• Published 19th Oct 2012
  • 9,075 Views, 9,536 Comments

Eljunbyro - Imploding Colon

Bellesmith must perform experimental tasks in order to keep herself and her beloved safe.

  • ...

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Nothing But

Pilate was the first to stand up, his ears twitching as his jaw dropped in alarm. Soon, he wasn't the only one hearing the incoming mayhem. Phoenix, Eagle Eye, Bellesmith, and even Roarke glanced up in time to see specks of burning ash falling in rampant droves.

"Wh-what...?" Belle stammered.

"No way..." Phoenix gulped.

"Everypony!" Eagle Eye shouted, scampering towards the thick of the group and waving his forelimbs. "Down! Behind the walls! Incoming!"

Belle shrieked as a huge shell landed in the clearing before them. A wave of dust flew their way, followed by billowing flames. Phoenix yanked her out of the blast before her coat could be singed. Loose branches and chunks of trees fell in a splintery shower as the group huddled bethind a solid layer of ancient mortar.

"They're coming from a distant location!" Pilate exclaimed, flinching as more burning bits littered the edges of the ruins around them. "Unless we're suddenly having a meteor shower, I suspect our pursuers have begun a new bombardment!"

"Yeah, and they're not joking around this time!" Phoenix growled, clutching his mace to his body as he pressed himself up to the wall. "Whatever crap they have in those shells, it's liable to burn down half of Foxtaur!"

"Oh goodness..." Belle bit her lip. "Rainbow and the others!"

"They would be in the wake of it by now!" Phoenix shouted, squinting out into the blazing depths of the western forest. "Unless they're faster than fire, I'm not sure we should hope for much."

"How can you say that?!" Eagle Eye barked. "The Cap'n is out there!"

"Hey, I don't remember ever agreeing that the whole 'commandeer the metal mare ship' thing was a good idea!"

"Speaking of which," Pilate managed, "Aren't we missing something?"

"Aww jeez!" Eagle Eye grunted, staring out into the burning clearing. The bound, armor-stripped figure of Roarke lay naked, exposed to the flickering elements. "Phoenix, I thought you had her!"

"Why the hay would I have dragged her here with us?!" The mustached stallion frowned. "It's not like she would have done the same!"

"Well, we can't just leave her to die!" Belle shouted.

An entire tree crashed into the ruins, shattered into timber against the brick, and tumbled off with a spray of ashes.

Phoenix flinched and roared above the collapsing forest all around them. "If you wanna save that murderous piece of crap so badly, you run out there and help her yourself!"

"Phoenix, that's not the attitude Crimson's taught us to engender!" Eagle Eye exclaimed.

"I only remember him telling us to look after the pegasus' friends!" Phoenix retorted. "At least they're respectable equines worth saving!"

"I'm going out there for her—" Eagle Eye moved to gallop out of cover.

"Like heck you are!" Phoenix tugged him back with telekinesis. "Of all the stupid things to die pointlessly for, that's gotta be the lamest!"

"Let me go, Phoenix!"

"Nothing to it, Princess!"

"For the last time!" Eagle Eye snarled, his violet eyes flaring in the firelight. "Stop calling me—!"

"Look out!" Pilate shouted. "Something's falling!"

"Above!" Belle pointed.

Phoenix and Eagle Eye stared towards the canopy. A huge oak tree was toppling over towards them. In a flash, they stopped arguing completely and aimed their horns towards the collapsing body of wood. They managed to halt its descent just a meter from the cowering group. Pilate and Belle hugged each other, witnessing in fright as the stallions struggled to ward off the weight of the murderously heavy tree.

"It's... slipping...!" Eagle Eye whimpered, his tensed face awash in sweat.

"We... n-need somepony to clear it!" Phoenix groaned through clenched teeth. "Otherwise, it's gonna—"

The tree lurched some more against the magic field. It was just inches from the quartet of ponies.

"P-Pilate!" Belle began.

"Shhh—!" Pilate managed a breathless grin. "Don't worry!"

Just then, a series of heavy hoofsteps bounded up. "Nnnngh!" Crimson charged onto the scene, swinging his hammer. With one fell swoop, he smashed the burnt tree trunk to bits. Zenith was close behind, adding his magic field to the other two mercenaries'. With teamwork, the soldiers were able to float the chunks of wooden debris away.

Rainbow Dash flew down and hovered above the group, panting. "So, yeah, what's up with you guys?"

"Who's firing at us?!" Eagle Eye asked.

"Who do you think?" Zenith glared, then turned towards Crimson. "Captain, the passage?"

"Right!" Crimson motioned with his head and started moving east. "Everypony! Follow me!"

"Wait, what passage?!" Bellesmith exclaimed. "Where are we going?"

"Soon, this whole forest is going to go up in smoke!" Crimson said. "The only swift way out is through a series of caves that lead to the Sapphire Ravine east of here!"

"The Sapphire Ravine?!" Pilate remarked. "That runs north and south along the edge of Foxtaur! We'll be flushed out into the open!"

"Look, newspaper stand, if you have any brighter ideas, we're all ears!" Zenith shouted, motioning towards the rest of the group. "Right now, this is exactly the last place we friggin' want to be!"

"Wh-what about the bounty hunter's ship?" Pilate asked.

"No go," Rainbow Dash said. "Looks like we have to hoof it through this mess." She twitched suddenly, glancing left into the immediate clearing from where she hovered. "Wait a minute..."

"Come on! Let's move it!" Crimson shouted. "EE! That means you!"

"But Captain—!" Eagle Eye was pointing into the clearing. Rainbow Dash hovered down, placing a hoof on his shoulder.

"Go with him. I'll take care of it."


"Dude, look..." Rainbow Dash stared at him face to face. "I need somepony to look after my friends." A tree collapsed nearby, showering them with ashes. Eagle Eye flinched, but Rainbow Dash didn't budge an inch. "Can you do that for me?"

Eagle Eye bit his lip. Eventually, he nodded his lavender head. "Yeah. But you don't do anything stupid, okay?"

"You mean stupider than the usual?" Rainbow Dash smirked and shoved him off.

Eagle Eye yanked at Belle and Pilate, ushering them through the smoky mess. "Okay! This way, ponies! Stay close!"

"Wait! Rainbow Dash!" Belle called from the hurrying group. "What about Rainbow Dash?!"

"I'll be close behind!" Rainbow shouted. "I promise!"

That said, she spun and blurred out from under the ruins. She was instantly pelted with burning flakes of wood and sizzling sparks. Braving the searing heat, she skimmed the forest floor and landed next to the wriggilng captive.

"Okay! Sorry about all that! We found a safe way out of here, so lemme just undo those restraints—"

"Hrrggh!" Roarke shouted, gnashing at Rainbow with her teeth.

"Whoah!" Rainbow stumbled back.

"Undo your own birth, you dishonorable pile of filth!" The lense-eyed mare hissed beneath the noise. "You didn't have the decency to kill me, so why should I allow you to save me?!"

"Girl! For real!" Rainbow Dash frowned. "Don't you see what's going on all around you?! Now may be a very good time to take the huge, flammable stick out of your butt!"

"I don't need your pity or your humor!" Roarke grinned demonically, writhing in her restraints. "If I die hear and now, my comrades will think that my prey killed me! At least then my legacy will stay intact!"

"Boasting isn't worth a ball of spit if you're not alive to revel in it! Now—Nnnnghh!" Rainbow Dash bit into the cord holding Roarke's rear legs together and ripped them to shreds. "Stop being a stubborn pony or else you'll become a stubborn corpse—"

Roarke replied by bucking Rainbow in the face.

"Ooof!" Rainbow Dash fell down. She reached two hooves up and gripped a bleeding nose. Her bright ruby eyes stared across the ring of fire.

"I would rather die a thousand deaths than live one life courtesy of you!" Roarke spat on the ground, frowning viciously into the smoke. "There is no courage to be had in an existence that is simply given to oneself! There is only weakness and shame!"

Just then, a roar of thunder rumbled overhead. Roarked looked up.

A pair of trees were crumbling, falling over, converging on her in a wave of smoldering death.

Roarke clenched her jaw, curled into a ball, and froze in the shadow of her fate. She took a breath—surprised to be taking a breath—and glanced up nervously. Her jaw dropped.

"Hckkkt..." Rainbow Dash stood directly above the metal mare on her two rear limbs. What was transpiring over her was a wonder that actually stole the breath from Roarke's lungs. With two bare hooves, the pegasus was holding up the combined weight of both trees. She gritted her teeth, and Roarke could have sworn she saw a pair of yellow eyes burning brightly in the pony's sockets. Something was odd about her neck; it was barren.

With pistoning lenses, Roare glanced down at the forest floor. She saw the ruby lightning bolt of the discarded pendant glistening from the surrounding flames.

After a few earth-shattering seconds, Rainbow Dash screamed in an unearthly voice and flung the two trunks apart. The ground shook from their fall, and soon the pegasus herself was collapsing to the grass as the green blades curled from the heat. Wincing all over as if from a terrible seizure, Rainbow Dash slowly inched her way forward across the burning clearing, crawling one inch at a time—one hoof at a time—towards the pendant. When she finally reached it, she flung it swiftly back around her neck as if it was her very own heart. Once secure, her eyes strobed back to its normal ruby color, and she began breathing easily. For a second there, it looked like the pegasus' coat had grown longer, for it was just now receding back into her flesh. Two noticeable spots on Rainbow's forehead were leaking blood, as if a pair of daggers had attempted burrowing out from her cranium.

Panting, hyperventilating, Rainbow Dash looked up through a dizzying curtain of sweat. Upon making eye contact with Roarke's lenses, she gulped, then stammered breathily, "Sometimes, lady, the most c-courageous thing is admitting that y-you've been nothing but weak all along..."

Roarke stared, gawking.

"Look..." Rainbow winced, pushing herself up on wobbly limbs. "I-I won't force you to follow us. But I'll be darned if I leave you without the ability to run from all this nonsense. So if you wanna die, fine. Go do it on your own time." She squatted, reached down, and swiftly undid the bindings on Roarke's forelimb. "I dunno about you silly Searonese, but I'm tired of having blood on my hooves. Ya feel me?"

Roarke rubbed her forelimbs just as soon as they were free. She didn't dare look at Rainbow's face.

"Pfft. Whatever. I've got friends to help out." She flapped her wings, took off, and blurred her way east through the burning mess. "Maybe you'll actually live long enough to win some of your own!"

Roarke was alone. By the way she shivered, it may have been the first time she truly realized it. More branches and burning lengths of wood fell around her. With renewed vigor, the brown pony spun with a rattle of her mane's ringlets, and tore off for the western edge of Foxtaur, heading into the thick of the blaze.

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