a heap. The dark brown pilot straightened up his controls and barrel rolled out of the way quickly as Spike zoomed by him, taking a swipe at the jet with his claws.

"Nice shot, Rainbow!"

She had just killed somepony. She leaned over carefully and watched the remains of one of the flying assault vehicles plummeting to the ground, a thick black trail of smoke belching from the wreckage. Wreckage that had a disintegrated corpse inside it. Watching the destroyed plane fall shocked her system harder than anything she ever experienced before. This was the world she woke up in, and in that one moment, she realized the true meaning of horror.

"Come on, snap out of it! We've still got company!" Spike called out, seeing her stuck in a frozen, empty gaze. His angered voice shook her out of her momentary stupor.

"Uh.. r-right," she stuttered.

She leaned in as Spike turned and gave chase to the temporarily distracted plane. He was only a length and a half behind it, well within range of his flame breath, and peppered its tail with a long, powerful blast. The fins started to glow a faint red and melt as the fire affected it.

A sudden wave of pain erupted from the top of his tail as a series of rounds grazed off a chunk of his flesh. Rainbow jumped in fright at the sparking ricochets off his wings. The other two jets had outflanked him and were charging hard behind him, their assault cannons unloading at the dragon.

"Grab on tight, I've got an idea!"

She did as she was told and Spike flew straight upwards, spinning around to face his attackers. Rainbow lost her grip on the rocket launcher as they suddenly turned higher into the sky and it fell to the earth. He curled himself into a ball and angled his large wings toward the planes, reflecting the low sunbeams into their eyes, the force behind his sudden climb allowing him to hover in midair briefly. He only blinded them for a second, causing them to momentarily lose control of the planes, but it was all the time he needed.

He was instantly on the back of one of his adversaries and he clawed at the metal like it was tin foil, tearing shards and wires out of the plane's body. Afterburner looked up through his canopy at the purple monster staring back at him as he ripped his jet apart. Panicking, he grabbed onto his eject lever, but Spike was prepared for it, having dealt with this maneuver before. The moment the glass flew off, Spike ducked out of the way and reached over the startled pegasus, slamming him hard back into his cockpit, effectively crushing the life out of him.

Spike let his claws slip as the plane started to fall, grabbing hold of the base of the plane's wings. He sat himself up as it continued to spiral to its doom. Putting all his strength behind it, he dug his talons into the steel and ripped a large chunk of the wing from its foundation. He pushed himself and Rainbow off the dying jet and let it slip into oblivion.

He took the steel in his hand and flung it at Maverick like a frisbee. Still a bit blinded from the bright flash of sunlight, he shook his head and squinted behind him, just in time to see his partner's wing coming straight at him. He gasped and tried to bank to the left and out of the way, but there wasn't enough time. The metal piece jammed itself into the plane's side and nearly split it in half, causing Maverick to spin wildly out of control.

He burst out of the cockpit and let his seat go, only to turn around and be met with a fiery blaze that consumed him on impact. He shrieked in agony as his feathers and coat burned away and he fell helplessly to the ground, a flickering trail of fire and a fading screaming being all that remained of the pilot.

"Spike, I dropped the rocket launcher! I'm sorry!" Rainbow managed to say under all the duress. He could almost see her shaking as they darted around the sky. Despite how much she liked to brag about being tough when they were all young, being thrown head first into a bloody war could turn even the strongest pony into a terrified foal.

"Damn. Ah well, there's only one plane left anyway. This won't take long."

-----

"San Palomino, we've got a problem up here!" the chocolate colored stallion said in a panic.

"Colonel?" the radio operator called out. Trixie walked over and held one earpiece up to her head.

"This is Trixie, what's going on up there?"

"Spike's tearing us apart!"

"Dammit, get the job done! Take him down! Did you at least get a look at the pony on his back?" Trixie fumed, slamming a hoof on the console.

"For a moment, but yes! Light blue mare, pegasus, rainbow mane!"

She thought for a second, trying to recollect any mares she may have seen on the battlefield that fit the description. Smirking, she put it to the side in her mind for later. Perhaps General Tiara or somepony else will have have an idea who this mystery mare was and where to find them.

"Colonel?" the headset buzzed.

The former showpony gritted her teeth. "Don't report in until that overgrown lizard is dead, got it?!"

"Yes, ma'am!"

Clearly annoyed by a lack of results, she lobbed the headset back to the beige pony working the radio and stomped off to the table in the center of the room. She could almost feel her already grayed mane getting even grayer over this debacle.

"I'm getting too old for this shit."

-----

The last surviving pilot took a deep breath and reversed direction, charging straight at Spike in a last ditch effort. He hoped deeply that he may get lucky just this once in his relatively short life.

Spike narrowed his eyes as he watched the plane in the distance readying itself for what most pilots would call a suicide mission. It was a played out attack that he had gotten extremely good at disrupting over his years of fighting. He didn't expect this to be an exception.

"You're probably going to go for a bit of a ride, Rainbow. Settle in," he said to his frantic passenger.

She wrapped her now free forelegs around his neck tightly without strangling the dragon, allowing her hind legs to loosen a bit. Spike folded in his wings slightly and charged at the oncoming jet hard, making Rainbow instantly regret her decision as she almost flew off his back. She gathered her strength and held on with everything she had.

Spike dodged and weaved through the sky with impressive agility as the kamikaze pilot fired at the approaching drake, no shots coming close to making contact. Rapidly closing in on the jet, he opened his wings wide and full, increasing his altitude by a few feet and leaning left. The blue mare slammed her eyes shut as they were about to collide.

The dark brown pilot's eyes widened when he realized what Spike was about to do. "Mayday! Mayd- "

The dragon spun hard at the last second, barrel rolling and slicing through the cockpit and pilot at a sharp angle with his wing. The crunching jolt of metal on metal, despite how sharp the edge of the wing was, caused Spike to grimace in pain. He had always taken a risk doing this stunt, as it could have potentially torn his wing off its setting. He surveyed the damage and, aside from a few tears, a lot of scrapes, and a small dent, it was no worse for wear. He could stay afloat for now and should be able to finish the trek to the command center.

They glanced behind them, watching the plane begin to tumble lazily out of the sky. The nose split off and fell away on its own followed by both halves of the pilot. Spike grinned and reared up, roaring triumphantly.

After his show of superiority, the pair took a last look around the sky, searching for more enemies who dared to challenge them. It was finally clear.

"You OK?" Spike asked his companion.

Despite being an avid flier and having performed similarly styled tricks before, Rainbow remained tightly gripped to Spike's neck, shivering in fear. For the first time in her life, she was scared to death of being in the air, and the dragon could have sworn he saw tears in her eyes. "Y-Yeah. Great," she said between heavy breaths. She noticed the wound on his tail, her personal fears disappearing in an instant. "You're hurt!"

"Eh, it's nothing," he assured her. "We need to get going though. We were almost there and got sidetracked. They're probably already sending more this way."

With a gentle nudge to the east, they resumed their journey to Ghastly Gorge, remaining as low to the ground as possible once again. When he felt he was in a good position, Spike picked up his pace to make up for lost time. It may have not been a terribly drawn out dog fight, but every second now counted even more than before.

-----

About twelve minutes later, they landed in the bottom of the gorge near the river that ran through it. To their left was a small, fairly well hidden trail that one would have to be familiar with to even realize it was there. It followed up the wall of the canyon all the way to the surface, a fatal plunge only a couple missteps away. Fortunately, the denizens of the hidden base were more than used to the trek.

Rainbow dismounted and followed Spike to an unassuming trio of rocks, one large, oval stone with a grainy brown and orange coloration resting comfortably between nearly identical, almost square, tan ones. They were sitting up against one of the many corners of the jagged wall, looking to be as in place as all the other rocks and boulders in the area. He paused for a moment and looked a few feet over his head at a spot on the crag he was familiar with and sighed heavily. He knew they had to be watching and likely sneering at his presence. The pegasus spoke up as he reached for the leftmost rock.

"Spike, if the base is still here, come in with me? Please? You know these ponies better than I do. Maybe they can fix you up?" Rainbow pleaded. "I mean, I know you guys said you left, but do you really think they wouldn't be willing to help you?"

He slowly hung his head, remembering how angry some of his former teammates had gotten when he and Rarity walked out on them. Neither she nor Spike had told anypony other than Applejack, Pinkie Pie and her Party Crashers squad why they decided to abandon the fight. Although the lovers never found out, Commander Derpy did eventually learn of her reasons, not that it eased the sting of their leaving at all.

"I don't know, Rainbow. I can imagine how much most of them must hate me."

"Can you at least try? For me?"

Her nervousness was as clear in her eyes as the air was dry. Even if she did run into a few familiar faces inside, everything else was likely to still be completely foreign to her. She had only briefly experienced what kinds of things this future of Equestria's had and she didn't want to face it alone if she didn't have to.

He sighed and picked up the rock he originally wanted to, "OK. Rarity's going to kill me if she finds out though."

Rainbow walked up to her friend and wrapped her legs around his neck. "Thanks, big guy."

He smiled warmly and pushed a button that was hidden on the underside of the large rock in the center of the small pile. A section of the canyon wall split open down the middle, revealing a hidden tunnel. They cautiously approached the entrance and stepped inside. He stepped on another rock to his right near the wall, no bigger than a large pebble, causing the door to close behind them.

Over their heads were a row of dim lights leading down the hall. Even though Rainbow wouldn't normally be one for sneaking around, she was too uneasy to make an exception in this case. However, she couldn't deny to herself that the way the door was operated was pretty cool. It almost felt like she was in a Daring Do book.

Spike took the lead, almost becoming more and more scared as they continued into the pony-made caverns. He figured they had to know they were here. It was security's job, after all. They came to the end of the hall and followed it to the right. If he remembered correctly, not much farther ahead would be the main room of operations. Unfortunately for the pair, a large number of 'clacks' from the assault rifles in the hooves of the ponies waiting in front of them stood in their way. They stopped dead in their tracks.

"Freeze!"

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