• 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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All's Well

"I... uh..." Rainbow Dash gulped. "I-I really mean it, Belle." She smiled nervously. "You've been carrying that stuff long enough. Lemme have a turn at it."

"Nonsense, Rainbow!" Belle smiled as she finished tying the midnight blue saddlebag around her flank. The cavern echoed around her with the sound of her jubilant voice. "You've been through a lot lately, what with outflying managliders and beating up bounty hunters..."

"Don't forget getting our sorry hides into the cavern and away from a burning death," Eagle Eye added with a violet blink from where he sat, sharpening his sword.

Belle giggled and nodded. "You can't be expected to shoulder the burden all of the time!"

"It's... uh... it's n-no burden." Rainbow Dash tried to smile, but it cracked as much as her voice as she said, "I just haven't carried my stuff in a while, and I'm starting to feel like a total slob."

"Pfft! You might be quick to doze off every now and then, Rainbow, but you're hardly any slob." Belle patted Rainbow on the shoulder. "Don't worry. I'm not nearly as dainty as you think I am. I can carry the load a little while longer."

"Besides..." Pilate smiled from where he sat with O.A.S.I.S. "She's grown quite attached to it."

Belle rolled her eyes. "So what if I feel like royalty for carrying this fine fabric around from time to time?"

"Hey... uhm..." Eagle Eye raised his hoof. "Could I take a turn carrying the saddlebag sometime?"

Pilate chuckled. So did Crimson, weathering a bruise or two as he stirred a miniature fire in the center of the group.

Rainbow Dash blinked a few times, then joined in, although her ears drooped the entire time.

"I must say, when we're through all of this, I intend to sit down and do a lot of reading," Pilate said with a smirk. He cocked his head in Rainbow's direction. "I made some remarkable discoveries back at the ruins. Granted, I still have to articulate them, but I can't wait to share my findings."

"Crimson mentioned something about that," Rainbow murmured. "A bunch of drawings huh?"

"More than that! They're virtual hoofprints! They're evidence of a winged pony civilization that has existed in this region long before even the caribou of ancient times! Why... I wouldn't be surprised if the entire skies around this place was full of pegasi!"

A dull thud echoed throughout the chamber.

"Pffft.. yeah..." Eagle Eye muttered with a thin gaze. "Now it's just full of flak and shelling."

"Don't mind my beloved," Belle said with a sly grin as she leaned over to nuzzle the zebra. "The way I go crazy over saddlebags, he goes crazy over history."

"So sue me, Belle," Pilate muttered. "Someday, I intend on making some of my own."

"Well, yeesh, if we get out of here, you bet!" Eagle Eye exclaimed.

"We will get out of here," Crimson said in a calm tone. "And if we're lucky, we won't make history."

"Yeah..." Rainbow Dash added in a muttering tone. "Safe p-ponies never make thie history books." She glanced up at Crimson.

Crimson silently looked back.

"Rainbow...?"

Rainbow turned and blinked. "Hmmm?"

Belle was staring at her. Slowly, her smile was melting into something colder than confusion. "Are you alright? You've been... antsy ever since we came down here. Is everything alright?"

"I... erm... uh..."

Belle giggled. "Oh, silly me. I forgot how much you hate caves."

Rainbow bit her lip and ran a hoof through her mane with a dry chuckle. "Yeah, no. No... I-I guess I'll never really be a fan of them—"

"This is bad! This is very, very bad!" a voice shouted from up ahead.

Rainbow Dash shot up immediately into an anxious hover. She and every other pony in the room spun to see a noticeably frazzled stallion rushing up from the adjacent corridor.

"Phoenix...?" Crimson squinted, his lips pursing in concern.

"By the Spark!" Eagle Eye jumped up on quivering hooves, his violet eyes wide. "I don't think I've ever seen you in such a mess! Even your mustache is everywhere!"

"What's going on?" Pilate asked, his ears twitching.

Phoenix leaned against a rock alcove, panting heavily. He grimaced before sputtering forth, "It's Zenith!"

Belle and Rainbow Dash exchanged glances.

Crimson blinked, and then his eyes narrowed in a steely fashion. "What about him?!"

"He's... He's run off!"

Belle gasped. Rainbow Dash's brow furrowed as she hovered.

"Wh-what do you mean he's run off?!" Eagle Eye barked.

Phoenix gulped and pointed a shaky hoof down the passage behind him. "I-I tried to stop him! But y-you know how crazy he can be with that polearm of his! He knocked me down and galloped down the corridor, spouting nonsense about how he's gonna try and go get enemy's attention! T-to try and strike a deal or something!"

"No way!" Eagle Eye flashed a shocked look at the Captain. "That's totally not like Zenith! He's way more level-headed than that!"

"Maybe the claustrophobia and the constant shelling finally got to him," Pilate remarked, then shivered as another dull thud roared through the domain. "I can most certainly relate."

"W-we have to stop him!" Belle exclaimed in a gasping voice. "If he alerts the Ledomaritans—"

"—we're done for!" Phoenix exclaimed, then glanced over at Crimson. "Captain, I-I tried to reason to him! But he's lost his mind! I swear!"

Crimson's nostrils flared as he grinded his hoof across the floor. "I swear, I saw this coming. This is all my fault. I've let this happen..."

"We can worry about that later!" Eagle Eye telekinetically shouldered his sword and shield. "Captain, we gotta catch up to him! He must be halfway to the Sapphire Ravine by now!"

"I-I don't know if anyone of us would even make it on time..." Phoenix stammered. His eyes rose up... up...

Rainbow Dash flew forward. "Right. I'll catch him."

"Rainbow, wait—" Belle exclaimed.

"I'm the fastest!" Rainbow gestured to herself. "I'll tackle him and end this nonsense P.D.Q!"

"Not on your own, you won't," Crimson said. "I know Zenith's fighting moves inside and out. I don't care if he's lost his noodle; I taught him everything he knows." Crimson turned towards Eagle Eye. "EE. You stay here and look after the two love birds."

"Wait—What?!" Eagle Eye did a double-take. "But it's Zenith we're talking about here!"

"No arguing! We have to play it safe or—"

"Eagle Eye's onto s-something!" Phoenix suddenly blurted, stealing everypony's attention with a wave of his hooves. "The sh-shelling! Uhhh... uhh... th-this place could fall down at anytime!" He licked his mustached lips and nervously added, "We really shouldn't split up!"

"Phoenix..." Crimson sighed.

"It's a wise precaution," Pilate said with a nod. "With as crazy as recent events have been, it would be incredibly dangerous for all of us if we don't remain together."

"R-right! Now let's go!" Phoenix motioned.

"Captain?" Eagle Eye asked.

Crimson stirred where he stood.

Rainbow Dash looked at him, at Phoenix, then at Belle—or more specifically the saddlebag on her back. Frowning—then shaking—she blurred off in a sapphiric streak. "Fine! Let's go, everypony, but I'm flying ahead first to catch him!"

"Careful!" Crimson shouted as he stamped out the fire and lifted his hammer. "The edge of the ravine can't be that far off! Whatever you do, make sure you don't expose yourself to the fleet!" After Rainbow left, he gnashed his feet and kicked at the ground. "Spark's flame! What's gotten into that stallion?!"

"We'd better get moving!" Eagle Eye exclaimed, dashing up the corridor after Rainbow Dash. "He'll expose us all!"

"Phoenix?!" Crimson shouted.

"R-right..." The mustached stallion gulped and galloped beside Pilate and Bellesmith. "I'll take up the rear."

"You do that. Let's move!" Crimson thundered ahead on muscular limbs. The breathless couple were hot on his hooves.

"Just stay next to me, Pilate, whatever you do," Belle said. "It's a rocky series of tunnels, from the looks of it, so careful where you step."

"I'll just lean on you, darling."

"I'm right here."

Following the end of the group, Phoenix bit his lip and broke into a swift trot.

Far... far up ahead...

Rainbow Dash was surging up the winding tunnels as swiftly as her wings could carry her. She gnashed her teeth, muttering angry words and spouting a few alicorns' names in vain. At every twist and turn, he hoped to see the flouncing tail of Zenith in full gallop. Instead, she saw a whole lot of rock, rock, and more rock. She was about to raise a hoof to her pendant to illuminate the area, when suddenly she didn't have to.

The outside world greeted Rainbow in a heated, windy burst, followed by a dull dance of flickering amber light. She winced from a few flakes of burning embers flying into her face, giving her nostrils a flashback of a ruined city beneath the shadow of dragons. A grand, gaping chasm greeted her, looming from just beyond the edge of a cliff that was four leaps' across. Down below, at a depth of over three hundred feet, a narrow stream of rapids roared its way south, flanked on the west and east side by ancient gravel. Far across the canyon and due east, a jagged plateau of oversized, glistening blue stones reflected a blazing spectacle behind her.

Rainbow Dash spun around and glanced directly up. She gasped at the sight of Foxtaur's east edge: completely on fire. Burning branches and smoldering bits of tinder fell all around her, littering the canyon below with ashen debris. The smoke rising from the humongous blaze was blinding, and the faintest hint of a rising sun's golden rays added a platinum sheen to the highest tufts of billowing smog.

"Oh for the love of oats..." Rainbow Dash hissed. Her golden pendant reflected the firelight as she spun around, looking every which wah. "Where did that dumb box of nails run off to? Did he leap into the canyon?" She stared directly down at the admittedly shallow rapids far below. "Nah... I couldn't be that lucky."

All was bedlam: the sound of constant burning and crumbling wood. As holocaustal as the scene was, there was no single sign of the looming battleships above the blaze.

Wincing, Rainbow Dash decided to chance it. She flew out directly into the thick of the canyon, spinning about, covering great lengths of the ravine and shouting into the spacious enormity of it all.

"Hey! Zenith?! Where the hay are you?!" She panted and hovered and dodged burning debris. Coming about, her spasming eyes scanned the cliff and where it sloped gradually towards the canyon below, providing one singular route of escape for a terrestrially bound unicorn. "For Celestia's sake! This isn't funny! You know how many ponies' lives you're putting at risk?! Show yourself!"

"R-Rainbow Dash?"

Breathless, Rainbow Dash hovered in mid-air and looked back at the cliff.

Eagle Eye stood dead-still upon the tunnel's exit, his jaw dropped. He was not alone. Crimson ran up, sweating, coming to a slow trot.

"Wh-what gives?!" Eagle Eye. "Wh-where's Zenith? Where'd he run off to?"

"You tell me!" Rainbow's voice cracked as she pointed at the petite lavender unicorn. "You've got the good vision! Look around! I sure don't see a single sign of him!"

Crimson blinked quizzically, saying nothing. All the while, Eagle Eye squawked, "This is chaos!" The delicate stallion hopped aside to avoid a collapsing twig of burning leaves. "Nopony in their right mind would come out here!"

"And who said Zenith was in his right mind?!"

"He's usually smarter than this! That's what confuses me!"

"What's the matter?" Belle stammered breathlessly as she and Pilate stumbled out of the tunnel. They stood beside Eagle Eye on the cliff's edge, squinting into the amber glow of the blazes. "Is... Is he gone?"

"So m-much chaos..." Pilate shuddered, his head tilting every which way. "Is that... Foxtaur burning?"

"It's absolutely horrible, Pilate." Belle gulped and looked towards Rainbow. "Do you see him?"

"Ask hawkeye there! I can't see a darn thing!"

"Eagle...?"

"I'm just as stumped as the rest of you! Captain, none of this makes sense!"

"Belle..." Pilate dryly murmured.

"There's no sign of him, Pilate..."

"Something's wrong," Pilate said, his ears twitching. "The shelling."

"What about it?"

"It's... stopped."

Rainbow Dash glanced over, her ruby eyes narrow.

Crimson blinked. Slowly, quietly, he turned around. He looked into the tunnel.

Phoenix stood inside, dead as a statue. Upon Crimson's glance, he shuddered, and backtrotted into a phalanx of shadows conspicuously shaped like unicorns. He choked on a sob, then mouthed two words before turning around and bolting back down into the corridor.

Crimson's mouth dropped. Eyes flaring, the muscular stallion spun around—just as a high-pitched whistle fell through the ravine air—and he shouted. "No!"

The cliff exploded. Bodies and mane hair went flying as soon as the singular shell hit. Rainbow Dash was knocked skyward with a blood-curdling shriek. Crimson's grunting form rolled towards the edge as smoke consumed the canyon, interrupted only when the first of several dozen managliders dove like chaos monsters into the shattering fray.

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