Starspot woke up in a cold sweat, bolting out of bed and onto all four legs. She panted, relaxing her muscles as she calmed herself. She shook her head lightly, trying to convince herself it was just a dream. The pony sighed, shivering a bit. She focused her horn’s magic onto the nightstand, pulling out a small nine millimeter pistol and a few magazines of ammunition. She placed the ammunition into her belt, looking over each detail of the handgun, making sure that each nook and cranny of the intricately designed weapon was as flawless as the day she had bought it. The world wasn’t like it used to be, and she had to be prepared. It had been almost two months since the experiments had backfired catastrophically. Starspot had often found herself wondering how exactly an attempt to create a parasprite repellent had gone so horribly awry.
She checked every spot of the abandoned house to make sure that she hadn’t missed any supplies. She found a few bottles of painkillers in the medicine cabinet, and a few bandages, but not much else. She cursed quietly under her breath. She had wished she could get a better weapon at the very least, since all the stores in town had been looted. She looked out of the boarded up window, slivers of sunlight coming through. She went down the stairs, carefully prying off the boards on the door as quietly as she could. She opened the door a tiny bit, peering through the crack. The street seemed empty and desolate. She swung the door open, pistol at the ready.
Starspot sighed with relief as she looked around and saw nothing. She cautiously walked out of the house, looking in all directions around her. She took in a sharp breath as she saw one of them. A pony with greyed skin, visible through a horribly matted coat, and a mane that appeared to be torn off in places. The pony had many visible injuries to it’s forelegs, mostly bites and scratches, but in a few places it seemed the skin had just given up all hope of clinging to its host and was hanging loosely by a few strands of muscle fiber. The most frightening part of this pony was its eyes. Neither eye had a pupil, and one eye was bulging slightly out of the socket. The pony was bent over the carcass of another, this one seemingly long dead, as it was mostly bones. Starspot shuddered a bit, taking aim at the zombie pony’s head. She fired off a shot, the silencer muffling the sound. The shot went straight through the zombie pony’s head, creating a small, clean hole in the front and back. The pony dropped instantly. She shuddered.
Starspot had grown pretty used to this new Equestria, but shooting a fellow pony was something that she didn’t want to get used to. She looked around once again for any signs of the living dead. Spotting no signs of life, (or lack thereof,) she began walking down the town’s main street, looking for any signs of where she was. She looked up at a road sign a few feet in front of her.
WELCOME TO FILLYDELPHIA!
Where the ponies are friendly and the streets are safe!
Starspot snorted a bit. “Safe my ass.”
“Don’t move, little missy.” A gruff voice called from over her shoulder. A shot rang out and Starspot immediately hit the floor. She heard a splat as a zombie pony’s head exploded just past her.
She stood up shakily, looking around to see if any other zombie ponies had been alerted by the loud shot of her savior’s hunting rifle. “Th-thank you.” She said somewhat quietly, realizing just how close she had come to death.
“Y’all shouldn’t be out here alone.” The gruff voice said sternly.
“Then who are you with?” Starspot asked smartly. She looked over to the mystery stallion. He seemed to be quite a bit older than her, possibly in his forties or fifties. He had a dark brown mane cut short, causing him to look like a soldier. His coat was a light grey color, although Starspot suspected that he was mostly covered in dust. And she was right. A few patches of the pony's true, light chestnut coat showed through a few places dirt had yet to touch. He was an earth pony, using a rifle modified to be fired by the mouth. He currently looked to be quite irritated with her.
“No one, smart-ass.” He said. “I was with my friend until he got bit and I had to shoot him in the head.”
Starspot fell silent. She had always been a loner, and had never had any friends to shoot, so she couldn't even imagine what that had to be like. “I-I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
“O’ course you didn’t.” He sighed a bit. “Name’s Conrad, but if y’all like, you can call me Con.”
“Oh.” Starspot said, surprised he didn’t shoot her for her earlier remark. “I’m Starspot.”
“Pleased to meet ya’, little miss, but I’m afraid we’ll have to cut this meetin’ short, ‘fore we get too many visitors smellin’ the blood.” Conrad told her, signalling with his head a house that they could go into.
The two ponies walked into the house with their weapons drawn, searching each room. “Looks like we’re all clear.” Conrad said after looking into the last room. “At least, unless one o’ them zombie bastards gets through the door.”
“Leave that to me.” Starspot smiled a bit, pulling a bit of wood from her pack she was carrying, using her magic to bind it to the doorframe.
“That’s some plum useful magic you got there.” Conrad nodded knowledgeably.
“Well, magic is my special talent. It runs in my family, I guess.” Starspot shrugged. “It has ever since my great grandma Twilight.”
Conrad’s ears perked up. “Twilight Sparkle?”
“Yup. Why, you heard of her?”
“Heard of her? My granny used to tell me stories about the pony that defeated the Ursa Minor.” Conrad smiled with the memories of simpler times. Times when undead ponies weren’t threatening every waking moment.
“Your granny knew my great grandmother?” Starspot blinked.
“I reckon so. Granny Applejack would always tell stories about their group of friends.” Conrad shrugged. “Suppose it was pretty lucky we found each other.”
“So, you got any plans for where to go?” Starspot asked.
“Well, out of this hellhole, for one. After that, I was thinkin’ maybe I’d head to Ponyville, it’s supposed to be the last stronghold other than the castle in Canterlot, but I doubt we’d get into the castle.”
“Okay, mind if I tag along? It is dangerous to be out alone, after all.” Starspot said a bit jokingly.
“Alright, but it’s too late in the day to get going now. We have to rest up, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover and not a lot of time to do it.” Conrad frowned a bit. “We’ll have to make it there by nightfall, it’s too dangerous to be out at night.”
“Well, duh.” Starspot rolled her eyes.
Conrad growled a bit at her. “Y’all best take this seriously. I have no problem leavin’ you fer dead.”
“Well excuuuuse me.” Starspot muttered. “Just trying to have a little fun.”
“Ain’t nothin’ fun ‘bout the apocalypse, missy.” Conrad said gruffly. “Now you go look around the second floor for supplies, I’m gonna’ check if the water is drinkable.”
Starspot nodded, walking up the steps and looking in every spot in the house. She cursed quietly, finding almost no usable supplies. She picked up a poster off the ground.
SEE THE WONDERBOLTS!
Watch the amazing antics of the Wonderbolts at Fillydelphia Stadium on the first day of spring at ten A.M.!
Starspot smiled a bit, thinking back to the first day of spring. The air was warm and clear, dew glistening on the grass, and the undead hadn’t spread past Manehattan yet... Starspot put the poster in her bag, sighing a bit. She went down the stairs, instantly smelling something wonderful. She followed the scent to the kitchen, where she found Conrad looking over a pot with what seemed like broccoli floating in it.
“Find anything?” Conrad asked her.
“Nothing much.” She sighed. “Just a few bandages.”
“That’s still somethin’.” Conrad said. “More than I had on me to start.”
Starspot looked at him strangely. “You came that unprepared?”
“All my supplies got left behind when I left Manehattan.” Conrad said.
“Wait, Manehattan? You mean the place where this all started? You were there when the tests went wrong?”
“Tests? What have they been telling you?” Conrad leaned in closer to listen.
“We were told that a company was making a repellent for parasprites and that it was a breakthrough for farmers.” She told him.
Conrad scoffed, laughing audibly. “A parasprite repellent? That’s what they told you?” He laughed even harder. “Naw. That company was doin’ some pretty interestin’ stuff, but nothing that useful. At least, until they started studyin’ Princess Celestia.”
“The Princess?” Starspot blinked. “What were they studying her for?”
“Immortality.” Conrad said simply. “Princess Celestia is thousands of years old, and she looks like a regular ol’ mare... well, a regular ol' magical alicorn with a magical mane, but regular enough, I suppose. She loves the ponies of Equestria, so she jumped at the chance to help them. Those foals. Surely they should have realized that more study was needed.” He put his head in his hooves, sighing. “Rumor has it that they actually got it to work a few times before this zombie hell was unleashed.” Conrad looked at the ground. “Damn unlucky for those ponies, having to live forever as the last on earth.”
“Well, for a bit... until ponies start to... you know... repopulate.” Starspot said, then thought about what she had said. She quickly recovered. “But we need to find these ponies. They probably know more about the zombies than anyone.”
Conrad nodded a bit. “But they’re probably in the castle, which we’ll never get in.”
Conrad turned off the stove, pulling the pot full of broccoli off. He set it between the two. “Eat up, we’ll need our strength tomorrow.” He told her, picking out a few pieces and handing them to her.
“Thanks, Con.” Starspot smiled at him gratefully. Con nodded his head in recognition.
A loud thud from upstairs caused both of them to freeze in place, food still in their mouths. “You did remember to check behind the curtains in the shower upstairs, didn’t you?” Conrad hissed quietly.
“Ummmm....... shit.” Starspot turned her head to the stairs. She levitated her pistol from her bag as quietly as she could. She motioned to Conrad that she’d check it out. She slowly and silently walked up the stairs, using the small amount of light from her horn to guide her. She quietly opened the door to the bathroom, prepared for the worst. She looked around the room, seeing nothing. She pulled back the curtains of the shower and saw a horrifying sight. A pony that had been dead for quite a long time lay in the tub. The tub had some water in it, and the pony’s body had absorbed it, swelling to ridiculous proportions. It took Starspot a few moments to discern the source of the noise they had heard. Apparently the pony’s skin had been stretched to the limit, and just like a balloon with too much air, it had ruptured. The pony’s entrails lay next to it, floating around in the deep red water. The stomach of the pony was outside the body, but still attached to the inside, and it too had burst, revealing that this pony’s last meal had consisted of mostly carrots. Starspot grimaced at the awful scene, gagging. She shut her eyes tight for a few minutes, trying to stay standing on all four legs without passing out from the sickness of it all. Starspot quickly put a bullet through the head of the dead pony, figuring the apocalypse was no time to be stingy with bullets. After the shot, Starspot immediately wished she hadn’t chose to be safe. The shot broke the porcelain tub, bloody water rushing out. The pony’s bits of gore that were no longer attached to it floated past Starspot’s legs. The pony’s small intestine flowed towards her front left hoof, wrapping itself around. Starspot shook it off, shrieking as she ran down the stairs, running for the nearest trash receptacle and losing any of the broccoli she’d already eaten.
“Not pretty, eh?” Conrad asked.
Starspot shook her head, although with how much the rest of her body was shivering, it was most likely difficult to tell. She violently expelled what was left of her stomach contents, wiping her mouth with a hoof. “Why couldn’t a puppy outbreak have been the apocalypse?” She groaned.
Conrad chuckled a bit. “I trust ya’ took care of it?”
Starspot nodded slightly. She tried as hard as she could to not think of what she had just seen.
“You’ll get used to those kinds of sights soon enough. I don’t think there’s a thing in this world that disturbs ol’ Conrad now. Why don’t y’all get some shuteye? I’ll keep watch tonight.” Conrad said. “I think y’all have watched enough tonight.”
Starspot nodded, walking slowly and shakily to the couch that was set up. She collapsed onto it, sighing a bit, relieved that she’d be able to sleep and get her mind off the events she’d just witnessed. She closed her eyes, desperately trying to focus on something else. She thought back to before her whole world got turned around, back when she was just a filly. She had lived in Ponyville until she’d had to move to Canterlot for her parents to more closely work with Princess Celestia. She really had loved living in Ponyville, mostly because it was a smaller community and everypony knew one another. She wondered how much it had changed from what she remembered. She prayed it hadn’t been hit hard, she didn’t know if she could take shooting her childhood friends... At least she had a companion now who could help her if she was unable to bring herself to shoot them. She nestled her mind in a happy memory of playing with her great grandma’s former assistant, Spike. Spike was the only kind fully-grown dragon that she had met. Starspot smiled as she drifted off slowly.
Starspot blinked her eyes open, yawning. She stretched out on the couch.
“Mornin’” Conrad murmered.
“Morning.” Starspot yawned once more. She stood up, cracking her various sore joints. She walked to the downstairs bathroom, splashing her face with water. She looked in the mirror at herself, almost not recognizing herself. Her dark purple mane was tangled and unkempt. She sighed, knowing she may never get the matted mane to lie right again. Her light brown eyes were severely bloodshot and she looked like she’d been drinking too much the night before. Her light purple coat was caked with blood in a few places. Her parents had always told her that she was the spitting image of Twilight Sparkle. Starspot wondered if they would have still thought that if they had seen her now. She found it hard to imagine that Twilight Sparkle had ever been covered in blood with bags full of pistol ammunition and medical supplies strapped to her back. She looked at her flank, frowning. Her cutie mark was obscured by blood. She splashed some water on it, cleaning the spot off. She was very proud to be bearing the same crest as the great Twilight Sparkle had many years ago, albeit with a different color scheme. Hers was a light blue, compared to her grandmother's purple. She stretched, walking out of the bathroom.
“Alright Con, you can get to sleep now and I’ll keep watch.” Starspot said.
“Alright.” Conrad said. “Be careful, though. We don’t want a repeat of the bathroom.”
Starspot looked to the ground, a bit embarrassed. “Sorry about that.”
“Don’t worry ‘bout it none.” Conrad stretched out on the couch.
Starspot snuck a peek at his flank, curious about his cutie mark. She stifled a gasp as she saw it, or to be more precise, didn’t. She looked at the ground again, this time in contemplation rather than embarrassment. Conrad soon began snoring.
How could a pony of that age not have a cutie mark? Starspot wondered. I’ve never even heard of something like that. She frowned, thinking back to when she got her cutie mark.
Nineteen Years Prior
Starspot was just a little filly, only about nine years old, but she had learned to do quite a bit of magic thanks to her grandmother's teachings. She was to present herself to Princess Celestia so that she could see if she'd be accepted into her elite magic school. She passed every test that was thrown at her until the dragon egg test. She looked at the egg and concentrated, learning all of its curves and flaws. The egg was perfect, and had a small life in the center, just waiting to burst into the world with the help of a little magic. Starspot wrapped her magic around the egg inside and out when she noticed something about the dragon inside. It was only about a year old, far younger than the age when dragons are supposed to be hatched. She felt uneasy about hatching a dragon prematurely and possibly having it die. She let her magic recede back into her horn, turning to the princess.
"I apologize, Princess." Starspot bowed to her. "But I refuse to hatch this dragon egg. If I hatched it now, the dragon would die. I've read multiple books on the subject. I will return to do this test once the dragon has reached an age when it would be safe to hatch it. I ask your forgiveness for this blunder."
Princess Celestia laughed a bit. "Very formal." She placed a hoof on Starspot's shoulder. "You have just passed my test. You see, the thing about magic is that it is sometimes necessary to avoid using it if it means helping others. You remind me so much of your grandmother..." Celestia teared up a bit. "I shall assign you to the same place where it was that Twilight learned the most."
"The library in Canterlot?" Starspot asked.
"No. Ponyville." The princess smiled at her. "And one more thing."
"There's more?!" Starspot groaned a bit. "I didn't know about extra credit. I didn't study."
"Not that." Celestia pointed to Starspot's flank. "That." There, on Starspot's haunch, was a gorgeous cutie mark. It was a light blue six pointed star with stars accenting the outside. For the first time in her life, Starspot felt like an adult.
It had to have been the happiest day of her life, but to never get that... She shuddered at the thought.
The night had passed by boringly, with Starspot not even having to worry about zombies with her boarding up trick. Conrad woke up just after sunrise. “Howdy, missy.” He yawned.
“Hey Con.” Starspot smiled at the stallion.
Conrad grunted in acknowledgement. He stretched out.
“I packed our bags with all the supplies I could find.” Starspot smiled at him.
“‘Kay.” He said sleepily.
Starspot rolled her eyes. “That means get your ass up.”
Conrad grunted, rolling off the couch and landing on all fours. He stretched out. “Alright, let’s get going.”
“Sure, let’s get going.” Starspot said.
“I just said that.” Conrad blinked.
“I know.” Starspot smiled at him. “That’s why I said it.”
Conrad shook his head. “I’ll never get mares.”
Starspot laughed, pulling the planks off of the door and placing them in her bag. She pulled her pistol out and double-checked to make sure that it was fully loaded and pristine. She slowly opened the door, peeking out. She assessed the situation, turning to Conrad. “Four of them down the street, want to run for it or take them out?”
“I say run.” Conrad said. “My weapon’s too loud and yours just ain’t all that accurate at long range.”
Starspot nodded, slowly opening the door and running in the direction opposite the zombies. She looked behind her to make sure that Conrad was keeping pace. He was running alongside her with seemingly little effort. “Not bad for an old man.” She laughed.
“I ain’t old, my body just don’t know that.” Conrad laughed right back.
The two new friends ran down the street, laughing with each other. Something ahead stopped them in their tracks, however. The road ahead was covered with zombie pony bodies strewn about listlessly. At least, Starspot hoped they were zombie ponies.They silently stared down the road.
“Think we should take a different route?” Starspot said.
“Nah.” Conrad shook his head. “Worst we’ll find this way seems to be more survivors, and maybe some teammates that can help us get to Ponyville.”
Starspot looked at him skeptically. “Or they’re trigger happy military jackasses ordered to shoot whatever moves.”
“Only one way to find out, isn’t there?” Conrad smiled, running ahead.
“Dammit!” Starspot cursed. She ran after him. “I swear to Celestia if you get killed I’m not going to be responsible!”
Conrad skidded to a halt in front of her, causing the two ponies to collide.
“Ow, what the hell, Con?” Starspot rubbed her sore horn. “I nearly stabbed you with....” She stopped as she saw what it was that Conrad had stopped for. A bright pink pony with an unusually straight pink mane and a gigantic smile sat in the middle of the road, surrounded by carnage, staring directly at Starspot and Conrad.
“Hi.” She grinned at them. “I’m Pinkie Pie.”
For those of you that stuck with it, I thank you, and I assure you that more will be released if there isn’t a mass exodus of hate, and even then, I didn’t do all this work for nothing! I would like to extend a hoof of gratitude to my prereaders and proofreaders that made all this the best it could be.
Special Thanks to:
All the bronies and pegasisters out there that inspired me to write this!