Escape from Ponyville
The small group were forced to abandon the idea of stealth just so they could put some distance between them virus carriers that gave chase. It was shocking how fast they were, but luckily they didn't seem too bright. They managed to lose one of them when they ducked into a nearby alleyway. The rest were left in the lurch when the group rounded corner. Applejack pulled Twilight and Apple Bloom hard to the left, ducking into a darkened doorway. Braeburn and Big Mac filed in behind them filling the doorway, working like a shield protecting the other three.
Apple Bloom covered her mouth to quiet her breathing, while Twilight bit down on the sleeve of her jacket, her other hand still clutched Applejack's. Suddenly the confines grew even tighter, she could feel the warm denim of Big Mac's vest pressing against her as he backed further into the darkness of the doorway.
Three of the virus carriers slowed their pacing, choking gasps of raspy air. One of them sniffed the air as if it were tracking them, but couldn't seem to pinpoint where their scent was coming from. It craned it's head all the way back letting out an ear shattering screech. Apple Bloom whimpered and buried her face into Twilight's stomach. She could even feel Big Mac trembling against the ear drum rupturing sound.
Then the three infected went silent again, there gaze found something in the darkness somewhere down the alley. Twilight could hear ponies shuffling around, their hushed voices echoed between the building. Their voiced stopped, they must have see the virus carries in front of them. Then they were yelling for one another to run, but it was no good the carriers were on them in seconds. Applejack lurched forward to intervene, but Braeburn pushed her back against the wall, using his body to pin her in place. Twilight could hear him whispering to her. “Easy girl, there's nothing we can do to help them, now.”
“We can't just let them get infected, can we?” She whispered, a tremble in her voice. Tears welling up in her eyes.
“We don't have much of a choice, Cuz. We can't endanger Apple Bloom any more than we already have.” Braeburn kept his voice soft and soothing, Twilight knew that he was trying to sway her with rationality.
“But...” Applejack started to say, another four screeching infected blew past the opening in a blur. The sound had been so sudden that Big Mac jumped back squashing Twilight against the wall.
Applejack was panting hard as the realization washed over her. Twilight sighed heavily, if they would have gotten involved right then, they would have been in the same predicament. Big Mac poked his head out of the doorway, before beckoning all of them to follow him. They made their way back down the alley the way they'd come from, before rounding the corner and hurrying back the way they needed to go.
Applejack stayed close to Twilight, leading the rest of the group. It had been slow going since they were moving in a tight crouched fashion, winding their way through the alleyways. They would move from one hiding place to another. Usually it was Applejack and Twilight who were the first to move, then the other three would follow once they signaled it was safe.
They finally made it safely to the Quills and Sofas. Applejack leaned against the wall taking a break. Braeburn and Big Mac offered to scout ahead to make sure the way to the bowling alley was clear. Applejack was hesitant to split the group again, but Big Mac's insisting forced her to give up. Applejack sat down in the dirt leaning against the wall. One hand found Apple Boom's pulling her into a hug. Twilight was glad that Applejack conceded to Big Mac on the scouting, her legs were cramping and she welcomed the idea of a brief rest.
The three of them huddled together against the wall of the furniture store. Everything remained quiet and calm since their run in with the virus carriers earlier. Applejack face held a grim look, Twilight could tell that she was lamenting not making more of an effort to rescue the other survivors. When Applejack caught Twilight staring, she would just smile and uneasy smile. Twilight knew she was struggling and did the only thing she could, she took her hand rubbing her thumb along the tendons at the back of her hand. “You alright?” Twilight was already well aware of what her answer would be, but the real motive was too open the line of communication between them, to see if her friend was still doing fine emotionally and mentally.
“I'm fine, Sugar Cube, just got these things on my mind.” Applejack pulled her hat down over her eyes, pulling Apple Bloom close to her chest. The little filly squirmed wrapping her arms tighter around her big sister's neck.
Ten minutes passed before the boys returned from their scouting run. “Everything looks pretty good between here and there. It was too dark to see into the alleyway beside the bowling alley, but I'm pretty sure there ain't nothing to worry about.” Big Mac reported, Apple Bloom pulled away from her big sis, throwing herself into Big Mac's arms.
“Not to mention I was lucky enough to find this bad boy.” Braeburn beamed triumphantl, holding up a metal, long handled flashlight. “I don't know who was foolish enough to drop it, but I reckon it's going to come in real handy when we get into them deep dark woods.”
Applejack got up from the ground, pulling Twilight up with her. “So how are we gonna play this. Should we just run there as fast as we can, or keep sneaking around.”
“It's pretty clear, we could probably run there without any trouble.” Braeburn offered his two cents, Big Mac was already shaking his head.
“That may be true, Cuz, but we still have to get everyone over the wall. Those things are pretty fast, they'd be on us in seconds.” There was sound reasoning behind his argument. Twilight could see that Applejack felt the same way.
“Alright then, it looks like we're sneaking.” She may have agreed with her older brother, but her tone revealed that she wasn't happy about it.
Again they were moving in their crouched fashion. Applejack set a brisk pace this time, not wanting to waste anymore time. Twilight could tell that she was tired of sneaking around and knew that if it wasn't for the greater good of keeping Apple Bloom safe, she wouldn't do it. They ducked between two smaller houses stopping at the corner of the one of the houses. Across the street lay the bowling alley and the mouth of the alleyway leading to their freedom.
This time Big Mac was the one to go first, his large frame streaked across the road disappearing into the shadows of the alleyway. Applejack quietly counted to thirty loud enough so the others could hear her. When she reached thirty, the four of them followed his example, crouch running across the road, ducking into the alley.
Once they made it to the other side, they could found what was taking Big Mac so long to signal them. There was a virus carrier laying flat out, unconscious in the alleyway. Big Mac was forced to knock him out. Twilight looked down at the infected immediately recognize him as a frequenter to the bowling alley, she'd seen him half a dozen times. It was hard to imagined that they, the virus carriers, were once citizens of Ponyville, friends that she'd known. It made her sad to think that in such a short time, she'd completely forgot that they were once someone, something more than just a mindless monsters.
“You alright, Sugar Cube?” It was Applejack's turn to inquire about how she was doing. Twilight didn't answer, she simply nodded and turned away from the unconscious virus carrier and walked to the back of the alleyway where Big Mac and Braeburn were waiting.
“Alright big fella, as you may have guessed it. You're gonna to be the one hefting everypony over the wall.” Applejack gave him a firm slap on the back.
Big Mac was already nodding, “Eyup.” It was a given that he would be the one doing the heavy lifting.
“Good, now I'm gonna get up on that wall so I can help lift them up on the wall, get ready because we're out of here?”
“Eyup.” Big Mac barked out again, making a cradle with his hands.
Applejack planted her foot in the cradle and was easily hefting up. Applejack pulled herself up straddling the wall. She laid out to give herself more stability.
Braeburn was the first to climb up, disappearing over the wall. Apple Bloom followed after. When it was Twilight's turn, she was a little nervous about climbing over, but Applejack's strong hands around hers, kept her steady as she was pulled up on top of the wall. Braeburn waited down below to catch her if she fell.
“Okay, Twilight, I'm gonna lower you down. Braeburn will make sure you don't fall, are you ready?” Twilight was amazed at the shear amount of strength in Applejack's arms as she lowered her int to Braeburn's waiting hands. He guided her down to the cool grass below.
Once outside the walls things didn't seem so bad. The wide open land helped ease the tension of being stuck in the cramped confines of Ponyville. Twilight could see the small river running along the outskirts of town, and beyond that just on the otherside of the field she could see the Everfree Forest. A shadow crawled across the line of trees caused by a cloud crossing the mood. There's hope, Twilight mused, things would go more smoothly now that they were out of the town.
Twilight sat down in the cool moist grass, not caring that her pants were getting soaked. Apple Bloom flopped down on the ground next to her. “Do ya think everything's gonna be alright, Twilight.” Her voice sounded so small now they were out of the village.
Twilight thought for a long moment. “Yeah,” The words didn't come out like she was trying to stretch the truth, or make a bad situation better. It came out as the truth. “As soon as we meet up with the others, things should get better.”
Twilight heard Applejack grunting, and turned to see her hoisting Big Mac up onto the wall. She grunted and growled through gritted teeth. “Damn boy, yer heavier than you look.”
Big Mac chuckled, swiveling his hip to sit atop the wall. “That was some mighty fine hefting, Applejack. You should join the amateur log tossing team.”
She shook her head so her braid bounced around around her shoulders. “Nah, bro. I'll leave the log tossing to you.” She gave his stomach a soft pat. Big Mac blushed and rubbed the back of his neck embarrassed.
Braeburn started cackling, forcing him to cover his mouth. “What's that mean?” Apple Bloom cocked her head looking up at Twilight.
“I can only imagine.” Twilight found her own cheeks flushing red.
The scene seemed so natural for the Apples. Twilight's heart skipped a beat at how beautiful the interaction was. It only help to solidify that hope that found it's way into her heart. This time Big Mac lowered Applejack into Braeburn's waiting arms, before dropping down next to them.
With the area being more clear, they could see any virus carriers coming from a distance. They all took a moment to join Twilight in a little sit down in the cool grass for a rest.