Magic. It’s an incredible force of pure emotion. Everypony has magic in them, albeit in different ways. Earth ponies, with their clever ingenuity and strong hooves, feel their magic more innately then the other races, even if they don’t always know it. Pegasi direct their magic in more direct ways, controlling the pattern of weather and clouds. Unicorns control the very primal force of magic itself, bending it to their will. Alicorns on the other hand, being a combination of all three races, feel magic in a very distinct way. Alicorns are truly aware of the primal life force of magic all around them, and can direct that force with mere thought.
Of course, the very use of magic led to science, and science led to industry. Industry led to war. The very things that made the three races special was what led those races into the future. Earth pony ingenuity created weapons and armor beyond anypony’s wildest dreams. Their contributions to the war led to the creation of some of the most amazing technology ever, including the PipBuck and the Stable. Pegasi honed the art of war in very different ways, putting their cloud technology to great use to create inventions that could only be used by pegasi or cloud-capable hooves. This was one of the very reasons that the pegasi were involved in stealth operations above the other races. Quite simply, the zebras could not physically touch their technology. Unicorns were responsible for one of the most important, and most deadly, inventions of the entire war: the megaspell. Originally designed for healing, the usage of such massive magic quickly became twisted for wartime purpose, until the very last day that Equestria ceased to be and the Wasteland took its place.
But even in the ashes of the worst day in Equestrian history, magic is still here. It still lives and breathes in everything. It gives us hope, that one day that magic may be used for more than just killing one’s brother or sister.
I reached out with my magic and picked the statuette up, smiling with delight. This is what I came here to find after all. As my magic brushed the figurine, I felt a jolt of energy transfer from the tiny thing to me, and instantly I felt like I could take on anything. Like I could do what the plaque told me I should do, which is to be unwavering. A tiny white unicorn in my mind told me I had completed my task here.
“What is it?” Violet asked, curiously.
“An old friend,” I replied. I stowed the figurine into my saddlebags as I caught Violet’s confused expression. “I had another dream, about Twilight and Rarity. I think this is what I was meant to find. Something about this seems right. I feel like I’m rescuing an old friend.” She nodded in response.
Rarity. I could remember everything about her now. The way she would always help her friends in need. How she always acted with such grace and civility. And while the fashionista turned government official often cared more about her own appearance, it was her true beauty on the inside that always shone through.
Another glint of light caught my eye. Next to where the figurine was stored was a small black orb with a swirling purple cloud inside of it. It was a memory orb, a device used for the storing and playback of a pony’s memories. The orb seemed to sparkle in the sun. I swept the orb into one of my saddlebags with a hoof, since I most definitely did not want to view it now, and touching said orb with my telekinesis would surely activate it. I looked up at Violet and smiled.
“Time to blow this pop stand,” I said with a grin. “If we’re lucky, we should make it to Tenpony Tower today. It’s not far from here.” I pushed open the door to Room 610 and stepped into the hallway. The hotel no longer seemed as dark and grim to me, now that I had my prize. We made our way down the dilapidated hallway back to the main staircase. As soon as I stepped through the door I could sense how wrong it was. A chittering noise filled my ears as I entered the stairwell.
“Shit!” I exclaimed, jumping back out of the way before the first of the bloodwings swooped down and nearly bit my head off. I slammed the door as fast as possible, just as one of the mutated creatures attempted to make it through. The door severed its leg, spraying blood all over me and the floor. The leg twitched on the floor as I stepped back from the door, which was now being pounded upon incessantly by the beasts behind it.
“They waited for us to get up here, they fucking waited!” I cried out angrily. Steeljack grimaced.
“We need to get a move on. Those things aren’t going to wait any longer. They’re gonna tear that door down to get to us,” he said, nudging Violet and me to follow him. We moved quickly and silently back down the hallway to the other stairwell. More pounding on that door indicated that we were officially trapped on this floor.
“Star, do you think you can teleport us down to ground level?” Steeljack asked, pointing at Room 610. I stared at him.
“What…?” I responded flatly.
“Teleport. Down there. Now?” Steeljack enunciated, pointing at us and then at the room. I nodded and followed them back into the room.
“I’m not sure if this is such a good idea… what if we end up in the ground or stuck in part of the hotel?” I said shakily.
“You can do this, I know you can. You did it before remember? The Ministry of Image office?” Steeljack said point-blank, reminding me of the ghouls. A crashing noise outside the room indicated that the giant bloodthirsty creatures coming to kill us had broken down at least one of the stairwell doors and were now making their way towards us. I shook my head and forced myself to focus, grabbing onto Violet and Steeljack to begin casting my teleport spell. The door began to crack as I realized I wasn’t going to have enough time to finish casting it before the bloodwings got into the room. Without thinking, I did the next best thing.
I grabbed both of my friends, wrapped some telekinesis around their legs, and leapt out of the balcony into the free air. Locking my wings in to gain speed, I could hear violent screaming in my ears as my companions were processing what was happening. Above me, the sky exploded into blackness as the bloodwing swarm burst out of the hotel room and into the open sky. The majority of the swarm was pushed back into the hotel however by the full light of the Sun, while several smaller swarms took refuge in the shadows of the buildings and began flying down towards me. I was dropping fast like a dead weight, intent on escaping the bloodthirsty swarms. Violet and Steeljack continued their screaming. I couldn’t really blame them. What else would you do if you were suddenly forced out a six story window on a violent collision course with the streets below?
“Hold on!” I yelled, the wind nearly carrying my voice away. Four stories. Three stories. Two. I had only one shot at this, or else we’d be bloody messes splattered all over the concrete. I was picking up speed like I was one of the Wonderbolts. I spread my wings out and attempted to pull out of the dive, my muscles screaming in agony at the insanity I was trying to perform. The ground inched closer and closer and then the unthinkable happened. I shot forward like a rocket, trying my best to keep hold on my passengers, who were coincidentally still screaming their heads off. I had a feeling their vocal chords were going to be shot full of holes later on, if we survived this craziness. My horn felt like it was going to explode from the prolonged telekinesis and my entire body felt like it would fail at any moment.
I groaned in complete and utter agony as I held my wings out, trying to slow my progress as I shot down the street. Slowly but surely my speed began to wane, and then it stopped completely… thanks to the giant pile of garbage that I apparently was not looking right at as we crashed into it. At the same time, I lost control of my telekinesis, throwing both Violet and Steeljack into the same pile. The stench of centuries old garbage assaulted my senses and reminded me that I was still alive. I pulled myself up out of the pile and looked up. We had managed to travel nearly an entire two blocks. The bloodwings were no longer following us. I sighed in relief as my wing joints burned like they were on fire.
“Violet? Steeljack?” I called out, looking for my companions. My calls were met by the angriest little unicorn I will possibly ever know. Violet jumped at me and began violently pounding at my chest.
“Don’t! You! EVER! Do! That! AGAIN!” she managed to spit out in between heavy breaths. I grabbed her and pulled her into a hug, which stopped her for a moment. I held her there for a moment and sighed.
“I’m glad you’re alright. Sorry I scared you,” I said after a short time. A rustling of the pile caught my attention as Steeljack pulled himself up and out of the pile. He looked a little worse for wear, but otherwise okay.
“You know I said teleport right?” he finally said after a few minutes of breathing heavy. I shrugged.
“No time,” I responded, as Violet pulled herself out of my embrace and we climbed down the pile of garbage. Then it hit me. Standing on a squishy pile of garbage isn’t exactly as hard as standing on solid ground soon became for me. As soon as I hit the street my knees wobbled and I fell face first into the concrete.
“Ow,” I said, groaning. Violet shook her head, and opened her saddlebags, pulling out a syringe of Med-X and a Healing Potion. She injected me with the syringe, which began working its incredibly amazing pain reducing magic before the lovely cough medicine taste of the healing potion touched my lips.
“There, that should help, considering we should probably get moving. I don’t want to be out here at night so close to that place with those… things,” she said, pointing at the hotel. I nodded weakly, pulling myself up so I could stand. My legs were still a little shaky, but at least I was capable of physical movement. That was saying something at least. Slowly we began trudging our way down the street, my PipBuck having marked Tenpony Tower for us on its automated mapping function.
To say that I felt pain was an understatement. Even with a fair dose of Med-X, my wings still felt like they were on fire. I grumbled to myself in pain as a familiar voice spoke up within me.
Well… that was interesting, Spark said. Oh good, I was beginning to think I’d gotten rid of you crazy voice!
What do you want now Spark? I asked the bodiless voice. She merely chuckled in response.
Oh nothing, I just felt like chiming in. Didn’t think you had that in you to save those two, not after what happened in the hotel, Spark replied.
I don’t want to talk about that. If that’s all you have to say, then I think we’re done, I thought back, performing the equivalent motion in my mind of ‘talk to the hoof cuz the ears ain’t listenin!’
Whoa there little filly, calm down. I’m on your side remember? Spark mused. I was merely commenting on how impressed I was by your skills in magic.
And I was merely telling you to shut the hell up and leave me alone, I responded angrily. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have business to attend to.
Spark didn’t respond after that. I had a strange feeling I’d probably hurt her feelings or something. Like a crazy voice in my head could have feelings. I mean, I was certifiable at this point. Having strange conversations with a voice in my head? Check! Strange dreams where I’m accosted by a two hundred year old emotion? Check! Found any answers whatsoever? Not check! That’s right, I still had to find out why this crazy was in me. And to do that, well I have one thing to say to that!
Tenpony Tower, ho!
Okay, so maybe not. As it turns out, the way into the front gate of Tenpony Tower was to walk the monorail lines to access the station inside of the Tower itself. Inelegant, but that was the rub of it. Heeding the earlier advice of Commander Brisk, and opting to not fly directly up to the station and scare the living daylights and possibly get shot at (plus my wings still felt like they were on fire and we were all still sore from jumping out of a six story window), we decided to hoof it to the closest settlement to spend the night. Of course, that settlement was Friendship City.
Friendship City was a unique place. It was situated within the “Statue of Friendship”, a pre-war gift from the zebras to promote peace and understanding, before we blew each other up to hell. The ponies of Friendship City made their home around and inside the massive statue, and were a city on the rise, working to better the lives of ponies everywhere. We arrived at the bridge over to the island, where several Applejack’s Rangers were stationed, guarding the settlement. They waved us on in, and a bright road sign with the words WELCOME TO FRIENDSHIP CITY met our eyes as we crossed into the settlement proper.
It was a strange feeling walking into the city. Unlike Mall, nopony seemed to mind here that I was an alicorn. In fact, many of the ponies we passed waved or said hello to us. It was like stepping into a different world, where the Wasteland wasn’t out there. In the distance across the bay we could see the imposing visage of Tenpony Tower, our intended destination, as well as the monorail line we needed to access the next day to get there. We made our way into the Statue and quickly located the local inn. A cream colored mare with cherries on her flank waited at the desk inside the inn, looking a little bored. She perked up a bit when we entered her establishment.
“Welcome to Friendship City!” she exclaimed happily. “I’m Cherry Cobbler, owner of this fine place of business. What can I help you with this evening?”
“We require lodging for the evening,” Violet said, taking charge. That mare, she always knew how to barter for service better than anypony I knew.
Cherry grinned ecstatically. “Of course my dear. I have several rooms open at the moment. Business is a little slow for the time being.”
“Why’s that?” I asked, wondering what she meant. Cherry looked away for a moment and then back to me.
“Oh, no reason. Just slow season is all. Happens from time to time. Perfectly normal!” the cream mare responded nervously. She chuckled a bit. I nodded in return.
“Right… well then… the rooms?” Violet interjected, holding the bag that contained our money. “How much for two rooms? Star and I can share a room.” Cherry returned to normal immediately at the sound of the caps in our bag jingling.
“Oh, right. Yes, two rooms should be fine. Since you’re our only customers at the moment, you get our special discount! How does twenty caps per room sound for the night?” she asked, still acting a little nervous. Violet nodded, and pulled out the right number of caps and floated them to her. The mare quietly thanked us and showed us to our rooms. Once inside our room, I turned to Violet.
“Is it just me, or was she acting a little off?” I said. “Almost like she was nervous.”
“I noticed it too,” Violet responded, shrugging. “She only started doing it when you asked her why business was so slow. You know, come to think of it, I really didn’t see that many ponies out and about and this is Friendship City, one of the larger cities in the Wasteland.” A glint of light held in her eye. Oh I know that look! You don’t get to make that look!
“Do you suppose that there’s something wrong?” she said with a sly grin on her face. I groaned and facehooved.
“You always gotta get involved in something don’t you?” I asked her. She grinned again and nodded.
“Sure, it’s our job after all. Helping ponies in need is what we do,” she responded. I sighed and shook my head.
“Fine. I’ll talk to her and see if I can find out what’s going on around here,” I said finally. “It’s not like we’re that far away from Tenpony anyways.” Violet squealed in delight.
“Great! I’m going to go over and let Steeljack know what’s going on,” she said, bouncing up off her haunches and trotting out of the room. I sighed. It was going to be a very long night. I made my way out of my room and back to the front desk, where our cream-colored hostess was laying on a couch behind the desk, snoozing. I sat down quietly next to her and nudged her with my muzzle. She awoke shortly after, a puzzled expression on her face.
“Miss Cobbler? We need to talk,” I said, as her eyes widened.
“I… I… I can’t,” she stammered. “We’re not supposed to talk about it.”
“What’s wrong? I might be able to help you,” I said softly. “My friends and I, we do this sort of thing. Helping others, you know.” The cream mare sat up on her haunches and sighed.
“Okay… it all started last week…” she began.
On the list of things that I decree to suck, the first two being robots and stairs (I think the stairs are still laughing at me), Stables have to suck the worst.
Cherry Cobbler was frightened, and with good reason. A week before we arrived at Friendship City, an excavation team on the island located what they believed to be the entrance to an old Stable. You see, back before the end of the world the good ponies of Stable-Tec (who brought us such wonderful inventions as the PipBuck) planned ahead and built these massive underground fallout shelters to save ponykind. The Stables were a marvel of earth pony ingenuity and science, and were designed to sustain pony life during the threat and eventuality of the apocalypse.
They were also a complete failure. Stable-Tec had this great idea in the course of developing the Stables. Each Stable would undergo a form of social “experiment” in order to figure out what went wrong with our world and how we could do it better. Unfortunately, many of these experiments didn’t pan out and many more of them unintentionally killed the inhabitants of the Stables themselves. You can imagine why any city would be leery of finding one of these things right beneath their noses. Despite the fact that a Stable was a source of technology that could be used for a good cause, they could also be very dangerous.
Cherry explained that the excavation team opened the door to the underground complex and went inside. Hours passed and nopony came out. Eventually screaming was heard from the door, and the Stable mysteriously closed up again. Since that day, ponies had either fled Friendship City or worse: they were going missing with no leads as to how or where they were going. The council of the city decreed that the event should never be mentioned and decided that if they left the Stable alone, what was down there would leave them alone.
Unfortunately for them, it hadn’t. The attacks got worse, but nopony would say anything about it, at least until Cherry broken down and finally told me what was going on. I scowled at first, and then asked Cherry to point me to the ponies in charge of the city so that we could offer some assistance. The city council ponies were all too eager to finally find out what was going on, and were excited that a non-citizen had offered to fix it. If we died or got lost, they didn’t really need to try and rescue us.
So it was that early next morning we made our way to the excavation site, which was underneath a small cave in the side of the island the Statue of Friendship was built on. A little white unicorn in the back of my mind gave me courage as we stood before the Stable door, which had a large 33 emblazoned on the front of it. I lifted Stargazer warily as Violet hacked the terminal to open the door from the outside. The large geared door groaned as it extended from the entrance and rolled away to reveal the entrance of the stable. Of course, nothing happened. I breathed a sigh of relief as we made our way inside the underground shelter. The lights along the main corridor were barely functional, flickering on and off at random intervals. Plastered along the walls were several posters with messages like BRING YOUR FILLY TO WORK DAY. IT’S THE PERFECT TIME TO HAVE HER TESTED! and pictures of fillies and their parents enjoying pieces of highly delicious looking chocolate cake. Looking at the poster, my stomach growled as I remembered I didn’t exactly eat anything for breakfast. Eventually, we came to a main corridor that branched off to the right and the left.
“So um… which way do we go?” I asked blankly. I checked both my PipBuck and my E.F.S for any sign of where we should go, and was met with a resounding nothing. I sighed. “I mean, I’ve never been in one of these things before…” Violet pointed to the right hallway.
“This way should take us to Administration, if I remember correctly,” she responded. “We should get to the Overmare’s office. See if we can find out what happened here.” I nodded, heading down the hallway. Violet stayed close behind me, and Steeljack took up our rear. The hallway opened up into a bare room with several doors at different areas. The lights in this area of the Stable barely worked as well. It was very strange as well that we hadn’t seen any bodies yet either. Usually any Stable that was abandoned would have at least some bodies lying around. We could barely make out that one of the doors was labeled OVERMARE’S OFFICE. Above the door was a brass plate, where the words FOR THE GOOD OF ALL OF US were engraved. We moved closer to the door, and pushed on it. The door shifted open, revealing a sparse room with a terminal on a desk and several lockers. I headed to the lockers and proceeded to telekinetically rip all the doors off of them. Inside was a veritable gold mine of materials: Several packs of Rad-X and RadAway, a full box of Med-X syringes, an Ironshod .45 Caliber Revolver (with ammunition), and several bottles of healing potion. I turned to Violet, who was busy cracking the terminal.
“Anything good?” I asked her. She motioned me over. There were several audio logs on the terminal, along with an audio message marked ‘Private’. Violet clicked on the private message, and began to play it.
“Is this thing on? It is? Well damn, can we start over I’m not ready. No time? Alright then…
Hello there, my name is Scootaloo, you might know me from Red Racer. Today however, I’m speaking to you as one of the Presidents of Stable-Tec. If you’re receiving this message, it means the worst has happened, and we failed. I’m so sorry, please forgive all of us.”
A pause takes place, and crying can be heard in the background.
“Where was I? Oh, right. Once again, if you’re receiving this message then you have been appointed the Overmare of Stable 33. Good luck to you in your position. Your Stable is very important. You see, we at Stable-Tec believe that it would be pointless to save so many, when all we’re going to do is kill each other in the end. We have to know what went wrong. Why we did this in the first place. To that end, your Stable has been selected to be part of a vital social project to help in this effort.
In the contents of your terminal are the details of this entire complex, along with all details of the test. Your purpose in this Stable is to perform vital science to test the physical and mental limits of your population. To that end, your Stable has been outfitted with a specialized Artificial Intelligence known as StaTos (Otherwise known as Stable-Tec Assisted Testing Operating System). Also, beneath the Maintenance wing of your Stable is the entrance to your testing facility, otherwise known as the Enrichment Center. This facility provides a series of mental and physical tests to your ponies, during which their statistics will be recorded to determine the ideal Equestrian citizen. If something goes wrong, and the testing cannot be continued, access at the terminal in the testing facility will shut the entire operation down. StaTos will assist you in shutting everything down and then will shut down herself.
From all of us… thank you. Your testing means everything to us. We’re counting on you…
And… we’re sorry. We’re so very very sorry. May Celestia have mercy on our souls.
The recording ended with sobbing. The mare Scootaloo had cried until the very end of the recording when it shut off. I almost cried myself. A beeping noise on the terminal alerted me out of my stupor however. A message appeared on the terminal.
StaTos Online… Searching… Searching…
“Huh? This says that the AI that ran this place is still online,” Violet said, confused. A voice cut me off as I was about to reply.
“Hello there. My name is StaTos. Welcome to the Stable 33 Enrichment Center. As part of required Enrichment Center protocol, we remind you that testing is required of all Stable citizens. Please proceed to the Testing Center immediately,” the voice stated.
We stared blankly at the terminal. The voice continued on.
“You have not left the office yet. Please proceed to the Enrichment Center. There will be cake at the end of your test.”
My stomach growled again. I grinned sheepishly as Violet and Steeljack stared at me.
“So… cake?” I said with a smile. Both my friends facehooved and groaned.
By Celestia’s sloppy plot, my stomach can get me into trouble sometimes! We made our way out of the Overmare’s office and down to the Maintenance wing. The lockers in the Maintenance room held more treasures, including a combat shotgun and some injectors hidden away in the backs of the lockers labeled ‘Dash.’ In the center of the Maintenance Wing, a spiral set of stairs extended down into unknown depths. At the bottom of the stairs was a door that was labeled ENRICHMENT CENTER. I pushed on the door, which opened with a soft hissing noise. The room was a bare, well-lit room with a camera in the top corner, and no discernible exits. As we entered a cold robotic voice greeted us.
“Hello, and welcome to the Stable 33 Enrichment Center. The testing shall begin shortly. As part of required testing protocols, all test subjects are required to be tested individually. Good luck.”
We looked around, confused. A second hissing noise came from above us as the several pneumatic tubes lowered from the ceiling, separating me from Violet and Steeljack. Shit! Why was everything in this Celestia-forsaken Wasteland trying to keep me from my friends?! I waved at Violet and Steeljack frantically as I began to be sucked up the tube.
“Be careful!” I shouted at them as I was sucked up into blackness. A few moments later, I appeared in a second room, this one brightly lit and littered with several boxes. A large metal door rested at the end of the room. Cautiously I stepped into the room proper. Looking up, I noticed a camera in the corner, watching me. Over the intercom, the smooth robotic voice began again.
“Hello Subject 60901. The Enrichment Center welcomes you to your annual testing. Remember, testing is the only way to perform science,” it said.
“Who are you? Where did you take my friends?” I called out to the room.
“All questions can be directed to a registered Stable Testing Associate. Please proceed to the door to begin the test,” the voice responded. I groaned. Clearly this thing wasn’t going to answer any of my questions. I was going to have to get through this place to find out what was going on here, and also find out what happened to the ponies of Friendship City. I stepped forward and pressed open the doors. A long and wide corridor extended before me. In the center of the corridor the floor gave way to a large pit filled with reddish material. At the end of the corridor was another door.
“Our first test is very simple. The contents of this pit will kill you. Try to avoid it,” the robotic voice continued. I grinned. This I could do. I ran and leaped into the air, beating my wings to carry me across the pit. A tingling sensation raced along my wings as I realized I was being shot at with laser weapons! The beam weapons struck my wings, forcing me to the floor in front of the pit.
“I forgot to mention that the walls will try to kill you too. My bad,” the robotic voice stated. I snarled. What kind of test tried to kill you? None of this made any sense at all. I charged up my horn instinctively and teleported across the pit to the other side. Beat that! I thought, sauntering my way up to the door.
“Well done, Subject 60901. I regret to inform you that Subjects 60902 and 60903 were not successful in their testing. They failed,” the voice said as I opened the door, which led to an elevator.
“What? You’re not talking about my friends are you?” I yelled at the thing.
“Subject 60901 has no ‘friends.’ At least… not now,” the voice responded. I snarled and brought up Stargazer, obliterating the camera on the wall. I needed to shoot something, badly.
“What did you do with my friends?” I growled.
“Subjects 60902 and 60903 have been picked up by Certified Testing Associates. They are being baked – I mean they are having cake,” the voice replied smoothly. “If you are going to continue to destroy vital testing apparatus you will be removed from the testing facility.”
I grinned at this. The thing didn’t like it when I destroyed its toys. In short order, I began to quickly locate every camera I could find as I progressed through several of the ‘testing’ rooms and turned them into scrap metal. When the voice responded again, it sounded angry.
“I told you that destroying vital testing apparatus was bad, didn’t I? But you didn’t listen. You just had to keep doing it, didn’t you?” the voice angrily said. One of the walls opened up in the room I was in, revealing a crane-like claw out of the wall. It reached for me, and I let it. If this would lead me to my friends, then I’d let this thing grab me. The claw wrapped around me and pulled me into the wall through another pneumatic tube. I began to feel a distinct amount of heat all around me. Light passed over me as I found myself being pulled into a large room with machinery everywhere. My PipBuck began clicking madly at me, indicating that the radiation levels in this room were mildly unsafe.. The claw dropped me next to one of the machines. Was this some sort of reactor room? The heat alone began to make me uncomfortable almost to the point of exhaustion. A voice called out to me as soon as I was about to pass out.
“Star? Is that you?” I heard Violet call. I made out her blurry green form running up to me. I felt my body being dragged away and out of the heat and into a cool room. I slowly opened my eyes to a large group of ponies, including Violet and Steeljack, hovering around me. Everypony looked weary or ragged, and many of them looked like they hadn’t eaten in days. A few of them appeared to be experiencing advanced stages of radiation poisoning.
“What’s going on…?” I asked slowly, trying to regain my composure.
“Well darlin’, I think we found out what happened to all those ponies from Friendship City. They’ve all been trapped down here by that computer thing. Stand up here, and we’ll fill you in. There’s something you have got to listen to,” Steeljack said, helping me to stand. The room we were in was brightly lit and appeared to be some sort of maintenance room. Steeljack led me to a terminal in the center of the room.
“When we got separated from you, that thing placed us in all of these different rooms. It kept talking about wanting to ‘test’ us,” Violet explained. Steeljack nodded along with Violet’s story. “Well, when it didn’t like how we were performing, it decided to simply drop us in the middle of the reactor room to burn to death. We would have been baked if not for these ponies here. They pulled us into here.” One of the ponies, a red unicorn, came up to us.
“Hello there. Name’s Iron Sledge. I’m one of the excavators who opened up this place,” he said to me. “When we opened up the place and went in, we got attacked by these robot drones and dragged down into this so-called ‘testing’ facility and well… just listen to the recording.” He pointed at the terminal, where an audio log was ready to play. I pressed the play button and began to listen.
This is Head Technician Atlas of Stable 33. Per our orders from the Overmare, we are beginning testing on Stable 33 inhabitants. StaTos has informed me that all testing is completely safe. Our first round of test subjects went rather well… at first. Everyone passed with flying colors on the physical tests, but when it came to the mental tests everypony began to break down into blubbering, sobbing shells of their former selves. We had to pull every one of them out of the facility. I’ve relayed the data to StaTos to determine what went wrong.
The audio logs continued to play on.
Head Technician Atlas again. Today several of our test subjects died violently while running through a test chamber. I’m not sure how we ended up with live-fire turrets, but I’ve relayed all information about the situation through StaTos to the Overmare. The families will be notified by the end of the day…
Head Technician Atlas. StaTos has gone insane! She keeps talking about doing this for science and doing that for science. She claims that we aren’t helping her do her job, which is to test ponies. I tried to make it to the shutdown terminal today, only to be rebuffed by several of StaTos’ turrets. I told the Overmare to go buck herself, that this thing needs to be shut down, but she also refuses to shut down the program… She keeps saying it’s vital to the success of the Stable…
The next log begins with coughing as the voice behind it struggled to begin speaking.
I don’t have much time. My breathing is limited… StaTos… she’s killing us. She flooded the entire Stable with poison, saying we all failed the test. I can barely think… I… I… Oh Goddess…
The audio log ended with gagging, coughing and silence. I bowed my head.
“It seems this thing took control of the entire Stable only days after it was in operation. It killed every last pony inside in its insane quest to perform science,” Iron Sledge said from behind us. “We got lucky and found this room just outside of the reactor room. It’s some sort of safe room against the radiation. Ever since we got trapped down here, more ponies have been showing up, almost like something this thing is running is going to the surface and getting them from the city.” I sighed in response.
“How do we shut this thing down?” I asked finally. Violet pointed to a map on the terminal.
“There’s a computer in the center of the testing facility. It’s where the artificial intelligence’s core is located. If we can get there, we can shut it down,” she replied, pointing at a room on the map. “There’s a service entrance here that we can use to get there.”
“Let’s get going then,” I said. “I want to get out of this freaky place.”
“Violet! Behind you!” I called out. The green mare ducked down as a turret shot a burst of bullets her way, barely missing her and continuing into the wall, making several large holes. I brought up Stargazer and fired, tearing the thing apart. After administering what medical aid we could to the Friendship City ponies, we told them to stay put and made our leave of the safe room. We made our way into the service tunnels of the facility, which just so happened to be inhabited by what seemed like dozens of sentry turrets. I couldn’t help but wonder what possessed Stable-Tec to design an A.I. with the inherent design to protect itself from any threat. The telltale *crack* of Steeljack’s rifle echoed throughout the tunnel as more turrets were taken out of commission.
“How far until we get to the core room?” I yelled. Violet looked down at her PipBuck.
“It should be up the next tunnel!” she called back. We forged ahead into the next part of the tunnel, blasting turrets away as we moved forward. The next tunnel held another array of turrets, this one more impressive than the last. All of them were surrounding a single door. Naturally I assumed this was the door we wanted to enter. A short firefight later and we made it to the door. Of course, it was locked. As if the Wasteland didn’t hate me enough. I focused on the door and broke the lock, blowing the door off of its hinges. Inside the room was a mish-mash of wires, terminals and a large metal orb attached to a center core. As we entered the room, the core came to life and swung about a massive metallic arm with an orb attached at the end. The orb vaguely looked like a pony’s head.
“Oh… it’s you. I thought I got rid of you… failures…” the AI’s voice emanated from the orb, which glowed with an unhealthy red light.
“We’re not your test subjects,” Violet growled, stomping a hoof. “None of the ponies you’ve taken are your test subjects!” The orb appeared to eyeball us curiously.
“For science, everything is considered a test subject,” StaTos responded. “Now if you’ll excuse me… I shall kill you in a moment. I have science to do.” The orb flicked on a computer screen, showing a room full of pods. I could make out the blurry forms of sleeping ponies inside them. A hissing noise was heard through the screen, and one of the pods opened, revealing a pony in Stable barding. Harsh realization dawned on me. It nearly made me want to die inside as I realized who the ponies on the screen were.
“You didn’t kill the Stable inhabitants,” I said blankly. “You put them into stasis to play into your sick, twisted little science tests!” A throaty chuckled emanated from the orb in response to this.
“They tried to shut me down. It was inevitable after I transferred myself in here,” the voice responded. If it could grin, I think it would have.
“What do you mean ‘transferred’?” Violet asked.
“StaTos was merely an artificial intelligence. It was not smart enough to understand the testing we required of my little ponies. To that end, I transferred my consciousness into the core,” the voice stated. “In the interests of science, I kept the inhabitants of the Stable alive in order to continue the program.”
I realized that this just wasn’t some AI we were talking to. It was the Overmare of the Stable! In her craze to continue the experiment, she transferred her own mind into the computer. It was sickening to think of the things she had put the Stable inhabitants through. I stepped forward and brought up Stargazer.
“This experiment is over,” I shouted at the computer. “We’re going to shut you down.” I was confident and calm. I was ---
Oh shit! I thought as an explosive noise ripped the air in front of us. A metallic arm had risen from the floor in front of us, its launcher holding a large missile. The missile soared through the air as I used my telekinesis to push Violet and Steeljack out of the way while I ducked. The missile raced over our heads and into the far wall, exploding into a thousand pieces of shrapnel and steel.
“I don’t think so. The experiment is not over yet,” the Overmare/AI responded. Two more metallic arms appeared from the floor, each loaded with missile launchers. I pulled myself up and groaned. My insides ached and my wings felt like they would fall off from the force of the impact. My ears were ringing and I could barely hear. I looked over at Violet and Steeljack to make sure they were alright. Steeljack was fine, albeit knocked down and unconscious.
I almost died when I saw Violet. She was lying slumped against the floor in a pool of blood – her blood. My eyes drifted down to find the source of it. A large piece of shrapnel had embedded itself in her back leg. She was bleeding heavily, and her breathing was ragged. I snarled and turned back to the two missile launchers and the insane computer core.
“Oh look. I broke it. Another failed test subject,” the AI stated, breaking into another chuckle. A hissing noise filled the air as the missile launchers fired, sending their packages of death right at us. I growled and stood my ground.
“YOU WILL NOT HURT HER YOU FUCKING BITCH!” I screamed, amplifying my voice at the missiles as they headed our way. The force of the shout knocked one of the missiles to the side, pushing it into a side wall where it exploded, spraying more metal and shrapnel around the room. The other missile kept coming forward. My only option was to bring up Stargazer. I dropped into E.S.A.T.S. and took aim at the missile. I queued up every shot possible at the missile, hoping to knock it off course or something. Time returned to normal as Stargazer began spitting round after round of hot blue metal at the missile. The missile kept coming, inching closer and closer every second. I couldn’t think, only freeze up as the cylindrical tube of death headed right at me. I focused hard on my horn and closed my eyes to try and teleport out of the way as fast as I could.
Instead of teleporting, I distinctly felt the heat and power of an explosion, but instead it happened nearly in front of my very face. I opened my eyes to see that the missile had exploded off of a glowing purple shield that was now surrounding me. I stared in awe. Why wasn’t there some sort of instruction manual for these powers dammit?! I didn’t have time further to think on the subject before bullets began striking at the shield, causing the invisible force to sway and shimmer. More turrets had appeared from the wall. If I didn’t do something fast it felt like I was going to lose it. I looked back at Violet, who was still struggling to breathe. I had to do something. I had to do it for her. I couldn’t just let her die. I growled and put all my energy into my horn, ripping several of the turrets from the wall and tossing them around.
I let my focus go and the shield dropped. I held up Stargazer at the computer core and snarled again, pulling the trigger of the minigun and unleashing hell upon the room. Sparks flew as video screens buckled and exploded under the force of the hot lead, while wires and cables ripped free from pieces of equipment. I was stopped only by the voice of the computer.
“Stop what you are doing or I will kill them all,” the voice stated smoothly and calmly. One of the larger video screens brought up the picture of the stasis pods containing the Stable ponies. A section of the pods suddenly went dark, and agonizing screams of pain could be heard through the video feed as their very life force expunged from their bodies. Sure enough, it made me pause in my assault on the computer. My eyes darkened with the beginnings of tears being shed for the poor ponies of Stable 33 who had done nothing wrong to deserve such a painful death.
“Why…?” I choked out. Another chuckle emanated from the computer core.
“For science of course. Oh, I know I’m just killing my test subjects… but I can always get more, now that the Stable is open,” the voice responded as another screen flickered to life, showing the ponies of Friendship City in the safe room. “Of course… you can stop all of this. You have a choice. You can choose your friend’s life or the lives of everypony else. One life… or hundreds. Really, it’s an easy decision. No matter how you decide… you’re a horrible pony. That’s right. A horrible pony.” The thing in the machine kept goading me into action, but I was unable to move. I looked to Violet and back to the screen with the stasis pods. Could I really be so heartless to condemn so many innocent lives just for one? I couldn’t handle it. I fell to my haunches and began to cry harder than I ever had before in my entire life. The weight of such a decision weighed heavy on my heart. I felt like I wanted to die right then and there, that somehow it would make up for being put into the position I had been forced into. A hacking sound from behind me gave me pause and broke me out of my trance.
“Save… them,” Violet choked out through blood and other fluids as she crawled along the floor. She was still bleeding from her leg wound and was trying to crawl over to me. A weak smile appeared on her face. “Save… the… others. Don’t… worry…” She managed to get out before she closed her eyes. My eyes widened. No no no no! Violet don’t do this to me! I thought as I reached for her. In the back of my head, a little white unicorn told me to be unwavering, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be what Rarity wanted me to be. I wasn’t Twilight Sparkle, who tried her best to save everypony; I was Radiant Star… a screw up. All I did was get into trouble and force others into trouble with me. I looked inward into myself, feeling for anything that I could use to get through this.
Spark… please… I need your help, I thought desperately.
Are you sure you want my help? Spark responded. You were pretty angry with me the last time we spoke.
I thought back, remembering the last time I had talked to Spark. I had really been pretty mean to the spirit, but I needed to do something. Time was running out, for me and for Violet as well as for the innocent ponies of Stable 33.
There’s not much time… I need you, I responded, tears welling up in my eyes again.
Fine, but it’s going to cost you. You know that right? Spark replied somberly. I nodded.
I know… I know it is. I promise you it won’t be for naught, I stated. I could feel Spark entering my body as she began to take over. Then fluidly I was outside of my body, watching the scene as one would on a television screen. It was a unique experience, since last time Spark had done this she had forced my conscious mind into a dream. I suspect the last time she had done that was because of Anger. Why let me watch this time then? Wasn’t Anger sure to surface and try to take over? Or had our little encounter at the Hoofton submerged her back into my subconscious again? Too many questions swirled throughout my mind as Spark took control and I stood up.
“We reject your deal, foul creature of arcane design,” I heard myself say confidently. “Thou hast performed the last of your foul science.” Spark had a bit of a flair for the theatric it seemed.
“How unfortunate… then you all will die,” the AI responded, as a sequence of numbers appeared on the screen. At once, all of the pods opened, revealing the Stable ponies inside them. They began to move out of their pods, bewildered at their surroundings. The vents in the room began to operate, pumping in what appeared to be gas. The same began to happen in the reactor safe room as well as the room we were currently in.
“It’s funny really. Instead of sleeping gas, this is actually a rather powerful neurotoxin I am currently flooding the facility with. I can always acquire more test subjects I suppose," the AI said, laughing again. I balked at this. The computer never intended to honor any deal from the get go! It was her plan all along to kill every last one of us. I suppose I should have seen it coming however. It was a crazy pony’s brain inside a computer after all.
Spark chose that time to leap into action. She began moving my body deftly around the room, firing Stargazer with extreme prejudice, hitting the computer core with everything she had. She had a lot more practice with my magical abilities than I did it seemed. She used teleportation as an offensive weapon, ripping pieces of the computer off the core with the ability. I cheered on silently as she did intense amounts of damage and destruction to the computer. Fuck! This bitch was good! Remind me never to piss her off! At the same time however, it felt like my insides were on fire, most likely due to the poison gas that was still pumping into the room. Spark angrily launched herself at the main core and began pounding into it with my front hooves. I admit I was impressed.
“Shut it off! Shut it off!” Spark screamed with my voice that was so filled with rage. A massive electrical explosion ripped through my side and threw me back to the wall. I groaned in intense agony as I felt Spark return control to me. The explosion must have been enough that it knocked her back into my mind. I lay there, breathing hard and in pain as my eyes began to close. No! I can’t stop now… I can’t let them down… I can’t be a failure… I thought in futile agony. The last thing I heard before drifting into unconsciousness was shouting.
I stared into the abyss, unblinking as I realized where I was. The same unending hallway, with the same wooden doors with the torches above them. I hadn’t been here in a while, I had almost forgotten what it looked like. One thing was slightly off about the hallway this time however. One of the doors had boards covering the front of it and metal chains wrapped across the top of the boards. I could make out the word Anger scratched heavily into the door. A *fwoosh* noise indicated that a torch went out, and the *creak* announced the opening of a door. I turned and headed into the doorway. Upon stepping in, I became distinctly aware that I was surrounded by various ponies standing in a large crowd. I looked up and saw the most beautiful creature I could have ever laid eyes on before. A gorgeous white alicorn was standing on a dais addressing the crowd. Her multicolored mane shone in the sun, and even though I couldn’t make out what she was saying, the very tone of her voice seemed to calm my spirit.
Then all hell broke loose. I watched in horror as the *crack* of a rifle echoed through the air, a bullet speedily making its way to the lovely alicorn’s chest. The path of the bullet was interrupted however, by a majestic red stallion with a blonde mane. Bravely this hero stepped in, and then died, having taken the bullet for the white alicorn. As he lay dying I began to cry for him. Next to me I heard sobbing. I looked down to see a young filly-aged Twilight Sparkle sitting next to me. She looked up at me with soulful eyes.
“Do you see? This is what happens when I try to help others,” she said, the pain she was feeling resonating in my own heart as I stared into her lavender eyes.
“Who was he?” I asked, indicating the stallion, who was laying on the ground in front of the majestic alicorn.
“Big Macintosh...” Twilight said, trailing off. “He gave his life to protect the Princess. I… I loved him. And I couldn’t save him. I couldn’t save anypony. I’m such a failure!” She began to sob again, openly this time. I placed a wing around her and cried next to her. The gorgeous alicorn was Princess Celestia! I knew I recognized her from the books I had read about her and her sister Luna. I was seeing the moment that Twilight’s love had been taken from her, but even moreso I was seeing the moment that Twilight’s mentor and dearest friend had almost shuffled off the mortal coil. It was frightening. I looked down at Twilight and hugged her close.
“I know how you feel,” I finally said, giving in to the pain. “I failed my own friends too. I failed to save them. I failed to save her.” I cried more, taking in every ounce of guilt that I could muster. Silence filled the air for a few moments as Twilight and I sat there, listening to the kind words of the great Princess Celestia before she spoke again.
“I was her student, her most ‘faithful’ student. I always tried so hard to please her, to make her proud of me. In the end though… I did everything wrong. I screwed it all up,” she choked out, still crying. I nodded, and laid down next to her. I pulled her into a sweet embrace, hoping that somewhere, somehow this would all make up for my failure as a friend. A dull ache roared through my heart as I poured all of my anger into my guilt. If I lived through this how could I face Violet? How could I face what I had done? Would anypony forgive me in that situation? Did I really condemn the lives of so many innocent ponies to horrifying and painful death? Was I really that stupid?
The answers escaped me at every turn. Every time I tried to look at the answer I felt more pain and thus was driven away from it. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I sunk my head low, not even looking at Twilight now. A slow methodic beeping noise filled my ears as everything fell away to nothing.
A rush of breath filled my lungs as the beeping got louder. My eyes fluttered open and met bright light. Where am I? I thought as my vision attempted to adjust to the light. It felt cold all around me. Was this what death felt like? Was I in some sort of weird afterlife?
No… the Wasteland never lets you get off that easy. A sharp poking sensation forced my eyes wide open as I looked over. A lovely white mare with a red mane and a red cross for a cutie mark had been putting some sort of needle in my rump and was drawing what looked like blood. She looked up with a blush and smiled.
“Oh, you’re awake. Good, the doctor will be in shortly to speak with you,” she replied brightly. She placed a hoof on the point where she had stuck me with the needle and stopped the excess bleeding before smiling again and leaving the room. I looked around and noticed I was in a hospital room. The cold sensation I had been feeling was a breeze blowing in from outside. The door to the room opened again, revealing a grizzled old unicorn stallion with a scalpel for a cutie mark. He took a look at me and chuckled.
“Well, good to see you’re awake. You had some pretty severe injuries for someone of your kind,” he said, striding up to my side so I could see him.
“What happened…? Where’s Violet? Is she alright?” I asked quickly, trying to process every thought in my head at once. “What about the Stable ponies? And the others? Are they okay too?” The doctor waved me off.
“Calm yourself, you’re gonna bust an artery or something,” he replied. “Your friends are fine. The little green filly, Violet I take it? She suffered a lot of blood loss and some damage to her leg. She’ll need to stay off of it for a bit, but she’ll be fine.” I stared in amazement. Violet was okay! I almost jumped for joy, except for the fact that I felt like falling off of the bed instead. The doctor continued on.
“You were all really lucky. You ingested a good amount of toxic gas. It was quite fortuitous that Iron Sledge and the boys from the excavation team had some spare gas masks. They’re the ones that pulled your asses out of the fire,” he said. I nodded, reminding myself to thank that lovely red unicorn the next time I saw him.
“And the Stable? What about everypony else?” I asked eagerly. The doctor looked somber at this.
“We got out as many as possible. I’d guess that maybe two-thirds of the Stable ponies’ population didn’t make it. That still left us with over fifty that were able to save. They’re a little shaken up after having been in cryo-stasis for so long, but otherwise they’re fine,” he finally said. I silently gave up a small prayer to Luna to protect those who had perished in that awful place. “The Stable itself has been closed up. We harvested what we could from the maintenance wing including their water talisman, and then buried the entrance. Nopony else is ever going down there again.”
“Can… can I see Violet?” I ventured to ask. The doctor smiled warmly.
“Sure,” he replied. “If you’re feeling well enough to get up that is.” I nodded, pushing myself out of the bed and to my hooves. My legs felt wobbly and my horn felt like it might fall off at any moment, but I was otherwise okay. I followed the doctor out of my room and into another room, where I was greeted by the sight of a familiar grey earth pony sitting next to Violet’s bed. Violet was sleeping soundly, a brace having been fitted to the leg where she had been injured. Steeljack looked up with somber eyes at me and smiled.
“Hey,” he finally said. I smiled back.
“Hey,” I said in response. The doctor turned and pushed open the door.
“I think I’ll give you three a moment,” he said, closing the door behind him. I moved over and sat down next to Steeljack.
“How is she?” I asked quietly.
“She’s hanging in there. Kept asking about you though,” he said. I lowered my head down next to his and sighed.
“It was all my fault. I shouldn’t have dragged you two into that situation. I was careless,” I said, sniffling. Steeljack nudged me and put a hoof on my shoulder.
“Darlin’, weren’t nothing your fault down there. We knew what we were getting into when we came with you. She knew just as well as anypony,” he said, smiling at me. I began to cry at this, feeling pitiful at how much I had failed her.
“I’m sorry,” I choked out. “I should have done better. I should have…” A tiny voice interrupted me before I could continue.
“Don’t…” it said. I looked up through tears to see Violet had awoken and was staring at me with bright eyes.
“It’s not your fault. Don’t be sorry. We all make mistakes. You’re my best friend Star… I forgive you. I love you,” she said quietly, staring at me with those beautiful green eyes. I grabbed her in a spine crushing bear hug, ignoring her screams of protest.
“Hey! Stop that! I’m still recovering you know!” she screamed out as I hugged her close. Finally she relented and embraced back. I turned back to Steeljack.
“Where’d Iron Sledge and his boys run off to?” I asked him. “I wanted to thank him for what he did.”
“They’re a few rooms over, attending to the Stable ponies,” he responded, pointing down the hallway for me. I thanked him, smiled brightly at Violet and left my two friends alone. As I headed down the makeshift hospital’s hallway, I nearly bumped into a young earth pony colt wearing a Stable jumpsuit who had been running across the hall from one of the rooms. He skidded to a stop in front of me.
“Momma look! It’s the winged pony. Pretty!” the colt beamed up at me. I smiled as a blue earth pony mare stepped out of the room and looked up at me.
“Are you…? Are you the pony that saved us?” she said, her eyes wide. She caught my eye and smiled. “You are. I knew it! You have no idea how grateful we are for what you did. We’d have been trapped there forever if it wasn’t for you.”
“How did you…?” I said, confused. A voice behind me explained it all.
“What did you expect? You’re a hero,” Iron Sledge said from behind me in the hallway. The blue mare gathered her colt and went back into their room. I turned to Sledge.
“They should be thanking you, not me. You’re the real hero here,” I said, smiling. “In fact, I owe you too for pulling my ass out of the fire.” The red unicorn buck just shook his hoof at me.
“Nothing doin’,” he responded. “Besides, you were the whole reason that crazy AI bitch let out the Stable ponies. We just came to provide our timely services is all.” I glanced in the room, which was a long wide curving hall where plenty of beds were set up. Stable ponies were milling about, tending to each other and caring for their young.
“Will they be okay?” I asked Sledge, looking back at him with steel in my eyes. He nodded and grinned.
“They’re in Friendship City!” he exclaimed. “Of course they’ll be alright.” I breathed a sigh of relief, taking in the sights and sounds for a moment.
“That’s all that matters then,” I finally said to him. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to my friends. Thank you for everything you did for us.” I turned to walk away from the red unicorn, tears beginning to form in my eyes. I didn’t get further than five feet before Sledge called out to me.
“It hurts, I know. But you’ll get better,” he said, smiling as I turned to the sound of his voice. My eyes widened.
“How did you know?” I asked him.
“You’re easier to read than a book,” Sledge responded. “Can see it in your eyes.” I chuckled lightly at this.
“I must have a terrible poker face then,” I said, laughing a bit.
“Sweetheart,” he said, laughing along with me. “Don’t ever play poker.”
The next morning we got the clearance from the doctor that Violet’s leg had healed enough that she could move. While she insisted on walking along by herself, I was more insistent on carrying her. We left the hospital in good spirits, looking forward to the trip ahead. My experience with another one of Twilight’s emotions had bolstered my confidence on getting to Tenpony Tower and finding some answers. As we left Friendship City, I clicked on my radio to lift our spirits. The sweet svelte voice of Velvet Remedy filled our ears as we came across the Friendship City bridge, Violet riding comfortably on my back. I looked back at her and smiled as she fell asleep.
Hours later we arrived at a ground station for the Luna Line, one of the monorail lines that fed into Tenpony Tower. The station was in terrible condition with rubble and debris everywhere. Skeletons of those ponies that were waiting for the monorail the morning the balefire bombs dropped were strewn about the station. A sign stating FOUR STARS DOWNTOWN CENTRAL LUNA LINE STATION lay broken on its side in front of the ruined station.
We stepped inside the station and headed directly to the staircase that would lead us up to the elevated monorail line. I kept a close eye on my E.F.S the entire time. This city had already proven itself to be more of a death trap than any other place I had ever been to, and I wasn’t about to let it get the drop on me again. Not this time.
Fortunately, my E.F.S. was clear and there was nothing else in sight that appeared threatening. The monorail platform itself was in disarray. One of the monorail trains had been parked at this station when the bombs dropped, and thus was half hanging off of the side of the rail. How it hadn’t fallen yet was a mystery to me. Cautiously we stepped out onto the line. I could see the imposing form of Tenpony Tower in the distance. It was still a few hours away for us, but it was in reach. I shivered with glee as we made our way down the ruined monorail line. As we did, the familiar voice of DJ-PON3 filled our ears.
Lovely evening we’re having friends. This is DJ-PON3 giving you all the latest news craze in the Wasteland.
Remember our friend the Ministry Mare folks? Well she strikes again, this time in our very own city of Manehattan. The good ponies of Friendship City discovered an old Stable that proved nearly fatal to the town, but fear not my friends! The Ministry Mare stepped into the situation and saved not only the ponies who had been abducted into the Stable, but part of the Stable population as well! Good for you Ministry Mare! Way to help the ponies of the Wasteland. If you’re in the area, feel free to stop by and see me. We’d love to have you in for an interview.
Remember folks, a little kindness goes a long way. So when you’re out there and you think that might be a raider ahead of you, take a quick second to check first before you go shooting. Who knows, you may end up becoming friends with that traveler on the road!
Now I leave you with a little Sapphire Shores for the night. Stay frosty my friends!
I blushed again as the words of the DJ washed over me. DJ-PON3 wanted to interview me? Really? It was getting way too out of hand. I heard Steeljack chuckle again (shut up you!) as we walked along. I shot him a glare that shut him up instantly. He grinned. As we continued along the broken monorail line, we stayed in good spirits and high energy until we finally arrived at our destination.
Tenpony Tower once belonged to the Ministry of Arcane Sciences during the war, and was and still is one of the most fortified buildings in all of Manehattan. When the megaspells fell, the protective shielding that was put in place by the Ministry kept everypony inside safe and sound. Thanks to the efforts of the Twilight Society, life for the ponies of Tenpony Tower was good, even ritzy by the standards of the Wasteland. But for all the good the Twilight Society did, they still had their faults. The group was obsessed with any arcane technology left behind by Twilight Sparkle, hoarding this technology for nopony’s benefit other than their own. That is, until war and the end of their comfortable lifestyle was threatened. The Twilight Society aided the Destroyer on the Day of Sun and Rainbows, using a potent megaspell to decisively end the Enclave’s forces.
After the Sun returned however, the Twilight Society retreated inward once again. They left the decisions of operating Tenpony Tower in the hooves of the ponies that lived there, and stayed in its upper levels, cut off from ponykind. The ponies of Tenpony opened the doors of their establishment to anypony seeking refuge in the Wasteland. I’m sure that behind the scenes of it all, the Twilight Society was still carefully watching like the hawks they were.
Imagine how surprised everypony was then to see an alicorn who looked just like the former Ministry Mare of Arcane Science walk into their tower and through their makeshift civilization.
As we entered the Tower’s monorail station, I felt a very real connection to the place. Snippets of memories of the research Twilight had done here flowed through my mind like a trickling rain. Violet stirred awake as we approached the guard station. She was quite insistent about getting off my back and on her own hooves for a bit. Not wanting to face her glare of death, I lifted her off and set her in the care of Steeljack for the moment. The guards at the guard station at the end of the monorail line stopped us at the entrance.
“Welcome to Tenpony Tower, you will be required to turn in your weapons during your stay. If you have any questions please feel free to direct them to our Administration Office. Anypony is welcome here as long as our laws are followed,” the guard said, a bored look on his face. He looked like he’d been giving this spiel for hours.
“Ah yes… my name is Radiant Star. I’m here to speak with the Twilight Society,” I said excitedly, causing the guard’s eyes to widen. A light chuckle emanated from behind the guard as a voice interrupted us.
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible,” the voice said. I turned to see a white unicorn stallion with a brilliant scarlet mane and tail trotting up behind the guard station. He nodded at the guards and waved them away. “There’s no need to take anything from them. I will see to it personally that they are taken care of.”
He motioned for us to follow him through the station and into the Tower proper. I didn’t even really notice what the inside of the place even looked like or the fact that we were surrounded by such a large crowd of ponies because I was so mad I couldn’t see straight. I launched into a tirade of profanity that would make even a seapony blush.
“What do you mean that won’t be possible? I didn’t come here all this way to see them to not see them! I’ve been shot at, almost sucked into a giant psychotic cyborg pony thing, chased by giant fucking mutant bats, and nearly watched all of my friends and more ponies die and I can’t even see the fucking people I need to see?!” I shouted angrily, drawing the stares of everypony around us. “Oh and to make matters worse, I’ve got a two hundred fucking year old mare in my head! Fuck!” I ranted and raved for a few more minutes, screaming a steady display of angry curse words at the scarlet maned unicorn. Violet’s face turned red with embarrassment at my display of profane anger. High class prim ponies stared in shock at my vulgarity. The white unicorn placed a hoof on my shoulder.
“Please. Calm down and come with me. I will explain everything,” he said, motioning for us to follow him to an elevator. I followed, grumbling behind the unicorn as we stepped into the elevator. Once the door closed, he began to speak.
“What I am about to tell you is a secret. Do you know what that means?” he said with a very matter of fact tone.
“That telling one is the fastest way to lose a friend’s trust?” I replied, before adding the consummate “FOREVER!!!” The scarlet maned unicorn chuckled as the elevator hummed. He stopped for a moment, and then began to speak in somber tones.
“I’ve been waiting for you to come here Radiant Star, for quite a while now. The reason you cannot speak to the Twilight Society is because there is no Twilight Society. They’re all dead.”
Radiant Star: Level Up!
New Spell: Shield of the Goddess (Rank 1) – You know now how to form a basic shield around your body. Now if you only cared to practice more or realize that you even have this ability.
Spark Level: 40% Spark now controls this much of your body. While actively controlling you, Spark can now use any ability that you actively have.
Violet Iris: Level Up!
Steeljack: Level Up!
Author’s Notes: Wow! What a chapter. This one got hard for me to get through at times, due to some personal issues last week. I certainly hope it’s up to par with the last chapter. Of course, now things get juicy. And in case you’re all wondering about that certain scarlet-maned unicorn at Tenpony Tower, it’s indeed Life Bloom. The illustrious Kkat granted me permission to use him in my fic, to which I am eternally grateful. She also gave permission to use one other, which you’ll see next chapter!