• Published 19th Oct 2012
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Eljunbyro - Imploding Colon



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

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Rainbow Dash hovered low, at nearly head level, in a lethargic attempt to avoid the dangling stalactites above her. Her tired eyes squinted forward, watching the trotting bodies of Crimson, Zenith, and Phoenix at the head of the descending procession. Her nostrils flared, producing a deep sigh.

"Rainbow Dash?" Bellesmith spoke from directly behind her. "How are you holding up, darling?"

"I'm holding," Rainbow Dash muttered. "Wish I could say the same about my ego. But we're all alive, and that's what matters."

"Phoenix offered to let you ride on the back of him, y'know."

"Heh... no thanks..." Rainbow smiled awkwardly. "That was nice of him earlier and all, but if I wanted a flank-scented pillow, I would have slept on Eagle Eye instead. I'm sure he smells like bedsheets all the time."

Belle grinned slightly. "Truth is stranger than fiction."

"Don't I know it..."

"Seriously, though, you must be really, really tired."

"I'm fine, Belle..."

"Maybe you could at least rest your wings?"

"I relax when I hover." Rainbow Dash glanced behind her. "You should know that by now."

Belle bit her lip and nodded. "Yes. Yes, I do."

"Good, then." Rainbow fidgetd in mid-air, then looked ahead.

Several more seconds passed, punctuated by thundering echoes from the shelling above.

Eventually, Rainbow's voice cracked, "C-can I ask you something, Belle?"

"Sure! I mean... anything, Rainbow Dash..."

"Are you... well..." Rainbow Dash winced. "Er, never mind..."

"What is it?"

"It's stupid."

"I don't believe in stupid questions."

Rainbow glanced back at her with a bemused grin. She just as swiftly sighed and slowed her hover so that she drifted alongside Belle down the winding tunnel. "Are you and Pilate... y'know..."

"What?"

"Are you ashamed to be here?"

Belle's chestnut eyes blinked. "Ashamed?"

"Let's face it," Rainbow spoke bluntly. "You two could have had it so much better. I could have avoided that city with the psycho stallion. I could have handled the mana sphere thingy better. I could have made us avoid Foxtaur to begin with." Rainbow exhaled heavily. "You two could have had it way, waaaaaaay better. Face it, Belle, I blew it."

"Rainbow Dash..." Belle leaned in spoke in earnest, her voice soft. "You've saved us time and time again! You're the reason why the enforcers at Blue Shelf didn't turn us into organic paste! You kept our lives intact and have given us a new future!"

"You call this much of a future?" Rainbow Dash's lips were thin and straight. "I thought I could juggle the two of you AND fly the three of us east. Tchh..." She blew at a tuft of prismatic mane hair. "Once again, I bit off more than I could chew, and ponies I care about are taking the brunt of it."

"You're dealing with cruel forces beyond your control—!"

"So what, I should stick you guys in harm's way? Over and over again?" Rainbow's ruby eyes were thin. "Belle, what if all of that Whitemane nonsense is even remotely legit? You remember all that crud she rambled on about? About me being the Spurt of the world and stuff?"

"Spark."

"Whatever." Rainbow Dash shrugged. "What I'm getting at, is that if a powerful alicorn thinks I'm something worth shaking a stick at, and if an ancient dragon can't bother to destroy me, and if an entire continent full of unicorns want me dead—is that really something you two should be sticking around?"

"Our lives were dangerous before you even showed up, Rainbow," Belle said quietly. She gave a hopeful smile. "We just didn't know it yet."

"And you didn't have to," Rainbow grumbled. She looked ahead as the winding tunnels opened towards a large cavern, dripping with moisture and an underwater lake. "You might think I'm going somewhere. Pilate and his old books and discoveries may think I'm going somewhere, but I'm just flying as fast as I can in one direction, Belle. You and Pilate are along for the ride—sure—but how long?"

"Well, I-I thought that we were aiming for a place far past Ledomaritan and Xonan influence—"

"And just how far will that be, huh?" Rainbow Dash frowned. "Before or after the Grand Choke? Or the end of the world? Or the Midnight Armory?"

"Uhm..."

"Belle..." Rainbow Dash shook her head with a pained expression. Her next breath was a squeaking thing, "Do we both honestly think I'm gonna even last that long?"

Belle said nothing. She avoided Rainbow's gaze and brushed a hoof through her mane.

"What if I collapsed—like—without warning? And it was a dizzy spell that I couldn't come back from? What would you and Pilate do? You'd be out in the middle of nowhere?"

"We'd be free, Rainbow..."

"You'd be screwed," Rainbow grunted. "And it would all be my fault?"

"So what, then?" Belle glared back at her. "We've come this far, Rainbow. The two of us know you're not the type of pony to give up on anything. Why are you even bringing this up?"

Rainbow's mouth lingered open. She said, "I've been alone for so long, Belle, with all I ever cared for gone." She gulped. "I never really thought about... about doing stuff for living ponies that would outlast me." She hovered even slower as she confessed, "I was friendless when Axan did me in. I... I almost think life would have stayed simpler for everypony if I... if I just stayed dead..."

Belle blinked at that. Before she could say anything—

"Gaaugh!" Crimson slipped on a loose sheet of pebbles.

Pilate's manasphere spun around as the zebra's eyes flicked.

"Crimson!" Eagle Eye chirped.

"Grrrgh!" Crimson hung off the edge of a jagged cliff overlooking a sea of jagged stalagmites below. The crook of his hooves were starting to slip as his muscular body trembled. "Could... use a h-hoof here..."

"Hang on!" Zenith reached over, grabbing one of Crimson's hooves in his. The stallion's muscles tensed as he pulled and pulled.

He wasn't alone. In a blue blur, Rainbow Dash was hovering beneath Crimson. She gave his flank a boost, and Zenith was able to yank Crimson in a heavy slump onto even ground.

"Ooof!" As Crimson fell, a loose shard of blue crystal fell free from his vest. It rattled across the floor.

Phoenix's and Zenith's eyes followed it.

The rattling noise ended as soon as the sound stone came to a stop against a blue hoof. Rainbow Dash raised the item to her gasp, staring at it closely.

Crimson stared up at her, his face pale.

Rainbow Dash blinked. She gazed between the stone and at Crimson. "What's this?"

Phoenix bit his lip. Zenith stared, silent as the earth around them.

Eagle Eye's wide violet eyes blinked.

"Seriously." Rainbow's brow furrowed as she raised the shard higher. "What is this?"

Belle and Pilate trotted to a stop.

"Cr-Crimson?" Eagle Eye murmured.

The muscular stallion ran a hoof through his mane, shuddering. He glanced at his soldiers.

Zenith and Phoenix stared back.

Everything was quiet, save for the dull thunder of the shelling high above.

Finally, Crimson stood up, brushed himself off, and spoke to Rainbow Dash with an exhausted sigh. "We need to talk."

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