Chapter (e^2+∛30): Where do I go from here?
“We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast for an important message...”
One whole week. A week of rehab, recovery, and lots of explanations. Mostly rehab. Good news, though. Since the raiders got wiped out, I’d decided to permanently take up residence in Happy Hills. I didn’t really care about going back to the Enclave at this point since I’d been irreversibly ‘contaminated’ by the wasteland. I wouldn’t be able to get back into the Enclave, nevermind being able to rejoin active service.
Life returned to normal, or as normal as the wasteland would allow me to. Since I’d sufficiently proven myself to not be a menace to society, I was an official citizen in the eyes of the mayor. That also gave me the responsibilities of a citizen. Mostly cleaning, weapon maintenance, and sweltering in Underhill for scrap metal.
My little deal with the Steel Rangers was working out in the long run so far. No raiding party in their right mind would even dare poke the town’s steel reinforced walls with a stick. And since raiders didn’t live a stone’s throw away, trade started trickling in from neighboring towns and settlements.
“Hey. Yoohoo!” Somepony waved a rag in front of me. “Anypony home in there?” I snapped back into focus, dropping my auto-saw heavily onto the ground with a grunt.
“Wuh?” I shook my head hard to dislodge the cobwebs. The mental kind, and the real kind. “I’m here.” Note to self, double shifts suck. *Duly noted.* Shut up, brain. “What did you need?” I asked, turning to Trouble.
“Careful with that.” She giggled. “It costs four hundred caps to operate for like, twelve seconds. I don’t even know how much it costs to repair that thing. Whatcha thinkin’ about?”
I sighed, shifting in place. “Ugh, I don’t know. Stuff, I guess.” My scrap bags were digging into my back in a really uncomfortable manner, and something sharp was poking me every time I moved. “You ever wonder why we’re here?”
“Endlessly dig in these tunnels and construct monstrosities to our own vanity?” She suggested. “Wanna talk about it?”
“Not really.” I replied. A filing cabinet was quickly reduced to a pile of metal rods and sheets by my auto-saw. I spat out the bit and carefully collected up the bits of filing cabinet on the floor.
“Aww come on.” Trouble pouted. “We haven’t talked in like, forever!”
I weakly smiled at her. “I’ve been busy.” Came my simple reply. “Things to do, sanity to lose and whatnot.” Even after Instant’s help, my other personalities refused to leave. Whether it was a good thing or not was still undecided. A familiar hallway caught my attention, specifically the one that led down into R&D. Back where everything pretty much started. “Can you turn my stuff in? I want to check something out, for curiosity’s sake.”
Trouble groaned. “Fine.” I gratefully shrugged off the scrap bags and adjusted my saddlebag. “You owe me one.” She grabbed the bag in her teeth with a snort and backed out down the hallway toward the hub. “La’er.”
I distractedly waved her goodbye. After nearly a month, I still had no idea what I had promised the Rangers. Since they were still here, that meant there was something they weren’t willing to let go of easily.
Using the navigation function on my PipBuck, I followed the winding corridors and rooms all the way into the reactor chamber. Since the town had so much spare metal, they covered up the super-radioactive reactor crater with steel plating. The rest of the room was still mildly radioactive, giving me about two rads per second.
The large blast door that Rumcake and Baked were standing in front of nearly a month ago was still sealed. A brand new terminal was bolted to the wall where a door switch would have been. So there was something behind that door they wanted to keep safe, eh? “Alright, brain. Let’s see how much we were paying attention in tech class...”
Even with the assistance of the PipBuck’s built-in hacking tool, I struggled to even figure out how to force my way through the terminal’s security. Good thing nopony was guarding it, or else I would have a lot of explaining to do. Thanks to the suggestions I was getting from myself to back out of the terminal, I wasn’t getting locked out.
Apparently I didn’t really pay attention in tech class. I ran through fifteen attempts at the terminal, but I managed to get the password. It was ‘cheese’. The door creaked open, splitting in half lengthwise to reveal...a tiny little door behind it. Or at least what used to be a doorway. The last pony to open the door didn’t appreciate the architect’s humor and removed a few feet of concrete on either side with an explosive weapon.
“Die, zebra scum!” A robotic voice yelled the second I stepped into the room. Several ceiling-mounted turrets spun in their mounts to point at me. Good thing I skipped breakfast, or it might have exited my bowels right then and there. I screamed like a little filly as the turrets were about to open fire. Which they never did. Because they had no bullets. However, I continued screaming as the turrets menacingly clicked at me. The voice laughed hysterically. “Oh, that will never get old! If I had a body, I’d be peeing myself right now!”
I slammed my mouth shut and glared at a speaker high on the wall. “The buck was that for?” I screamed, throwing a bottle at it.
“You don’t live two hundred fifty years without a sense of humor.” The voice said. “Down here.” I looked down at a large supercomputer with a large dusty jar sitting on top of it. “Yes, I am a computer. Problem?”
I trotted up to the computer and sat down in front of its medium-sized display. “So...what the buck are you, then?”
“Call me the Tinker-Tank.” It smugly replied. “And you are much prettier than those outdated war machines and their cultists, I might add.” Well, the Rangers had been here after all. “Welcome to my private chamber of mostly-but-not-quite solitude.”
“Well, thank you.” I replied, taken aback. “What...are you, again?”
“I’m a brain in a jar.” I looked at the large dusty jar where I could barely make out a brain-shaped blob. “And might I say you look positively fetching with that mechanical hoof.”
“It’s a claw, but thanks.” I corrected him. “So Tinker-Tank, what do you do? Or actually, what did you do?” There had to be a reason why Seapony Energy had a supercomputer down here. Brain machine. Whatever.
The machine stopped in thought for a moment, processors whirring. “Well, the maniacs in charge don’t own me anymore, so it doesn’t really matter.” Tinker-Tank decided. “Apparently somepony at Seapony Energy thought that the Ministry of Arcano-Science shouldn’t be the only one with a ‘Think Tank’ project.”
“A what.” I deadpanned at it.
“Basically, I’m a brain hooked up to some computers and manufacturing equipment.” Tinker-Tank replied. “Since the bombs fell, I’ve created a separate machine to power myself without a power grid.” A tiny light over a blast-marred door flickered to life. “Go ahead and check it out.”
“And why would I go in there?” I asked, doubting the Tinker-Tank. “Better question, why would you even let me in?”
“Mostly because you’re pretty.” It replied immediately. “Go on, it’s fine. I’ve unlocked the door for you. Wait.” There was a metallic scraping from the other side of the door. “Okay, now it’s unlocked. Watch the ceiling. My cameras back there can’t see anything because the lights went out a long time ago.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” I muttered, cautiously opening the door. My claw tapped the ground with a metallic click, which I ignored. My hoof hit the ground with a loud metallic clank. Uh oh. “What th-”
A domed energy field suddenly materialized around me, trapping me on the edge of a peculiar disc-shaped device. “Sorry love, but I’ve wanted to test the Transportalponder on somepony for the longest time!” The Transportalponder whirred and heated up under my hooves. “No hard feelings?”
I spread my wings and floated off of the dangerously hot surface of the Transportalponder, which lurched into a ear-splitting whine. “If I ever find you I’m going to bucking rip your head off and shove it down your ass!” I screamed in rage. *He doesn’t have a phy-* I KNOW BRAIN SHUT UP. Somewhere during that internal argument, everything disappeared in a flash of light and magic.
Footnote: Loading new chunks...Placing dirt in the rocks...Deploying smooth jazz....Done.
-End of Chapter (e^2+∛30)!-
Remember, this section isn’t canon to the main story. It’s simply a device for the rest of you to drop Frosty into your stories. Otherwise, it’ll annoy the heck out of me if she just arrives in a totally random and unexplained manner. Also, give me a heads up if you do plan to write Frosty in so that I can provide insight to her personality and whatnot.
If anypony out there knows how to rearrange chapters, that would be wonderful. Thanks for all the views, likes, favorites, and +watches! I really appreciate it! Chapter 12 is on its way soon!
I’d like to thank the people I conscripted (Bioweapon, Lampmonkey, JLwafflezman, Broadestpeak, Nightmare) to edit this for me, and took the time to edit my terrible spelling and grammar skills! Shoutout to CDRW for plot hole patching! Also, I’m open to suggestions. Thanks to Toaster Repairpony for the cover!