• Published 19th Oct 2012
  • 9,031 Views, 9,515 Comments

Eljunbyro - Imploding Colon

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

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Caving In

Hours later, I touched down beside Princess Luna on the stage. She calmly gazed over at me. Beyond her, I saw the thick crowd of Equestrian ponies dissipating. As the service came to its conclusion, several trotted back home. Others hung in thick clusters, holding private conversations in the streets of Ponyville about the past, both somber and joyful. The air still had a low murmur to it, laced with shadows and sighs.

"What you did here was a good thing, Your Majesty," I said in a low voice. My wings flexed over the midnight blue saddlebag as I felt the bulk of her gifts upon me. "Many ponies really needed this."

"And what of what thou needeth, Rainbow Dash?"

I gulped and managed a thin smile. "You've already given me everything."

Luna slowly bowed her head, then solemnly said, "We only wish we could giveth thee more."

"I... uh..." I squirmed, glancing off to the side.

"Did thou find the service to be fitting?" Luna asked.

I chuckled nervously and nodded. "Oh, totally. Though, uhm..." I shifted nervously and glanced up at one of the six bronze statues "I have only one thing I don't really agree with."

Luna followed the path of my gaze through the graying afternoon. She trotted over and stood in the shadow of the metal pegasus' wingspan. "It was agreed that all of the ponies that brought harmony to Equestria should be remembered."

"Most of them deserve the memorial, Luna," I muttered. "The ones who've given their lives..."

She looked placidly down at me.

I winced and smiled bitterly. "Yeah, I get it. Soon all six of them will be together anyways. It's just a matter of time."

"Thou doth not give thyself enough credit for the good thou hast done," Luna said.

"Believe me, Luna," I said as I approached the edge of the stage, my feathers fluttering in the wind. "The only good thing is what I'm... about... to do..." My gaze was lost in the crowd.

So many bright faces were gazing up at me. Ponies froze in talking, in trotting, in mourning just to gaze at me. Their eyes spoke of sorrow, pride, and shades of loss.

I bit my lip, leaning back from their eyesight as if I was facing a heavy wind. Luna walked up behind me and spoke softly. "Thou art a beacon of joy to them, Rainbow Dash," she said. "As much as thou needeth to lose thyself along the horizon, they dependeth on the knowledge of thy well-being."

"We both know enough about my 'well-being,'" I grumbled. Gulping, I glanced up at the sarcophagus. I saw tiny, ethereal streams of darkness seeping through the heavy concrete blocks. A wave of dizziness flew through me. I wasn't entirely sure how long I had left to stay in Ponyville before the chaos rift exploded through the pillar because of my proximity. No wonder Celestia couldn't speak for the funeral; just how much had she given up for me? "How... how much do they know?" I asked, trying to distract myself.

Luna looked at me solidly. "They only know that thou art departing." With a breath, she clarified, "From Equestria, that is. Not from existence."

I sighed and managed a weak smile. "I thank you, Luna, for being a Princess I can trust."

"The only souls who know are ourelves and our beloved sister," she said. "We do tell her everything, after all."

I shuddered and nodded. "Yeah. I suppose you do."

"She sendeth her best wishes," Luna said in a distant voice. "If it pleaseth thee to know."

I said nothing. I gazed towards the east, my body shivering.

"And..." Luna trotted close by and stroked a wing gently over my head and mane, forcing me to look up at her. "They wouldst wish to send thee their best wishes as well." She gestured towards the nervous crowd of familiar faces. "Perhaps, at least, thou shalt give in to their feelings?"

I bit my lip. I turned and looked at the vulnerable masses. With a sigh, I quietly uttered, "What if I just flew off right here and now without saying a thing?"

Luna said nothing. She didn't need to speak. We both knew what I was going to do.

With a single bound, I descended from the stage. My hooves struck the ground as I coiled my wings and trotted slowly through the group. Swallowing, I summoned a fragile smile and said, "Hey-ya, guys. Uhm... nice statue and all, but I can't really stick around and admire it for much longer. Celestia can't handle me being so close to the rift, and... well... I've got places to be—"

I nearly tripped. I gazed down to see a pale filly nuzzling my forelimb dearly. With a sniffling sound, Sweetie Belle looked up with misty, green eyes. "Can't you stay, Rainbow Dash? Everypony else has gone..."

My mouth hung open. I gazed past her to see a mare and a stallion dressed in black, their heads hanging. Not that far away, two mares in gray gazed with Gummy perched on one of their spines. Twilight's family stood beneath the front of Sugarcube Corner, casting me several lonely expressions from afar.

I gulped and smiled down at Sweetie Belle. "I can't, kiddo. There's a nasty vortex thingy inside that tower over there, and the one thing keeping it from going kablooey is hanging around my neck. It's... uh... it's very dangerous..."

"But you're not afraid of dangerous things!" Sweetie Belle sniffled again, a tear running down her cheek. "You've never been afraid..."

At that moment, her father trotted over and patted her on the back before giving a gentle tug to usher her away from me. I held a hoof up, knelt down, and gazed at Sweetie Belle at eye level.

"Yeah, I'm daring. Sure, I'm courageous." I swallowed hard and said, "But I've also learned to be smart about stuff. Some dangers are best prevented... because there are ponies around that I care about, y'know? Ponies like you. You deserve to live a long time and learn stuff too."

"Is that why you're leaving?" Sweetie Belle asked. "To go and learn about things?"

I blinked at her, but eventually smiled. "Yeah. Sure. That's pretty much it in a nutshell..."

"Goddess speed, Rainbow Dash," Sweetie Belle's father suddenly said.

I looked at him, my brow furrowed. "Yeah," I murmured. "I could totally use the 'speed' part." With a sigh, I smiled calmly down at Sweetie Belle and ruffled her mane. "You earn yourself a wicked awesome cutie mark, kid. I'll pay your family one hundred bits if it turns out to be unrelated to singing." I added a wink.

Sweetie Belle took a sorrowful breath. "You'll come back and see it when it happens, won't you?"

I stared at her. "You bet," I said with a glinting grin. Standing up, I gave her one last pat on the horn and trotted away.

The villagers of Ponyville spread on either side of me, forming a living aisle of color and tears.

"Have a safe journey, Rainbow Dash," Lyra's voice said.

"We're going to miss you," the Mayor added. "All of us..."

"Please stay away from trouble," Bon Bon said, her eyes glossy over a fragile smile. "We'll be thinking of you."

"All is right with the world, so long as your spirit lives on," said the decorated guard pony beside Twilight's parents.

I gazed at him curiously, then at the other ponies staring at me as I trotted slowly through the middle of the village. So many eyes were locked on me. Months ago, the attention would have been delicious, but now...

"Everypony just chillax and keep on with your awesome lives," I eventually managed. I tried to smile; it was just as easy a task as keeping my voice from cracking. "The Princesses are giving their all to keep this place up and running. Don't forget to thank them, and don't forget to—"

I fell into a deep hug. Rediscovering my lungs, I felt Cheerilee nuzzling me dearly. She leaned back, her face moist as she cracked a loving smile. "Thank you, Rainbow Dash. You and only you..."

I fidgeted. Everything was so close to crumbling. I couldn't allow myself to shatter along with it. "I haven't... I haven't done anything, not yet, at least." With a deep breath, I began, "I just need to catch a heavy wind and—"

"We know, Rainbow Dash," Cheerilee said as she trotted back and nodded. "And we understand. That's why we put something together."

I raised an eyebrow. "Who's we?" I heard a soft trotting of hooves. I glanced down and wished I hadn't.

Over a dozen little foals had approached the scene. At the front of the group was none other than Apple Bloom. She gripped a book with green binding in her teeth before setting it down and pushing it across the grass with a trembling hoof.

"We know that yer goin' far, far away, Rainbow Dash. So we all put our bits and minds together and came up with this little scrapbook. T'ain't much, but we think it will help you feel like yer back home, no matter where you might be."

I narrowed my eyes. I pulled the book towards me. I opened it limply. My eyes registered a blur of photographs, full of bright colors and horrifically familiar faces. Uncontrollably, I slapped the book shut with a wincing expression. I sensed the foals stirring, so I gazed their way with a forced smile.

"That's... that's really, really nice of you dudes." I steeled myself with a deep breath. "Thanks. I mean it. I'll keep this thing with me as long as I can."

Apple Bloom smiled. Soon, that smile melted as her eyes fluttered shut with tears streaming loose.

My lips parted. With a shudder, I trotted over the book and scooped her up in a hug. Apple Bloom literally fell into me, clinging hard, drowning her tears in my blue chest. There were no words, only tender seconds dripping away as I caressed her mane and let her release in my forelimbs.

Eventually, between the sputtering breaths, the little filly stammered, "I m-miss her, Rainbow Dash. I know it ain't fair to all the others, but I miss h-her somethin' awful."

I gulped and stroked her shoulders. "I do too, Apple Bloom."

"There were so m-many things I wanted to say, so many th-things I wanted to share..."

"You're not nearly as alone as you think, girl," I said. I looked up. "You've got ponies here who care about you. You've got..." My voice gave out.

Granny Smith and Big Macintosh stood a few feet away, their eyes thin and their heads bowed.

I bit my lip. A soreness filled my throat. I patted Apple Bloom's back and parted our hug so that I could smile at her. "You've got your sister's spirit in you. You know that?"

She wiped her eyes with a trembling hoof and murmured, "I do?"

"Heck yeah!" I smirked devilishly. "I'm willing to bet that in ten... fifteen years, everypony will be looking up to you just as they did... j-just as they did to AJ."

"You really th-think so?"

"I know so." I straightened the bow in her mane and added, "And, right now, there's a pony who could really, really use your strength."

Apple Bloom's amber eyes blinked innocently at me.

I pointed across the village. "Sweetie Belle. She... she could really use a shoulder to lean on right now. I think she'd be able to help you as well, but she needs a guiding hoof. Think you can be a big pony and help out your friend?"

Apple Bloom bit her lip, but ultimately nodded with a teary smile. "Who am I to let down the Element of Loyalty?"

"I don't think you're capable of letting down anything, Apple Bloom," I said. We both stood up, and I watched as she trotted quietly over to Sweetie Belle's side. The two ponies nuzzled, eventually sharing a tender embrace as Sweetie Belle's parents looked on.

All the while, I had grasped the book and slid it into my saddlebag. As I clasped the satchel shut, I froze. Trembling, I turned around and gazed to the side.

Granny Smith and Big Mac gazed back.

With a jerk, I avoided their gaze, staring at the grass. I took several deep breaths, each one reinforcing the tilt of my head as I pivoted back to courageously take in their sorrowful expressions yet again.

It was important that I remained strong. I should have just taken off and flown east without saying a word, like I suggested to Luna. I wanted to leave that place, that grayness, that nightmare without giving so much as a breath.

Then and there, before the two farmers, I failed.

"I'm..." I stammered. My face burned from the first of several tears squeezing out of my eyes. "I'm sorry..." I sniffed as my voice cracked, "I'm just so... so sorry..." My face grimaced as the world grew foggy. "If I had only... if I-I had just..."

At first, I thought I was being tackled. The gasp that came out of me was weak and foalish, but soon I felt their strong forelimbs around me, and I melted into their grace. I buried my face into Big Mac's shoulder while Granny Smith stroked my neck. I whimpered, sobbed, bawled like an infant. There was no chance that the whole of Ponyville didn't see me caving in.

They didn't speak a word of it.

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