There came an era when the ideals of friendship gave way to greed, selfishness, paranoia and a jealous reaping of dwindling space and natural resources. Lands took up arms against their neighbors. The end of the world occurred much as we had predicted -- the world was plunged into an abyss of balefire and dark magic. The details are trivial and pointless. The reasons, as always, purely our own. The world was nearly wiped clean of life. A great cleansing; a magical spark struck by pony hooves quickly raged out of control. Megaspells rained from the skies. Entire lands were swallowed in flames and fell beneath the boiling oceans...
… but it was not, as some had predicted, the end of the world. Instead, the apocalypse was simply the prologue for a bloody chapter in pony history. This is a chapter from that history, told from the three ponies that experienced it firsthand.
Blue Wire sat in The Soggy Plow, sipping on whiskey. Swirls of smoke filled the air. It was by far the best bar he had ever laid his eyes on in a long time. It would have been perfect if not for the loud and rambunctious crowd that had formed in the corner.
Several patrons were gathered around something that was so amazing, they could only express their joy by screaming obscenities. As long as they kept to themselves, Wire had no concern for it. The only thing that mattered was this drink and the exquisite drug currently making it`s way though his blood steam.
It was like being wrapped in a warm blanket made of clouds and sunshine. All the pain and strain from his workday faded away.
No longer was he being yelled at by a stuck up mail pony for bringing packages with extra holes than they had started out with. No guards either to harass the smaller pony for being too short to put said package in its proper slot in the mail room. Just bliss. It could never last...
It was around that time when the joy that filled the air was replaced by the sounds of anger... and a table. Wire wasn’t sure who swung first; all that mattered was the black mare with fire in her eyes that had started to end it.
It was almost as if the patrons had been waiting for a piece of her flank.
With little effort, she took on the hoard that was clambering for her, screaming profanity that would have a pony made of weaker stuff cry. Wire decided that the smartest thing to do would be to run out of the bar as quick as his little hooves could pull him.
Instead he wound up diving behind the bar and out of the way of a wayward flying table. A fight was going on and the barkeep running for help, he decided a bit of a taste test could be arranged. The private stash under the bar made his “high class” whisky taste like rain water that had been collecting in a bucket full of refuse by comparison.
The smoke that had given the bar a nice atmosphere had turned thick. Since small peeks at the action had never killed him before, Wire chanced a look.
Some ponies claim that fire is alive, that it can hunt you down and take everything from you. Wire knew that old saying was true the second he saw the living mare-inferno on the other side of the room. She looked as if she and the fire were one. Wire promised himself that no matter how hard times got, he would never work with somepony that insane.
The smell of burnt fur began to make its way behind the bar. It was enough to make little pony gag, almost losing the expensive liquor that he had been chugging. The room was getting hotter, and not from the booze.
Wire reached a hoof over the bar and grabbed his bag of “supplies” so as not to add to the damage being done. One misplaced ember or a shot from that flamer
and this once lovely bar would be a crater turned tomb for Wire. Something caught the attention of his ear.
”I told you caps before healing!”
“You wouldn`t mind paying extra to be healed for this would you?”
Heading for the backdoor Wire caught sight of a medic trying to make a few quick caps. He had a red coat and that made it hard to tell if it was his fur or the blood of his current patient`s. Maybe somepony had refused to cooperate? Either way, his new hope of wanting to slip out the back had been dashed.
It was then he noticed the silence. It would take a bit more than a literal fire-fight and some Applejack to dull his sharp senses to that point. To the best of his ability Wire figured the sudden lull was from a lack of screaming on the part of the fighters. As good a guess as any.
Glancing through a newly formed hole in the front of the bar, Wire noticed the doors of the bar had swung wide open with an intense light streaming in.
Like something from an old holotape he’d seen back home. Bandits had taken a bank and the police had wanted them to turn themselves in. He forgot the little bits in the middle, but he knew exactly how it ended. With everypony dead.
It was time to collect a few reparations for having his night off ruined. Grabbing a strip of metal out of his pack and slipping it on his hoof, Wire brought the hoof-file up to his mouth and clamped down on it with his front incisors before making his way to the register. Ignoring everything else, expert eyes homed-in on the easy to miss false panel on the floor.
Jamming his file and a strip of metal into the lock the small pony jimmied and listened.
It was all about pushing the tumblers into place, really, and the calm that Med-X gave him was enough to ignore entire Equestria. It was just him, his tools and the tumblers.
… and that was all he needed to hear. Once open, a small smile crept across his muzzle. Inside, there were at least seventy caps in a small bag, a vintage bottle of Berry Punch Reserve and last, more important than anything else, a piece of Sonic Rainboom Chew!
Nothing in the wastes had ever come close to the feeling that it had given him so long ago. Just a simple block of gum cut with Dash and Stampede, and infused with Med-X. Luna only knows who it was marketed to before the war, but all he knew was that it was amazing.
If Wire could shove all his caps into a box, mail it somepony and get a case in return, he’d do it in ten seconds flat. But now wasn’t the time to savor it.
Now was a time for action, and doing what he did best. Distract, divide, and duck. He spotted a bottle of ammonia, most likely used for cleaning up after a hard night of drinking. Wire put a glass on the ground and poured a shots worth of the fluids into it.
His last bit of hydrochloric acid was then dumped into the glass and then mixed into the bottle of ammonia.
Then it was time to pray that the makeshift bathroom towards the side of the bar was not being used as a refuge right now.
The black smoke from the fire was covering the area from the roof, until it escaped out the many holes in the walls. But the new white smoke was heavy. Funny how things work like that, Wire mused to himself while holding his breath for all he was worth. The small pony manged to squeeze through the opening in the back room where no pony with half a brain would bother pursuing him.
Outside the bar could have almost been described as nice. The sounds from inside were muffeld. If it wasn’t for the crowd that had gather outside, it looked like any normal night. Wire made his way away from the bar as much as his body would let him. The world was blurry and slanted; at least to him anyway.
Too much liquor. Wire had to sit, or he would be splayed out in the middle of the street, ready to be attacked, or worse. He had his forehooves on the bench when he realized something was up.
“Stop right there, criminal scum!”
Wire, in his new drunken and tired haze hadn’t noticed the three guards come up behind him.
“I’m sorry problem, is there an officer?” Wire said as innocently as he could, fumbling over the words with a slur.
They looked angry and annoyed. One of them had a baton levitating beside him, ready to use it to it’s full extent.
“That was a nice move back there you know. The whole crazy deadly smoke screen. Looting the bar for all its worth. And it might have worked out had you not left a trail of powder all the way to you hooves.”
Sometimes ponies say I’m not clever. It’s not that way at all. I’m far to clever for my own good. I’m one hundred percent positive that I will need thirteen pounds of black powder. Never know when there will be a situation that needs some dealing with. But that cleverness had been my undoing, leading the very people I wanted to avoid in the first place right to my safe spot. So yeah, next time, use a bit more boom, and bit less flair.
At some point in escaping the bar, his pack got caught on a jagged strip of steel and tore a hole on the pocket on the pack that held his powder. A nice thin trail leading all the way back to him.
The largest of the guards took Wires pack, while the other two put a shackle around his neck. Given that he was smaller than the sort they usually put in them, it was very loose. The guards made sure to be as rough as they possibly could to counteract that flaw in the design. He was about to say something with the air of “you treat all the stallions you try to mount this well,” but he was stopped by the towering stallion.
“Before you start yappin, they done told us that if you get out of line, we can smack you with our beatin sticks... so you had best think before you talk.” The largest guard said to Wire, who had decided his name should not be Tender Flank but instead Big McLarge-Huge.
“Well, I have one question, do you ever think before you speak?” Wire said to guard, a tone of anger in his voice, As promised, beating sticks were applied directly to his flank and forehead. This might have been laughable had his Med-X not decided now was the time to stop affecting him. McLarge-Huge was very excited to use his Celestia given talent of all brawn and no brain to its fullest.
“Yeah, take him in. The boss may have found a solution t-”
As the last of his Med-X wore off, he missed what they said. If he had any cognitive abilities left he would have guessed this wasn’t good. As he drifted off to blackness, his only thoughts were his need for some good drugs, and the pain that awaited him when he came to.
"It’s in my back pocket!"
Facing the backdoor of The Soggy Plow and grasping at a broken hoof, Romeo levitated out a bag of caps from his newly acquired patient. Then a piece of wood for him to bite on was levitated forward and forced inside the bar patron`s mouth.
"Shh, shh, shh tonight is just another night you see, and this is going to happen again and again and again and..." The doctor said, soothing the buck as he positioned himself properly so he could..
Mending bones without sedation always led to these incredible screams. A form of music not many ponies inside this fortress would be listening in on.
Here he sat in the servants entrance with a makeshift table and a steady queue of ponies to heal. Romeo felt that this night would bear fruit.
"Please?" Those begging, tear filled eyes from recent pain were like an art to him. It was the only form of honest expression you could ever get.
"I charge extra for bandages Darling, try not to get it broken again."
"Is no fair, that strength of his. High Tower just whisked by me and my hoof was broken."
"Sugar bomb?" The doctor offered as the buck was being patched up, but then he ate what had been presented himself before a proper answer could be given. The doctor felt like he had to get busy, broken bones amongst the first customers meant his favorite customer, the star attraction for wannabe tough guys and bouncer of The Soggy Plow, had taken his chem`s early.
Over a year in this hallway and inside this bar, had earned him a ton of caps, but it was still not even close to enough caps for the price he had set his sights on. Until then it was just him, a medic licence, and DJ Pon-3, the radio mostly serving as background noise.
"Romeo!" A mare shoved half the crowd aside with a beastly rage in her eyes. Her face and chest had been burnt badly but the mare refused regular healing. "Stampede. Heard from Bones you supply."
"He must also have told you that the price is 250 caps." Delightful currency dangled in Romeo`s saddlebags soon after.
" Fuck me with the moon. Newcomer will regret not playing fair." She huffed with anticipation as the needle entered her hoof drawing with it a pinch of blood.
Having done the deed. Romeo watched the mare as her eyes began growing bloodshot and her muscles flexing involuntary. She left howling for vengeance and nobody complained about her sneaking in the queue.
"Butch! my favorite customer. How can I help you today?" Romeo cheered as his next client entered. A brass shoe, black leather wearing misfit with Trouble as his middle name. Except today he was carrying two bucks with second degree burns, their mane`s still smoldering.
"The tunnel flanks are pulling out early today, our hair gel being flammable and all. But before we leave, I would also quite like to buy a health potion for each of my saviors. My hair exists today at the cost of their own."
"That will be 100 caps." This aspect of hair fascination was beyond ridicule at this point. Nicknames such as Tunnel Brushies or Hairflanks had become known to him by hearsay. The doctor heard Butch leave behind him. The two others dragged their feet behind him, obviously not satisfied with the result of their sacrifice.
The crowd was dwindling down, unnoticeable injuries, were for the most part, cured by overpriced potions and unicorn magic. The cheapest ways to scam caps out of people while still technically following his Hippocratic oath. Now that everypony had been taken care of, he ventured forth into the bar. Eager to see how this night`s war had ended.
"You`re welcome for the patients Doc." A mess of a mare presented herself before crumbling into consciousness. The only thing that appeared undamaged was gas mask that hung from her neck. She had no visible fractures and she seemed built to withstand this sort of punishment. On the other hoof, her scent was awful compared to other ponies.
Security had arrived some moments ago, near spotless uniforms armed with a penchant for authority and armed with batons. Lights flashing into his eyes as one of them trotted over to greet him with a sleek and commanding voice. "Hello, Doctor."
Romeo knew this pony by his vocal tunes alone. "Charger, how great to see that you took time off to chat with me! Sugar bomb?" The doctor offered, but ate it again. Everypony refused anyhow but it would be impolite to not at least ask.
"That will be Chief Charger for you, civilian. Take him outside. If he talks to anypony, beat him up and report that he resisted arrest."
Romeo`s head and body ached. The usual reaction one might expect from baton applied to face and body. The room was small, boxlike and only lit up with a single lamp. There was just enough light here to reveal brown walls that had obviously been white some centuries ago. The floor had a softness to it, a rubber floor.
“This is no way to treat innocent ponies,” Romeo slammed his hoof into the locked metal door after trying it multiple times. A significant Clang lingered in the air. Not soon after he had calmed down was the door opened.
“What?” Barely able to voice his complaints as he was dragged off and urged on with batons. These cruel ponies where pushing him around. He had rights! They shoved him into another room that was fairly similar to the cell he had just been inside save for a single table. “Come. Sit.”
“What is with this monotone white and steel?” Romeo finally inquired as he sat down.
“Hello Doctor Romeo. If that is your real name.”
“What in the name of our goddesses are you doing Charger? I am innocent and didn't cause trouble. Your men knocked me out, hurt me and then put me here. What for?” Feeling the pain from baton massage on his rear end the doctor shifted his weight uncomfortably.
“We found traces of stampede on a certain mare and there are only two ponies here who would be stupid enough to sell drugs in our town.”
“Search me.” Romeo bluffed, it would be impossible to prove that mixing what he had inside his pockets would produce stampede without knowing the recipe and he was the only one present in town that knew it.
“Bandaid has had enough of you stealing his patients, Grape seems to think that the violence in her bar will stop if the medical aid to keep it up vanishes and the city council has requested you take your practice elsewhere. Somewhere it is actually needed. Now they all gathered round and figured you might need some incentive to leave. I told them we could just kick you out, but the Mayor insisted. Your ass is going out either way so that means either my way or you accept their deal and get rewarded for it. Sound fair?"
“Compared with being tossed into the wasteland with nothing, yes. What is this reward?”
“We know you have been droolin’ for one of our most profitable ventures. We do have a limited supply of the Pipbuck 3000s and because of high demand, the price is equally so. They have agreed to part with one if you help us. We are goin’ to put some of the more troublesome wanderers that came here to work and we wouldn't want to send em off without a chance at reaching the finish line... let alone a compass so they can get proper directions.”
“I would like a stealth-buck too. If you are going to group me with these lovely ponies, I want a safe way out of the snake pit you lot seem intent on tossing me into and I want to be present when you talk this over with them. Their reactions are important to me.”
“Yes, that should be something I can arrange.”
“How many are there?”
“Not many at start, we just now have two prospects that fit the bill. A thief and this odd mare with an interest in fire.” Clapping his hooves together the Pegasus swiftly turned to face one of the guards on Romeo`s side. “Have Raisin wake the thief bring him here then check on the mare.”
“While we wait, come over to my side of the table, this is yours.” Charger lifted and opened a small briefcase. Inside was his price for taking on the mission. A Pipbuck 3000, complete with an intact manual.
Distracted with his reward time flied back quick. It was not long before the guards returned with the first prospect. A small frame of dirty blonde with dull, grey, unkempt mane complete with an interesting blue streak to it.
“Sit.” They forced him to comply, using their batons just like with Romeo.
"Anything else? Fetch a paper, grab your slippers?” The small pony barked, a faux smile on his face.
It was easy to read into it and assume his expression was one of anger but that was not something Romeo would be interested in.
The security chief intruded with a loud introduction. “Good morning I am Chief Charger, had a great night’s sleep here at our expense I assume?”
"Its no Tenpony, but I managed to survive. Room service leaves something to be desired. The wake up calls I could do without...” Obvious sarcasm on both of their parts.
“We woke you up because it is time to decide the fate of a thief that got himself caught. You see here in Friendship City we tend to broker deals with... Individuals such as yourself rather than just strip you of all gear and leave you to rot. Sounds good so far?”
"Oh boy, y’all really took out all the stops huh, wouldn't mommy be proud... you know... if she was still around..." The thief boldly replied.
Charger having little patience for what the colt was doing and quick to anger began flexing his jaw muscle`s. “If you refuse we will throw you out. If you abandon the job halfway we will put a bounty on you. So just say yes.”
'I’m a courier by trade, I'm gonna need more than that to go on..." The pair was taken aback by such a reasonable request, frowning the security chief clopped his hooves together and sent Ensign Raisin out to fetch some bottles of water. He had a feeling this might take awhile.
"Let me guess, the upholder of the oath of healing is this con-colt right here..."
Romeo grinned as if he had discovered a great joke but took pleasure in keeping it for himself. There was just no other way of dealing with this kind of flattery. “I will also be in possession of the only reliable form of navigation. Welcome to the team mr.?..”
“Call me Wire. Oh, Chuckles and captain Close Call, before I do anything for you or your corrupt little council, I've got a list of things you will give me along with my gear. Keep in mind I've never lost a package before..."
“Make your demands. We will see what we can do and I am Chief Charger, Captain is a whole rank below. The reason I have to speak with you is because only I possess the authority to grant you anything.” The security chief seemed to have abandoned feeling insulted or annoyed by now and that seemed to bother the thief.
"My list is composed of things that will make your head hurt. Hurt worse than mine. And you don't want that Chief."
The door opened and several flasks of water now decorated the table, Charger picked one up and drank in peace while ignoring the two of them. Having slaked his thirst the chief looked visibly happy again. “I don't really care what is on the list, so long as it is within reason. I am not in the habit of handing out gifts.”
Romeo picked up one of the bottles with clean water to drink. It was hard to not start becoming optimistic. He hoped that maybe it would not end up as expected after all. Wire seemed reasonable, if only in a grumpy sarcastic sort of way but that could be attributed to him not being a morning person or the rough treatment. Maybe he would be nicer as the day progressed or start cracking jokes before bedtime.
"So, how many other charity cases are you sending to their deaths? Such a noble stallion you are..." Wire asked after a quick sip of water.
“That depends on how many say ye-” Romeo replied with some haste but the pegasi intervened.
“One more after you. That makes three. Two criminals and a doctor. You will be escorting this buck to a place where he can serve a purpose rather than drain us of caps.” His tune carried with it hatred for freeloading.
"I want forty-two does of Med-X. Four pounds of trinitrotoluene. Hoof-picked 40mm, both H.E and conventional. A repair kit for my launcher, and you can fill up my bandoleer with grenades. Oh, a block of C4 with a detonator. Anything else, I will find in your market. This is me being reasonable. You wrong me, and you might find your little city down in the ocean come my return..."
“Addiction!” Romeo rose, pointing at the thief with a stern look.
“Grenades and a rifle repair kit, some explosive charges and stuff. Well, I can tell you that the Med-X is not within reason. We can cure you of your addiction however and save you the trouble. Maybe offer some as a reward for jobs well done later down the line. Sound good?”
"You will make it within reason Capt- Chief! Or you will never see me, or the prize you seek ever again! Gear... or not..."
Grimacing Charger calculated while shaking his head as if denying that he would even consider bowing down for such demands.
“I am sure Romeo here can figure something out. You might find that the hospital we want to send you towards contain quantities of what you seek.”
"Would said doctor want to be blown to bits just because I cant keep a steady hoof?! Tell me Romeo Is your life worth more than 2,237 caps?! ...30 Med-X or we might all go to pieces in more way than one way..."
Romeo pulled out a sugar-bomb from his pocket before leaning towards Wire from his side of the table. The doctor`s expression carried with it some form of serious undertone even if he suckled on candy. “The way I see it. I need to know when the last time you where clean from that drug was. I have my own stash of Med-X. A Ministry of Peace box with four rows of eight. To not waste it I would still want to flush your system first.”
“Don’t talk down to me... don’t ever talk down to me with that silver tongue... I was never clean... I’ve always been on it. But if it means you will allow me to take it on this quest... I will... I will undergo your treatment doctor.”
Charger on the other hoof had no interest in their little agreement. “Escort him back and fetch the mare. Your gear will be stored with me for the duration of your stay.” The Pegasus pony waved a hoof, dismissing the meeting.
“I look forward to our next meeting Wire!” Romeo said before returning to admire the Pipbuck. “Now if I can only find the button that turns on the radio.”
The door opened again and a fairly unique mare entered. She still reeked of fire and brimstone, hopefully this would not end up in the entire room being lit ablaze. The guards where a tad extra careful with what they did so as to not piss her off.
“Please have a seat.”
“Hey, not so damn loud.” She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. “Ugh, that is one hell of a hangover.”
Charger opened his mouth and was about to speak before she put up a hoof and stopped him.
“And before you say anything, where the fuck is my lighter?”
“Its with the rest of your gear. Now can we get this show moving? The sooner you cooperate the sooner you get everything back right?” Charger retorted with ease.
“Oh hello! I recognise you from the bar. Never got your name.” Romeo exclaimed before biting down on a levitating sugar-bomb he had brought up from his coat.
“Scorch. My name’s Scorch.” She shifted her gaze from Romeo to Charger. “Just get to the point already, the sooner I get my stuff back the less likely you are to lose some hair.” She sounded, and looked, very grumpy. She was obviously not a morning pony.
“Well, well, well. It looks like we both wish to keep this brief. Nice. I am Chief Charger, representing the City council and I lead its security. You started a bar brawl, and we do not tolerate troublemakers.
“The way we solve this is that you agree to team up with two other troublemakers and go on a mission for us. There will be a substantial reward of your choosing. You will get to do some last minute shopping and you get excused for your little outburst.”
“As long as I get my gear back, I’ll do whatever the hell you want.”
“Sounds reasonable, just refrain from discharging fire of any kind inside Friendship City. You will be escorted by Ensign Raisin here, he knows where your gear is. Please do not try to run away from your individual Security escorts.”
“Welcome to the team. Ill be your navigator and personal doctor. You can call me Romeo or Doctor or invent your own nickname, Ill be fine either way.” Romeo mumbled, gleefully fiddling with his newly acquired Pipbuck. “Gonna need help attaching this properly to my foreleg and cure your other teammate of his addiction to Med-X before we take our leave.”
“A little advice for your boys, they touch me and I am not accountable for what happens to them.”
“Great, find ensign Raisin. Escort them out and then about. They can go do some last minute shopping but first the thief will spend some time in Detox. Let me remind you to not run from your escorts, we have Ministry cameras in abundance to trace all movement in friendship city and should you abandon the mission we will put a bounty on your head. Oh, and have a GREAT DAY!” Then the Charger vanished out the door.
“Have a seat.”
Romeo nickered towards the large table, filled with different machines and muzzles. It was surprisingly clean compared with the rest of the room. Meanwhile he had picked up a small jar of green go. Looking at his pipbuck to see if it functioned properly.
“Welcome to my office by the way. It is not often I drag patients over here. They tend to prefer Bandaid for the more extensive treatments. Probably has to do with his nurses. They help uplift his image as an actual doctor considerably.”
“Look at my face, do I look like a pony that cares?” the thief seethed, the withdrawal starting to affect him badly.
“Do have a seat, Would you like a pillow on the hard steel? It tends to help with comfort during the initial procedure. Though you will hardly be awake for most of it. First time I treat a professional Med-X addict. They tend to die after a few years due to overdose or lack of supplies to keep them going.
Romeo began moving a few larger steel crates with his magic. Opening one the doctor levitated out another sugar bomb for himself to chew on. “Want one?”
“No, I heard that stuff could kill you... What else are you about to do, cause I’ve seen flushes before, they didn’t need all this fluff?” The thief looked nervous and took testing steps around the small office. Eyeing the machine suspiciously.
“We, wont be using everything. Goddesses no. Just the stability harness so your body wont trash about during the procedure and the third mouthpiece on the left for sedatives. You mentioned it before that your hooves are unstable, would you trust them with the handling of explosives after a Detox?” He snickered while suckling on his third sugar-bomb.
“Doc, when you are around the stuff I’m around on a daily basis, a little peace of mind makes all the difference. One little tremor and I can send this whole room to another area of the city... Could you live with that?”
“Oooh, so its more of a mental thing? Your hooves are fine but your mind is unstable? Do have a seat so we can get this over with.” Lost in thought he adjusted the white coat. “I can live with that, Question is rather. Could you? Do you want new hooves?”
“Oh you just happen to have some hooves lying about do you? Yeah slap em on. While your at it, make my eyes a lovely shade of green. And then you can make me normal pony sized while you at it... There’s nothing wrong with my taste in fine wine, and fine chems...” Wishing his words were daggers that could impale the doctor onto the wall like a trophy.
“Well, I think the green eyes can be done at a later date. You want the pillow?” Romeo levitated a small pink pillow for Wire to see. “Either that or cold steel.”
“Fuck you and your pillow! The sooner we get this done, the sooner I can go.”
“No pillow then.” The medical pony easily adjusted the harness to fit Wire`s smaller size levitating up the mouthpiece once everything was in order. “Just breathe normally into this, then you should be asleep in a matter of minutes. How about a story to pass time?”
“If you say once upon a time, I will come out of this thing and deck you...” The thief obeyed doctor`s orders but waited for a few moments in the hopes that Romeo would fall for such a simple provocation.
“In the wasteland there was once a travelling doctor. She travelled far and wide to cure the sick and help the old yet still managed to birth two foals. Two gifted brothers. Because a Doctor`s life is busy they were mostly left in the care of others but with age their curiosity grew. On a hunt for treasures of the old world the pair managed falling into a hole.”
His voice that usually held high speeds, smeared thick with overly cheerful enthusiasm slowed down significantly as if the door of emotion had packed its bags, leaving for the night. Lingering upon every other sentence with a monotone expression.
“More like a pit.”
“When the youngest rose from this terrible fall, catching his bearings back. Quickly finding that the older brother was lying there besides him. It was established to his best knowledge that he was still breathing and had a heartbeat..”
“Repeated attempts to wake the older brother failed, he stopped trying when the method`s used began bordering abuse. When he finally gathered his mind the youngest noticed how lucky he had been. He had fallen on softer ground, the other had met rock at every turn. Still inexperienced and not much of a unicorn the youngest had no chance at healing anything.”
“So he instead tried climbing the pit for help. Needless to say it was in vain.”
“He spent... weeks surviving in that place before a roaming hunter found him.”
The blonde buck had fallen asleep some time ago, with no no interest in the story adding effective sedatives hardly helped the situation. “The hardest part of the whole ordeal was sharing my brother...”
Wire finaly awoke some time later, the procedure having been finished.
“Right, be just a minute now and your new hooves should be attached properly. Bone setting is my speciality. Are you comfortable?”
“Mhat. Arf. Hou. Fo... Foimg.”
“Well I told you the machine is capable of more than one thing, this is at your own request if you do recall. The green eyes and extra size though requires more than I have available to me.” Romeo snickered and another sugar-bomb levitated into his mouth. “Want one?” He asked, removing the mouthpiece and untying the harness. “You are lucky. Had a spare set of hooves just your size. Hope you like white.”
Wire pulled his hooves forward. White, they were indeed a very pristine white. No words. No sarcasm, or silly jokes. Just a blank, dumbfounded face.
“The coldness will go away within a day or two. Sometimes takes a week but there should be no cognitive faults. Free of charge, Must say I am rather pleased with the result. A veritable charity factory. Lets get going, take some steps and try them out.” Romeo was very pleased with himself.
“...you.. you... I want to go... far away. Now.”
“Silly pony, you cant go far away. I’m the guide for your mission.” With that he washed his hooves and fetched his own saddlebags. They where white and yellow, bearing the MoP insignia of three butterflies.
“Got your box of Med-X for later. For now you should get used to moving around without. Doubt Scorch has the patience to wait for much longer. How are you doing? New hooves feel great don't they?”
“I... I need to go to the bathroom. But not here. Never here. No.”
“Suit yourself.” Impatiently Romeo trotted out the door. Stopping only for a second to smile cheerfully at Wire. “Lets get going then.”
Two Guards awaited them outside escorting both of them towards the marketplace, and a third soon joined them. Scorch had been allowed to fetch her gear, Romeo couldn't help imagine roasted ponies just by looking at the flamer battlesaddle.
“Time for some shopping. We are going to need supplies. You have any favourite foods?”
“Whiskey.” Scorch spoke up, her mind elsewhere.
“Die in a fire...” Wire said quietly.
“Okay, You both sure you don't have any preferences in solid foods? I would hate to buy meat only to find out that there are vegetarian`s is in our midst’s.”
“...” An eerie silence is all that comes out between the two trouble makers.
“Want one? Wont get any if you don't speak up.” Levitating up another sugar-bomb doctor Romeo asked Wire inquisitively, turning his head ever so slight with his cheerful twisted form of smiling.
“Let me see the box of Med-X.” The thief didn’t look like he had good intentions.
“Its on the bottom of my saddlebag and would take forever to dig out. Just take comfort in that as a Doctor. I always speak the truth.” He then ate the sugar-bomb that was intended for Wire. “If you don't want any, just say so.” Figuring the guardsmen might want to get this done with Romeo began tapping his hooves impatiently then began trotting forward but eventually halted. “Coming?”
“Yeah, I’m comin’, no need to be so pushy.” The yellow mare sounded off.
“Sorry, my mind tends to jump at things. Goes with being a doctor and all. I just prefer not to let my intellect wander and try to keep up with the pace it demands. Unless you want me to start telling stories, reminisce about past traumatising events, become annoyingly inquisitive, ask uncomfortable things. Most ponies tend to start shying away or grow resentful eventually. I do have to say this entire event is rather uncomfortable given the circumstances of our sudden union and i tend to become quite talkative when I am uncomfortable. Life is really such an amazing thing and I would prefer to keep it that way.”
Romeo finally stopped his ramblings, taking a sip of his canteen.
“Before you spew out your life story, do you ever just shut up?” Scorch stated
“You know what doc, you’re right! Wow life seams so amazing! I’ve got a grand idea, how about you go and buy all the boxes of those sugar ball fun fucks or whatever, and meet us back here in an hour, then we can all get off on the right hoof. Come on... yellow pony lady.” A look of genuine pleasure across his face.
“I think I saw a few boxes of those things back by that mare with the little stall.” The pyro pony spouted.
“Our group will need solid foods for the journey, the mission is probably going to take weeks and so we will need to split it up, then ration it. Do you two have spare room for some in your saddlebags? Medical supplies tend to take space.”
“Nope, that’s reserved for the booze.”
“Um... I have... tons! Tons of room for things.” The newly exuberant thief exclaimed.
“Great. Then I will take with me one of these security fellows to help me gather some foodstuffs that you will in turn put inside your saddlebags. So don't fill them up with too much stuff, OK?” Romeo for a moment there intruded on Wire`s personal space. His overly optimistic face uncomfortably close and their eyes locked in conflict to see who would look away first.
“Sure thing buddy!” putting one of his terribly transformed forehooves on Romeo cheek, guiding it away. “You can count on me! Go team!” With that said the thief began meandering down the hallway, still completely enraged by the whole ordeal but hiding it well.
Romeo watched his patient go, wondering what had gotten into the foal. Clearly his intrusions on the bucks sanity and life was not quite turning out how he had expected. “Sure thing.” was his thoughtful reply, copying Wire`s words while wondering what had brought about the change in behaviour.
Oats would have to suffice for main diet. Romeo would need space to make room for outdoor herbs, weeks in the field meant you would eventually run out of supplies. Hopefully the pair would not moan at the time it would take gathering them if they found some.
Hopefully he had not just made Wire suicidal, hopefully everything would work out as he thought he knew they would. Hopefully they would not murder him as he slept.
“Uh, hey! Something interesting... over there...” Scorch ran off after Wire.
“So, what’d you do to piss off Security?” Scorch and Wire walked down the market, each had security pony acting as a watchdog.
"I just robbed from the rich to give to the poor. It just so happened that the poor was, in fact, me..."
They had been given an hour to peruse the shops for things that they wanted or requested from the city. The guards had been sent to make sure they stuck to the plan, and didn’t try to con the shops out of several hundred caps of merchandise.
“It’s nice to know I’m setting out to face Luna-knows-what with such a noble pony...” Scorch had decided that the mask may be a little excessive for the market, she didn’t want to scare the ponies she was buying from. Without her black dyed coat she doubted anypony would recognize her anyway.
“Indeed, but how did a mare like you end up with all these ruffians like us?” Wire spat, doing his worst imitation of the doctor that got them in this mess.
“I have sort of a nasty habit. You see, I like to pick fights, sometimes they don’t end so well for me. Only I got somethin’ that makes me a bit different than your common bar fighter, I like fire, a lot.” Scorch floated out her lighter and sparked it to life, watching the flame for a few moments before snapping it shut again.
“... fire, huh? You would have been real good pals with the mare in...” He stopped cold, like he had just solved a puzzle.
“Friends?” Scorch let out a laugh. “The day I make a real friend is the day radhogs fly.” Scorch chuckled to herself for a few moments. “What’s on your shopping list? Had your eye on any tasty treats, or you just lookin’ to pass the time before we get the boot?”
“I’ve got a list... but it’s just food and firearms around here. I need trinitrotoluene, but everyone here is flat out of it... and as for party favors... I’ve been forbid on doctors orders...” Wire grumbled quite loudly at the guard, whose response was to give him a stern look. “But before I got galavantin’ around this place, I need to use the facilities, where are they? Or should I go right here?”
“Trini-what now? Don’t you go speakin’ gibberish on me. I don’t want to be stuck with just Muscles and Brutus here for company.” Scorch waved a hoof at the security ponies, the one aptly called muscles glared back. “Ooh! Is that a liquor store? I’ll be right back.” On those words Scorch turned sharply and made a bee line for the little shop.
“Consarnit all! Will you follow her! If Security sees either one on their own, it’ll be our flanks.” Aptly named Muscles chased after scorch while Brutus was left with a small pony, with an apparently smaller bladder.
“Bathroom is right there, unless you want to shake it for me, you can wait here. If I try to escape, I’ll make sure to say you really tried your best to get me. Or you know, not try and be able to go in peace...” The guard looked at Wire with little laughter at the joke, but allowed him to go in on his own, deciding to show some mares how big and tough he was. Now that he’s occupied, time to get to work. Wire did a quick check of the room. One stall, and few sinks, and a broken mirror. Most importantly of all, nopony else.
It’s not right. How could somepony do this? I’ve done bad things before, terrible things, but none of it was worth this, was it? Now, there’s nothing in my bloodstream. No drugs in my system. And I feel. Terrible. My senses are numbed, I can’t read anyponies face, I can’t block out the noise. I can remember things... I can’t keep my damn hooves steady! Fuck! But, if it’s one thing I’ve learned... come with a back up plan.
Pulling a strip of metal off of a corner of the stall and placing it on the edge of the sink. He turned on the faucet to try and get some of the muck and grime off. It was now or never. He sat down on the damp and cold floor, and bent his rear leg about so that he could get a good look at his worn down horseshoe. He grasped the strip between his front hooves and tried to force it under the shoe, but it no use. His damn hooves were useless. Numb and shaky. Luna damn him. But there’s no time for this, gotta do this the brash way. He placed the corroded strip in his mouth, clenching his teeth tight. It was like chewing foil.
He jimmied the strip into place, and began to push it deeper between the shoe and his hoof. Normally this wouldn’t even make him flinch, he had a special tool for this and everything, but now it was all different. He was clean, nothing in his system to dull the pain, and with the metal jabbing into the soft tissue of his hoof.
The shoe began to loosen its death grip on his hoof, but the low quality nails were bending and not helping this process go any smoother. It’ll all be worth it, just a little more, you can do it. With a spurt of blood and a clang, the shoe finally fell to the ground. His teeth covered in rust and Celestia knows what, and his tongue nicked he picked up his prize.
Going to the sink and washing off the shoe, Wire began to tap it on the soft wood behind the broken mirror, each bit slowly working out a little divot in the shoe. Grasping it with his teeth, he pulled for all his might until the air tight seal was broken and the shoe reviled its true form, a hold out stash. One tube full of white powder. His own hoof made specialty. Powdered Med-X, enough to keep him near his normalcy, but no where near enough to pick a decent lock, or handle a sensitive bomb.
Opening the tube turned out to be a far harder ordeal than all of the previous tasks. He was not adjusting well to life with out chems. Every stab, bullet wound, broken bone, burn, stubbed hoof, and bruise he had ever had in his life decided now would be the time to remind him of pain. His ribs ached from where he didn’t have a doctor or potions to heal, had set wrong. His skin itched from nights sleep in his cell, on what could only be described as only ever being cleaned with pepper spray. His hooves, from years of running packages across burning sands, and jagged mountains. The world was screaming, every drip of water, beat of a hoof on the ground, creak of the building, all inside of his head. The pounding was relentless. His hooves, were lousy and uncoordinated, he couldn’t do this the safe way... He needed that powder. Now!
Finally just breaking it across his shoe, not even caring about the small shards of glass. He took whatever powder he could cradle between his forehooves and snorted it. But that wasn’t enough, it was taking to long to take effect. He moves most of the tube and get every spec he can see in his crazed rush for his cravings.
Suddenly it hit him. Hard. Like a train. Then, nothing. Everything was quiet again. His hooves were still. Something was wrong. Very wrong. He fell to his side, vomiting all the liquor from the night before. His eyes were pin pricks, and he had broken out in a cold sweat. Overdose. Overdose. Overdose. It was the only thing that could run through his mind. He couldn’t remember what it was like to be clean, not to have some little bit of the drug in his system. He never thought he would need to account for that. His breathing was shallow, his face and hooves felt like a million pins were being pushed into them. He couldn’t tell if he had a heartbeat, but it felt bad. The world was fading. I guess this is it, dead in a bathroom, high off my flank. He closed his eyes...
Fuck you wasteland, you think you can get me this easy! He kicked the wall behind him. Then again. He moved his legs violently as hard as he could. He felt the rush of blood though his veins. Rearing up, he slammed into the ground again. He felt something, and that was all he needed. He could breathe again, and he wasn’t dead. I would never give Romeo the satisfaction. He sat up, and looked around. Everything was amazing, like it had always been. He could focus, he had drive, he had... A horseshoe sticking out of his side. No pony would notice a few more wounds on him anyway. Time to get that back in.
He smashed the two sides together. It wouldn’t be useful for long, but long enough to get his supplies, gear, and forced companions. Then, get the hay out of dodge. He pressed his hind hoof to the shoe gingerly, just enough to get the nails in place. Then pulling it back, bucked the wall as hard as he could, driving it deep into its resting place. Had it not been for his shot of vitamin M, this would have been excruciating. For now, it would just hurt like a bitch. He wasn’t sure how long this had taken, but it was enough to make Brutis very, very belligerent. He threw some water over his face, wash of any evidence of his crime.
Exiting the bathroom, the world fell into place, like it was supposed to.
“What the fuck took you so long, sticky hooves?!”
“Sorry about that, but what ever they do to detox you, makes you piss for hours... wanna see?”
“Hurry up an purchase your stuff, so you can get the hell out of my mane.”
“Yes sir” Wire does his poorest attempt at a salute, sticking out his tongue.
“I was told you would be trouble. GIT, or ill smack you with my baton.”
I knew that baton all too well from last night. Three maybe four more snide remarks and that would be it.
Mostly everything on his list procured, he decided to go no where near the pranged meeting spot. Instead deciding to loaf around a “food court” or what ever they wanted to call two stand selling the exact same glop with a different taste. On his back was everything he would need. Some vials of many different explosive agents, a few sticks of dynamite, a broken detonator for his promised C4, and a canteen full of nitro glycerin. Hopefully nopony would be so foalish as to drink from it without his permission.
With Brutus thoroughly lost in his world of flank catching, and saddle chasing, Wire was given a much needed rest. Cuddling up to his gear, he decided to wait for anypony to give enough of a damn to hunt for him.
Whiskeys, vodkas, and beers oh my! Scorch thought to herself giddily as she picked up a bottle and examined it. This shop had a fine selection, she had not seen liquor of this quality in many years.
“Ten bottles.” A large sack of caps landed on the counter next to a stack of whiskey bottles.
“T-ten? Okay, miss, um...” The mousy shopkeeper paused, his eyes enlarged comically by his large glasses.
“Scorch. Say, you got any fire extinguishers?”
“Fire extinguishers? Um, no I’m afraid I don’t.” The shopkeeper said quietly.
“Oh well, take your caps.” Scorch dumped the required amount out onto the counter top and swept the mountain of bottles into her saddlebag.
Today is lookin’ to be a pretty good day. Scorch smiled wide as she took out one of the bottles. Mmmm...
The aroma was beautiful. Scorch tilted back her head as she took a long draft from the bottle. Oh sweet Celestia that is good.
“Want a drink?” Scorch shook the bottle in front of Muscles, a huge smile still plastered on her face.
Muscles looked at her with such a face that he have been could be confused with a brick.
“Just finish yer damn shopping so I can go home you crazy mare.”
“Alright then, more for me!” Scorch took another big drink from the bottle. She looked back at Muscles. “You know where I can buy a spark battery? Or even a fire extinguisher?” The smile still big as ever.
“I hear Wager has some odds and ends over in the Bumper Market, try there.”
“Excellent. Shall we?” Scorch said to the large security as she gestured slightly towards the glowing shop.
“Spark batteries?” Wager was unicorn mare, she darted around the shop, poking at the lights that had gone out and making sure the ones left on didn’t follow suit. “Don’t got any more of those, I just sold ‘em to some old coot. Don’t know what an old pony like that is doing with a dozen of those things, but he had the caps so I can’t complain.”
“Fire Extinguishers though, I think I’ve still got one or two in the back. Gimme a sec and I’ll check for ya.” Wager disappeared behind a curtain in the back of the shop. Several crashes, bangs and howls later, Wager returned laden with red fire extinguishers. “See? I knew I had some somewhere back there. That ought to do just fine.” The red canisters clanged a little as they bounced on the counter.
“How about detergent? Still got some of those? And yeast too, lots of yeast.” Scorch asked as she began to draw out her bag of caps.
A large thump sounded from the counter. Scorch looked up from her bag and her large smile grew to comical proportions. A mountain of detergent sat on the counter next to a smaller but equally impressive pile of yeast. Wager leaned out from around the heaping pile and smiled. “I’ve got plenty.”
Scorch couldn’t help but be impressed at the unicorn’s impressive stock. “Excellent!” Scorch nearly bounced in her excitement. “I’ll take six of each!” Scorch poured out the caps needed and gathered up her loot.
As she exited the shop, she looked back at the mare “I’ll have to come back and buy you a drink sometime.” Scorch said, and with a little wink she left.
Weighed down with the product of her expedition in the market, Scorch made her way back to the market entrance with a grumpy Muscles in tow.
“So Wire is the short guy’s name? Maybe he got stuck in the bathroom.” Scorch laughed a little at her own joke.
“Don't be silly, he is obviously trying to find ways to procure Med-X to feed his own addiction that i cured him off no less than a few hours ago. So i need to find him a present for staying clean so he can feel guilty about it later. What do you think he likes? I have no idea.” Doctor Romeo cheerfully replied, his voice a constant tone of happy just with different tunes now and then
“I should procure a happy birthday card because parties tend to cheer anypony up but that would mean i`d have to get streamers, balloons and invite his friends over too and i don't think he has any friends and that would mean It wouldn't be a party anymore. If i did any of that He might just grow resentful and kill me later in my sleep.”.
“Uh, party?” This pony’s a little weird. Maybe he’s just high or something. “If you’re doin’ a party you can’t forget the party poppers. Those things are awesome.”
Romeo looked over to the bag of oats floating by his sides. “I know what to get. Your security guard should have a radio. Ask him to fetch while i go get a card and something to write with..” Muscles quickly tried contacting his friend Brutus, easily getting a fix on their location. The doctor had begun writing on a Happy birthday card, the imagery had faded but it was still mostly intact. A variety of colors with Scootaloo from Red Racer in a cheerful pose.
“You do that Doc, I’m gonna go get Wire.” She began to move towards the food court when a hoof landed on her shoulder.
“Not without me you’re not.”
She shook off the hoof violently. “Then let’s go.” The cheeriness in her voice dropped slightly
Scorch trotted into the food court, spirits high and a little buzzed. There the thief sat, blissfully asleep on top of his haul from the market. “Aw, isn’t he just so adorable?” Scorch put on her best girly impression as she floated her bottle back into the saddlebag. “Hey, hey Wire, hey. Wake up.” Poking the blond pony in his sides repeatedly until the thief curled up tighter in a ball, grumbling,
“Go away Brutus, I said you’re not my type of stallion...”
Scorch was struck by an idea. Leaning down, she whispered into Wire’s ear “Oh, but you are so very much my type.” Doing her best to replicate the Security buck’s voice. He shot up, wide eye’d and fully awake.
“What the fu- Oh luna dammit, it’s you again... Let me guess... The parade is about to start?”
“Yep! and you’re leadin’ the marching band! We gotta go or you’ll miss it!” Scorch scooped his stuff up with magic, balancing the little bundle onto Wire`s back and began to push him hurriedly towards the market entrance.
“No! I want seven hundred more minutes! Come and get me when the world ends... again.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that, tight schedule and what-not.” As they passed another storefront, Scorch face hooved. “Dammit! I knew I forgot somethin’! You just wait right here, I’ll be back before you know it.” She darted into the store.
Moments later she returned with a can of black paint hanging from the handle in her mouth. Flipping open the saddlebag’s top, she turned her head and dropped the can into the now open bag. “See? What’d I tell you? Let’s keep moving, we don’t want to keep the good doctor waiting.”
“Are we... gonna throw paint on him? I like that idea... Let me mix in some-”
A loud pop was heard, and suddenly Wire was covered in streamers. The beat of drums from an audio file began playing. Levitating a plate containing three pieces of cake, Doctor Romeo appeared almost as if he had teleported between the two.
“I got a piece of cake right here, I hope it finds you well!
To kick a drug addiction makes me think you're really swell!
If you stay clear of Med-X I will help you celebrate!
The cake will be delicious, the festivities first-rate!
There will be games and dancing, Bob for apples, cut-a-rug!
And when the party's over we'll gather 'round for a group hug!
No need to bring any gifts, staying clean will be enough!
Celebration mean having fun with friends, not getting lots of stuff!
It won't be the same without the stuff, life is hard until it ends!
So please, oh please, just stay without and start to make some friends!”
“What the blueberry fuck was that?” Wire stated, shaking the bits of paper that landed on him off.
“I have no idea... hey look! Cake!”
“SURPRISE! Sorry that the card says happy birthday even if it might not be your birthday but i brought hats and a piece of cake for each of us.” Levitating the plate and the card Romeo put a small party hat on top of Wire`s head. The doctor was starting to tire but so far everything felt worth the effort. “Sorry if its uncomfortable sharing a single plate but we are both unicorns so it wont exactly matter.”
“But Doc, you’ll never guess what today is?” Wire said, a grin on his face.
“You can tell me after eating this piece of cake!” Romeo snickered eagerly waiting for the pair to actually try the cake. It was great cake, he had tested it himself, though the fruit was not exactly extravagant in nature there was still great cream and dough.
“Yeah... I’m trying to take care of this body now, I think I’ll pass...” His grin settling to a slight frown, his eyes growing tired once again.
“Hey, you can still tell me. Just thought it might be nicer to talk later when we are not celebrating.” Romeo rested the plate on a nearby table, Maybe if he showed them the cake was not dangerous they might try some. So he levitated out his own piece, taking bites while smiling gingerly.
“We really don’t have time for this... You do not want to travel at night out there... And I still don’t have my pack. So thanks for gettin’ me clean Doc, I’m really startin’ to see why all that Med-X was bad.”
“So expensive cake is suddenly bad because Med-X?“ Gulping down the rest of his own cake Doc Romeo mused over this while checking out the stuff Wire had brought. “Rehabilitating you will take FOREVEER.” he added as a joke to try and lighten the sudden inquisitive tone.
“I don’t take well to sugar, but thanks for the amazing party.” A look of pain growing on his face.
“You gonna eat that?” Scorch eyed Wire’s slice of cake, a few crumbs still stuck to her muzzle.
“Have at it... uh... um... Yellow? Firemare? Uh... Who are you again? I don’t remember you name.”
“The name’s Scorch.” She said, not wasting any time in devouring the cake.
“Ah, well it sure is a... thing to meet you.” Wire feigning the most pathetic of smiles.
“So lets go get your stuff! Isn't this exiting? are you exited? because i am exited! I haven't been this exited since. Want to hear a story while we walk?”
“Nope. We are we off to first oh keeper of the map?” Scorch looked up from the freshly devoured cake and wiped her muzzle.
Romeo bounced forward, chewing on another sugar bomb. “Well, poor Wire here still has his stuff locked up so that`s first. Then we meet up with Charger at the exit out towards the wastelands and leave. It is really simple, don't you think?”
“Good, the sooner we get my gear, and the sooner we get this done... the better,” tiring from the weight of the poorly placed mound on his back.
“Then what are we waiting for?” She stood and slowly wandered to the market’s exit. ”Time’s a wastin’.”
“It is not like i see anyone else more qualified out of the three of us. Lets go Everypony!”
Front hooves sliding on a piece of cardboard the doctor nearly stumbled but clumsily reclaimed control over gravity. Laughing it off the unicorn began dragging one of the security ponies up front to lead the way.
“You lot sure spent a lot of time shopping.” Charger commented as the three ponies in questioned had finally meandered over to the bridge. “We have a really simple route for you lot to take. Just a day`s journey from here if you keep a decent pace.”
“This happened recently and it`s in your route. A caravan used shelter 102 for the night and sealed the door shut. A pack of ghouls are outside of it harassing them. We want you to get rid of those ghouls. Been bothering everypony for months now. Any questions?”
The bridge began swinging outwards so the party could cross. With a groan and a clank it settled in nicely.
“Then I can kiss this hell hole goodbye forever?” Wire stated, no longer looking at the Pegasus, but to the wastes.
“With all due respect to your preferences but, the wasteland ain't exactly what i would call summer vacation. This island may be a hell hole but at least it is our hell hole.” The Security Chief stomped a hoof in the ground with some semblance of pride before handing a relatively small black square to Romeo. The stealth-buck he had requested. “Good luck.”
“Yes, Good luck and sleep well. Have fun too, I most certainly will.” The doctor began trotting past Charger and the thief, aiming at a spot towards the left side so he could protect his patient, intending for Wire to stay in the middle.
“If you had any respect left in that body, you would have let me leave on my own, without this ridiculous entourage...” the thief's patience for the boastful guard growing thin.
“You'll probably end up thanking me at some point.”
“When All You Have is a Scalpel-...” 1 Rank Prerequisites: PER 6 INT 6 Medicine 45: You’re sick, you know that? Unfortunately, you’re also a damn good doctor-... even when the proper tools are conspicuously absent. Mending broken limbs with magic is 20% more effective and less taxing.
“Cannibal” 1 Rank: You eat other ponies. Naturally, most ponies react rather poorly to you... indulging your urges. There’s also that pesky “aberration of nature” aspect, too. Sometimes, though, sometimes giving in to the rush has its benefits. Consuming the flesh of another pony, while decidedly unhealthy for your digestive tract, reputation and sanity, results in a cascade of endorphins that provides a temporary 15 point bonus to HP and +2 STR. (Flashback Perk)
“Weakness Leaving the Body” Rank 1 (of 2) Prerequisites: Chem Reliant, END 5 Medicine 35: Holy shit! You can still stand after that? Wow. You must be a wizard or something. When under the effects of any type of painkiller, increase the efficacy of the ‘limb-damage ignore’ effect granted by them.
“Retardant Coat” 1 Rank Prerequisites: END 7 Explosives 35: At this point, brushes with fire have become a day-to-day facet of your existence. Burns are regularly treated and you know exactly how to deal with them. It’s all become remarkably... mundane. Fire-based effects deal 75% less damage and are 50% shorter in duration when applied to you.
All credits for the setting go to Kkat, author of the original story Fallout Equestria published on Equestria Daily. Please support the sidefic authors that continue to explore her universe: FO:E sidefic author homebase Gdoc.
Story is coauthored by Volk, Redundant and Damhoof.
Big hugs to DamnfoolBrony author of "Kiss Equestria Goodbye."
The wind breezed right through his finely combed grey hair. And not long after the doctor felt a shiver down his spine, he wondered. Had the wasteland always been this cold? Or had the years spent inside Friendship City desensitized him from the apocalyptic outside?
He looked towards the constant cloud cover stretching itself over them. “Well, here we are.”
“Ain’t no sense in standin’ around, giddy up! Let’s get moving!” The mare then pulled out a bottle of whiskey. She took a large swig before starting her way across the metal bridge.
“Yes, I want to put as much distance as I can between me and this place.” The thief muttered while wrapping a cloth around his forehead. The breeze from the ocean hit them from behind and felt like a broken radio in Romeo`s head.
“Stable 51” it whispered to him while a vivid imagination began rebuilding the city on the other side of the bridge towards its prewar glory. Watching the skyscrapers being built by an army of invisible workers that did not even exist.
He was impressed that even after years of staying in the city such power still lingered in the area and had he been a lesser buck the doctor might have just stayed here looking at the magnificent view forming. Instead, he just laughed at the theory and lacking anything to say about with his reluctant partners the radio button was flickered on.
“I don't want to set the world on fire
I just want to start a flame in your heart
In my heart, I have but one desire
And that one is you
No other will do.
That was Sapphire shores reminding us all that caring for some pony might lead to setting the world on fire. It’s news-time children! Now perk up your ears and listen to what DJ P0N-3 has to say.
Remember when you’re out there in the wastes. It is always nicer to have somepony watching your back than to have no friends at all. That way you stand twice the chance out here in the Equestrian wastes and the occasional slip up won't be as deadly.
“We’ll never be able to hear an ambush if you keep that crap on.” The small framed thief spoke softly and kept his eyes at the little screen on the doctors leg.
“If we heard one it wouldn't be much of an ambush.” The blonde buck did have a point. “That better?”
Wire just rolled his eyes at crimson buck. “Where are we going exactly?”
Romeo pointed his pipbuck hoof towards South, East. “Got a large green arrow pointing that way.” He looked at the dilapidated structures and damaged roads. “Last I heard about the wasteland it had grown worse than it has ever been with no pony keeping the roads clean anymore, and that was about two years ago. I would love to hear about anything you have to say.” He dreaded the silence and was anxious. They would open up eventually. He just had to give them time and help them along.
“You get shot, or you get mauled by some Equestrian horror. That’s about it.”
That was not what I meant. He looked to the two ponies with disappointment. “I`ve met robots that talked more than you.” He grabbed a sugar-bomb, mulling over the lack of discussion that loomed over the horizon. “I`m positively thrilled over getting to know the both of you better.” The doctor replied to himself with sarcasm.
“It’s not as if we will be seeing much of each other once this job is over.” The thief finally spoke up.
He did not know where the medical part started and his personal interest ended, but he knew there was reasons the thief did what he did. Those reasons would be required to cure his addiction, and he was going to eliminate it.
"How are you feeling Wire? I don’t get to meet many of your kind.”
“My kind? Do you mean other ponies? I can see why.” The thief gave doc a quick look over, followed by rolling his eyes. “I’m, uh, It’s tough to go around, and I’m uh, sore. But I’m better? Yes, better without the stuff.”
“We should really have a diary for this but. We can make do with talking about it. How about you Scorch? Would you care to join in? A bottle-cap for your thought`s” The doctor cooed and then returned to keeping his eye on the buildings they passed by.
“I’m just glad to have a job again, it was rather boring in that big-ass tin can they call a city.” She seemed rather distant, as though she wasn’t paying much attention.
“Really?” He could not help but sound surprised. “So what are you earning caps for? Can't all be about Booze and ammo right?”
“I’ve got nothin’ else to do, why not work?” She reached back into her saddlebag and pulled out a half empty bottle of whiskey. After taking a moment for a stiff drink she but the spirit back in her bag. “And besides, It’s not really work if it’s fun.”
“Well, that’s why you gotta make your own fun.” Wire started, “There’s count the crater, um, there’s see who can out run the bullet, and my favorite, the quiet game. I’m the wasteland champion. You look like the type who likes games doc, see if you can beat me.” It just sounded as if Wire had been leading a somewhat dark and private life.
“Mighty big talk for somepony with such a small standing.” Scorch added with a sly smile and then the mare turned so that the nozzle faced the thief.
“And yet, I’ve not cocked my launcher, or even moved for that matter. My gun is in its holster, and my grenades stay in their spots. For such a large pony, you’re not that intimidating.”
“I think you’re just afraid to lose.” Scorch shook her head in disappointment. “You’re no fun.”
“Of course, If you’re not having fun, I’m having a ball.” Wire chirped back, positively radiating happiness.
“I’m having fun alright. I have my whiskey,and I have my fire.” Scorch replied with a slight smile. “I said you’re no fun. There’s a difference.” She flipped down the visor of the welding mask, effectively ending the conversation.
“See It`s good to talk?” The doctor commented in an attempt to take the sting out of the conversation. This Scorch was significantly twigged, and he did not want to get hoofed in the face by the bulky mare. “You could have chosen a better topic, but I guess weapon talk is standard for ponies such as yourself. I just have a ten millimeter. Kept it maintained but haven't had to fire it in years.” It weighed in his pocket. The other magazines now loaded with bullets. This is your last resort boy, but often it`s their first. His fathers voice echoed.
“You are so gonna die out here.” Scorch said from behind the mask with a light chuckle.
“Well, Ponies are not supposed to turn to their guns and explosives for answers at the first or even second sign of trouble.” Romeo frowned at the sight of these two brutes now armed to their teeth with flamers and explosives. The two ponies were unquestionably prepared for indiscriminate slaughter.
Helluva thing killing another pony, to take away all they have done, and will ever do. Who am I to determine if you live or die? My only son left to walk the earth. Whatever you do from now on, bring your brother with you. The image of his father standing over him faded quickly, and he heard the thief speak out.
“Doc, I’d rather be over prepared, than at the mercy of somepony that isn’t gonna have any sympathy. I’m at peace with what I’ve done,” Wire raised an eyebrow at Romeo. “Can you say the same?”
“Well now.” He teased the subject in his head. Wanting to say and hear just about everything and anything with that investigative smile. “Just what would a pony such as yourself be at peace with? What drives such a peaceful pony to steal?”
“Oh? I can’t take all the mystery out of the romance.” He rolled his eyes as they continued further into the ruins.
“You`re such a tease.” The doctor giggled, leaping over some rubble in the road. "Why don't you tell me your story or why you use a flamer?” The doctor looked to Scorch with his sugary tones. Chirping playfully in the wasteland breeze.
“A part time bounty hunter just lookin’ for a job. Not much to tell.”
“Did you judge the rest of their lives worth in the caps you earned?” He chuckled and was filling his voice with an intentional sweetness, coating the air with a caramel tune while silently hating on the mare and her profession.
Scorch looked at him with indifference. “How many did you save that did deserve to die?”
"Now you are being silly. Everypony deserves to be brought into Celestia`s grace, to stand next to her as she raises the sun. To gallop across the great fields of a heavenly Equestria and eat as much alfalfa as their stomachs can bear.” He looked to Wire with his usual grin, and the thief looked back with concern in his eyes.
“Uh, why are you looking at me?”
“Seemed appropriate. Being rid of your addictions and all.” He assured the thief. “Don`t worry I have a 100% success rate at curing addicts.”
“I bet you count death as success.” The small framed buck rolled his eyes in a joking matter and then got a nod from Romeo in response.
“How marvelously perceptive of you. Just think of it like recycling." he continued, noting down the priceless expression on Wire`s face. "Even if you fail to remain clean, in the grand scheme of things, you will end up serving some greater purpose. I am such a clever pony.”
Wire looked rather disturbed back at the doctor. “How in the hay did you even talk your way into that place, let alone become a doctor?”
“What in the hay is that supposed to mean?” He was levitating around a sugar-bomb like an aggressive insect. Poking Wire in the forehead, and then back to himself, chewing on it. “My parents where both doctor's, the profession runs in the family and Friendship city greatly appreciates doctors. Especially those with extensive backgrounds like my own. I was just a tad more profit minded than they were comfortable with is all.”
“No wonder you’re such a lonely pony.”
“Got what I needed out of it.” He looked at the pipbuck now residing on his leg. “One step closer to where I need to be.”
“Eyup, death by Manticore or maybe Bloodwing." Scorch replied with a relatively hopeful cheerfulness.
Romeo looked at the fire-mare, so smug and sure of herself. “Ha, ha, ha, oh, hi, ha, ha. and here I thought my jokes were bad.”
“Just sayin` I’ve never seen one of those leg terminals on a living pony...”
“Yes, clearly those ponies wearing leg terminals have been targeted by aliens and are now being experimented upon. We are all connected to the Stable hub. Would be easy to track anypony wearing it down if you know what you are doing.” He laughed at that, to prove it was actually a joke. “With this i can see everypony friendly, neutral and hostile that get's near me and slow down time to a trickle while carefully aiming my shot`s. It`s nothing short of Invincibility.”
“I`d still manage to smack you.” The thief retorted while radiating a smidgen of hostility.
Because I`d let you. “Now would that feel good? I certainly feel great.” He smiled back at the two ponies.
“You’re not gonna be this cheery the whole time right?” The thief sighed with resentment.
The doctor got closer to Wire, avoiding a towering pile of rubble on his side of the road. “Are you gonna be like that for the rest of the trip?” He intruded on the thief`s personal space with sugar in his voice. “All you have to do is flex those cheek muscles and the world becomes a little more colorful.”
Wire stared at him walleyed, as if made of stone, and just as responsive.
“Booring.” Romeo exclaimed, being no less than a few inches from the thief`s face feeling tempted to remodel it. “Talk about sour lemons. You’re just doing this to antagonise me.”
“I’ll smile when I’m happy. You’re not on my list of things that cause that.”
"Does this mean that? You wont love me anymore?” The doctor pouted and sniffed, faking that he had been hurt and was now crying. “I`m so alone and desperate for company. I don't think I could handle this kind of blunt rejection. I might just start baking cupcakes.”
“I... I don’t even know what to make of you.” Wire rolled his eyes a bit, a faux smile on his face, “This better?” He said though his teeth.
“Wonderful. Ha, ha, ha.” The doctor bounced on, obviously satisfied. “I know, we can tell jokes! That is sure to help. What did the cheese say to the sour milk?”
“They can’t talk.”
“Imagine if they could talk then.” Wide eyed the doctor giggled on.
“I don’t want to. Don’t you have any jokes that aren't for foals?”
“Err, no.” He looked to the blonde pony with a gaze of sadness. “Don`t worry, we can fix you yet. I heard there was a clinic up at Shattered Hoof before the bombs. Probably some salvage there that can muddle away the worst and release your inner child again.”
“Hey! I agreed to do your detox, you agreed to help moderate my intake.. I didn’t agree to anything else...” He replied with an angry kind of desperation simply proving that a line had been stepped over.
“You barely smile, wont even eat candy or cake. Nor did you seem very phased as I poured streamers on you or gave you the happy get clean card. This is becoming more and more like one of those advanced conditions. You probably wont even pin the tail on the pony.”
“I’m too damn old to be doing little foal stuff.” Wire angrily shoved the doctor away.
“Your awfully small for such an old pony. Maybe you stopped growing because you tried to be a grownup when you were little.” The doctor replied in an energetic and over the top manner while Wire simply brushed it off.
“Looks are deceiving.”
“Riiiight.” Romeo blew raspberries at the thief while looking devilishly smug. A store crept up on them from the horizon. “Maybe these buildings have something of value in them.”
“Not a fan of coffee, or doughnuts.” Wire blurted out from the silent streets.
“Canned food then? This here is a grocery store.” He pointed a hoof at the giant now fallen Storesign. “Home to many things we might need. Right?”
The structure towered over them in an intimidating fashion. It`s revolving doors greeted them. The remaining glass that had not been utterly destroyed could be compared with the teeth of a gaping mouth. Romeo felt tempted to use his magic and restore it in his minds eye. This monster of a building designed to consume hundreds of ponies daily would no doubt look stunning there.
The Immediate inside held dispensers of various goods. Sparkle Cola, Sunrise Sarsaparilla and a ministry of morale candy dispenser. Lining the walls where posters, they were charred and rotten. Worn down by time itself.
“This seems like a bad idea oh, faithful leader.” Wire said as he looked in a crumpled trash can.
“Stop me then.” The doctor used his magic to light their way. Waving his head around in a peculiar style that made the light dance around in an erratic manner. It was easy to imagine how it had been before the bombs. Daily a vast herd of ponies would come. Travelling on the black and white tiles while plucking food and other miscellaneous items they would need for the week.
“The first prewar building I have entered in years, and it is amazing. Like a great big mausoleum.” Romeo kicked up some dust as he ventured on into the belly of the beast.
“Has anypony ever told you that you’re crazy?” Scorch called out from behind a register.
“Crazy? what a silly question.” The doctor was now checking the rows for anything worth picking up, but there was nothing.
“Quit sightseeing and loot, the less time we spend in here the better.” Another register popped open with a ding. “Damn, looks like somepony else got here first.”
“Looks like a lot of somepony got here first.” Wire said as he closed another empty box. “I’m gonna check that back room. Always something locked in a backroom.” He started to make his way deeper in the store.
“Hello! anypony home?” Romeo shouted but got no immediate reply. He then decided trotting after Wire would be the best idea. The thief seemed to have an instinct for finding things. “Ponies have had centuries to loot this place to the ground.” He kicked an empty and rusted tin with resignation in his voice.
“And all of them are thwarted by a simple lock. All I have to do is open it.” He looked up at a door and blew the dust from a sign. It was marked with `employees only and then the thief pushed a hoof on the handle, it didn’t budge. “Ding ding ding, we have a winner.”
“Really? Now this I gotta see.” Romeo positioned himself to study, resting on his haunches, so he would not get in the way.
The thief sent him a strange look. “I uh, get stage fright. Could you turn around for a minute.”
“What? Why?” Did Wire have something to hide? Now he was curious and suspicious on top of being bored. “Is it your special lock breaking a super awesome secret? I promise not to tell.”
“You have trade secrets you don’t want any of those to get out I assume. So do I. Just, turn your head for a minute, and uh, I’ll do this.”
“Fine, but I really don't see how lock breaking should be such a big secret that nopony should see.” He turned his head looking towards the exit for a moment.
Romeo could make out the sounds of rummaging from where the thief was, then the sound of a sigh of relief. Then there was a clatter of tools followed by a door being opened. Then the air was electrified with a combination of curiosity and anticipation. “Ladies first.”
“Thank you. Never expected such a gentlecolt out here in the wasteland.” the doctor chirped in an effeminate theme and what greeted him was a little locker-room with benches. In the end of it, there was an employee recreation hall. He lifted up a pretty intact magazine lying on one of the benches. Dusting off centuries of dust to reveal the pictures of two Zebra`s fighting each other. Martial Arts of the Zebra. “Nice.”
“Anything good?” His face buried deep in a locker.
“Just a magazine. You?” Romeo gently put it into his saddlebag after making sure it was mostly readable and then he began checking the nearest locker`s as Wire had done. His only acquisition was a half eaten prewar sugar-bomb taunting him. Ha! as if he would agree.
“A baton, some caps, and some prewar paper bonds. And a dress.” He looked in the locker a little while longer. “Nothing at all.”
“Can I have the dress?” He looked at Wire, letting the request sink in before breaking into a smile. “For make-shift bandages in case we run out.”
“I bet it is. You just want to dress up like a pretty little filly.” With his forehooves planted firmly on his cheeks Wire began making kissing faces, but Romeo just smiled as he took hold of the dress with his telekinesis.
“I`d have to say light blue is probably not my color. It would suit you a lot better.” He then easily sorted it down towards the bottom of his saddlebag. “You are such a pretty little filly.” With the joke said and done he browsed trough another closet. Finding some spare ammo for his pistol.
“Hardy, har, har.” The thief went back to his own business and continued looking into the other lockers. Bored of finding nothing of significant value Romeo headed on into the recreational room. He surveyed a pool board and scattered a set of racked billiard balls. A packet of cigarettes lay on the side table along with pool cues, but he simply refused to pick it up.
Wire perked up from his looting and looked at Scorch. “Hey, where did you find that?” He was fixated on the bottle.
“Found it in the garbage of all places, cap still sealed and everythin’.” She tilted her head back for another drink. “Pretty lucky huh?”
“But, I looked in all the cans over there. All I found was paper weights and empty bottles.”
“If you're so desperate then here.” Scorch offered the half empty bottle to Wire. “Finish ‘er off.”
Wire grabbed the bottle, “Thanks, I’ll owe you one later.” He sucked down the contents in a flash. Then let out a satisfied breath. Scorch on the other hoof trotted to the office door and shoved it open with a forceful hoof. Revealing a relatively small managers office with its own wooden desk and tons of filing cabinets.
“Uh huh.” Wire began to open the desk drawers, pushing papers about.
“Feel like pickin’ another lock?” The fire-mare called from the corner, staring down at a little black safe. “Force doesn’t really work on these.”
“It’s my specialty,” Wire sported a boastful grin on his face, making his way to the little safe and then professionally set about unlocking it.
“Holler when you’re finished.” She began pulling books off a little bookcase in the opposite corner.
After a few minutes, the small framed pony stepped aside and swung open the safe door, “Looks like it’s never bee- Oh, would you look at that.” Wire reached into it and started moving things.
“What’s in it?” She dropped a book on the floor, along with a small assembly of other book`s from the same shelf that had failed to peak her interest. Romeo sneakily levitated them to himself. They had title`s such as The black stallion, A storm of flowers, Paradise, Almost heaven and Dream a dream. Taking a quick look at the synopsis at the back of the books they appeared to be about love and romance.
While it was clear, that Scorch did not read these kinds of books. Romeo would easily stoop to their level of sappy, predictable plots. He did not have a single book in his collection and rarely had any occasion to do anything with his reading or writing and so under the pretence of levitating them back where they belonged he hid a couple in his saddlebags.
“One of these.” Wire held in his hooves a small, beaten, and sad looking magical energy pistol.
“Sparkle cola for a crappy energy pistol?” She pleaded with Wire and made a poor attempt at puppy dog eyes.
“Hmm,” The thief rubbed his chin with one hoof and began balancing the pistol on the other. He then dug his face in his pack and pulled out a cigarette. “Throw in a light, and you’ve got yourself a trade.”
“Deal.” A worn and dented lighter floated from Scorch’s bag. She sparked it to life and lit Wire’s cigarette with surprisingly gentle and precise moves. “I’m taking that pistol now.” Scorch held out her hoof expectantly.
“Deal.” A worn and dented lighter floated from Scorch’s bag. She sparked it to life and lit Wire’s cigarette with surprisingly gentle and precise moves. “I’m taking that pistol.” She held out a hoof.
Wire took a long drag, “Yeah, that’s the ticket.” The thief looked at the pistol and nonchalantly tossed it at her. “Never was a fan of those things, always burns up whatever you shot at. Can’t pick clean anything that’s disintegrated.”
“Thanks.” She stuffed the lighter and pistol in her bag. “Any other goodies in there?”
“Wanna read somepony’s journal from twenty decades ago? There is also this thing. "No clue what it is.” It was a small disk shaped object with what look like a miniature satellite array and several wires poking out of the side. “I’ll uh, just hold on to it for scraps I guess.” Wire quickly put in his pack without giving her a chance to look closer.
“I think I’ll take a look at that diary. I’m bored and whoever owned this office had a bad taste in books.” The mare began stretching in a bored manner and moaned in a comfortable, sleepy manner.
“Didn’t take you as the scholarly sort.” Wire closed the safe and locked it back with the spin of the dial.
Wire took a look at the diary and then back at Scorch. “Grab it with your magic then, I’m not a fan of the past anyway.” The thief then headed towards the door once the book was out of his grasp. Romeo could not help but cough as the cloud of smoke vanished out.
The mare and the doctor shared a few precious moments of silence and then Scorch followed Wire with a displeased look on her face. “This pony was an idiot.” She stated before tossing the diary away. “You’d think they’d have at least somethin’ interesting to say.”
“What, manager of a prewar grocery store not exciting enough for you?” The thief shouted from outside of the room and then laughed heartedly.
“What did he write about?” Romeo inquired, finally intervening in the conversation while curiously fetching it for himself.
“I think it was a she, and she wrote about her feelin’s and stuff. She wrote kind of badly too.” Scorch said before peaking into another locker.
“Ain`t that nice? She probably had nopony to talk with about her feelings and instead wrote them down.” He picked the book up, ruffling trough the pages until the last page with writing on it. “Looks like she forgot her book when the bombs fell. Her last entry is about some buck.”
“Whatever floats your boat Doc.” Scorch rolled her eyes at the doctor. Her feelings about the subject were pretty clear.
“You do not want this diary? Such a shame.” Romeo muttered back while closing the book and putting it in his bags. He opened a file cabinet shelf, revealing lots of paper tracking earnings and goods. Not much to use. “The book still have a significant amount of pages left if you`re itching to write some Wire.”
“Who says I know how?”
“Not knowing how to write is a sin. So what do you say? Every time we camp I help you write a page, eh?” Romeo tossed the paper`s around now that the cabinet had been searched. The doctor looked up from the top drawer in triumph. “I even found some pencil`s.” There was a building silence and then the thief replied.
“Never needed know how to before, why start now?”
“Because you can? I`m offering to teach you Wire. Got plenty of paper, got the writing material for it and have you admitting to not knowing all in the same five minutes.” Just the prospect felt exiting. It felt right. The blonde small framed thief would surely appreciate it in the end. “Destiny is at foot here my friend. Stars aligned, and the universe gathered together to give us these tools within the few moments after it took you to admit not knowing how to read.” Romeo hoped that the thief would not be able to refuse. "One page a night sounds just about right.
With that as his reason the doctor began rummaging through more cabinets. Then he found something glass and liquid. A relatively large and brown colored glass flask. Engraved with the word Apple on the side. He opened the bottle with ease. Magically twisting the cork until it let go with an audible bomph.
“Looks as if she had a little something extra.” The doctor sniffed, taking in the scent of age old alcohol. It stung his nose faintly. “I could use this for disinfection." he muttered while picking up the cork.
“Anypony want this box of cake?” Scorch yelled from somewhere out in the store.
“Are they eatable? Tasty?” The doctor yelled in return with the bottle at hand. He had figured this was just another stroke of luck. Romeo had plenty of sugar bombs left, but some diversity might be beneficial.
“They haven`t ever been opened.” Scorch voice stopped, and there was a moment of silence. “They smell okay.”
“Yea well. I think I might want them.” The doctor trotted out towards Scorch, wanting a bite himself. Already he could taste the lemon frosting and fruity crispiness.
“Got anything tasty in return?” The mare asked him with a look of indifference. Levitating a little box that had a faded cover, the sides slightly crumpled but still mostly intact.
“This?" Romeo presented the almost full bottle of alcohol and figuring she might want it decided to try a little barter. "Though it really is a bum trade, vintage stuff for some century old cake.” He gave her an honest face with a more sophisticated and reserved smile. "This simply will not do, but you probably have something you could add to make this trade even?”
“Not unless you like yeast or soap.” Was she taunting him?
“What?” He sent the bottle her way in a tempting manner. “Nothing at all? How about a moment of your time? How about you write something in the diary?” He sent some suggestions her way, teasing her with the bottle.
“I guess you don’t want the cakes then.” Scorch pulled open the flap of her bag and put the box on top of her stash. “These might make a good snack later.”
“I guess you dont want this bottle of apple whiskey then.” He withdrew the bottle and hid it in his bags once more, looking at Scorch expectantly.
“I already got Apple whiskey in my bags, no loss to me.” She said with a shrug.
“I have candy, no loss for me either.” He copied her shrug and began walking back towards Wire in defeat. “Did the office desk contain anything? Other than the neat desk itself of course. Fine craftsmanship, made by expert hooves.” Romeo stretched, using the desk as support for his forelegs. Hooves clopped neatly against ancient and sturdy wood.
The thief looked at him for a moment with a glowing cigarette in his mouth. Pumping smoke out of his nose. “Don`t rightly know, I was more focused on the safe.”
“Really now?" Romeo looked to the thief lazily, chewing on his failed barter with Scorch, but it was okay. He didn't need cakes. He had Sugar-bombs. The whole thing was just a matter of patience. Wait for her to run out of alcohol and then the value of his bottle of apple whiskey would increase. "Did you find something interesting? Another dress?”
The thief shuffled his hooves and looked towards the roof. Then he breathed out circle shaped smoke clouds. “Random junk and a magical energy pistol. She’s got it now.”
“You traded an energy pistol and some junk? For what?” The doctor felt annoyed at that. Not only had he failed to barter, but Wire had apparently traded to him something considerably valuable.
“Some cola and a light.” Emphasizing the smoke he had gotten lighted by Scorch the thief directed his smoke at Romeo.
“The fu.-” He managed to utter before coughing repeatedly. Romeo retreated while wiping his eyes and blinking profusely. “You traded a cola and some light for a pistol? The pistol was worth thrice what you got in return.”
A thunderous crash sounded from the front of the store, followed by the sounds of shifting cardboard. “Sorry, my bad.” Scorch yelled after a few moments of rustling.
“Can’t help it if I have no value for it.” The thief shook his head and rolled his smoke around. Wire then dumped ash on the fairly old but still formidable desk. The act coupled with the sentences was triggering Romeo`s annoyance meter in a fairly basic way.
“What? You know Wire. I expected that, as a thief that has been addicted to Med-X in years, you would have a basic grasp on money.” Romeo coughs again still somewhat affected by the smoke.
“Why don’t you go find out what shes up to then? If your such a master trader, you convince her that she robbed me.” The thief giggled while taking another large drag from his cigarette and then later formed it into a circle of smoke.
“I just came from there, and Scorch can keep her cakes until she is desperate for trading them.” He lifted up the bottle of alcohol. “Unless of course you would let her rip you off for the cakes and then trade them to me for some paper.” Romeo stretched his tongue out in a teasing manner.
“At least I’ve got charisma, unlike you.” Wire tossed the smoke in the garbage can, leaving Romeo alone in the room, and the doctor had no reason to follow yet. In fact, one of the two silly ponies he was travelling with would have to appear with the intent of dragging him out.
The sour attempt at bartering with Scorch and the thief being this oblivious to value was striking some angry chords that he had best abandon.
To do so Doctor Romeo whipped out the old diary Scorch had found. Reading from the daily thoughts and happenings in this Ministry of Morale standard issue diary. Her name was Evergreen Shine. It was written here in pristine condition, and now he was holding the one part that had survived the war.
Thinking of it as the last bit of her life made him feel privileged and noteworthy. If found return to owner at 34th Street. His pipbuck lit up, revealing a new quest to return the diary.
Dear Diary I found you in my husbands luggage after he settled back in. He said it was supposedly meant for himself but he and the few others who left the Equestrian army when their enlistment period ended had all decided not to write anything. He was particularly insistent, says he wants a third child that he can help raise properly and already talking about starting a construction firm with some of the others. I am happy to have him back, but he has indeed changed.
Dear Diary, it’s been a while I guess. Seems silly that I would want to write in you, it’s just been terribly stressful at work, and my husband has been distant at times. I might as well do something with this book besides letting it collect dust. In other news, the store is now under my control. Key finally retired and well. It’s just been a lot of work, but in the end what extra money is earned will help now with another foal on the way. Daddy wants a colt, but I would honestly like another little filly to spoil.
What was he thinking? Vine`s brought home the biggest gun I have ever seen. I know they handed a lot of guns out to government workers and even tried to cut our store some sort of deal, but we cant afford it. Most of the boys that work shifts here are carrying guns, but this one was longer and looked mighty expensive. Apparently one of his retirement friends had decided to gift each of his buddies with one. What's worse is the gun is named after Macintosh. The pony who saved the princess from that horrible zebra assassination attempt. He looked like such a lovely stallion in the paper and now his name is branded on the stuff that will be killing other ponies. It `s a damn shame that is. Well I told him. I didnt want him showing it off to other ponies or wave it around the house when we have a foal coming so we locked it in the safe. I set the password to be the name of our daughter. I want her to have a pretty name. Emerald.
The doctor looked up from the diary content and ready to tell the crew they would be heading to this 34th Street. “Wire? Scorch?” Romeo perked his ears to the sound of nothing, and that itself felt disturbing.
“Anypony?” He asked loudly, but there was no response. He checked the outside of the office, but there was nopony there.
His unlikely allies had vanished. He had feared they would kill him during the night, but instead the pair had just abandoned him.
“Anypony here?” No answer still and then a terrible sense of loneliness began clawing at him from the shadows. No, no I am not alone. They are just outside waiting or hiding somewhere around the corner just to scare me, and don't you dare to fall for these simple tricks.
“It`s not funny you guys!” Romeo shouted inside the mausoleum, and all he could listen in on was his own voice as it echoed from the walls. This was quite the pickle, but nothing to fret about yet. “Guys?”
How could they just abandon him? Had he said something offensive? Was it something about him that smelled? Should he have faked some sort of wasteland suaveness?
“Fine. You two be that way.” the crimson buck told the road as he looked at the new quest arrow guiding him to Evergreen`s home. The grey world and its larger buildings felt a great deal more intimidating now that he was walking alone. With nopony to keep his mind from sidetracking, the shadows had begun taking the shapes of monsters to the medical pony. “I can take care of myself.”
Guess they forgot who was the pony with the pipbuck. Here, he could see enemies approach miles ahead of time. Then he heard the high pitched screeching of several things not pony. He was a big pony, he could survive out here, in the waste`s. Being all alone would be no problem at all. “No problem.” Romeo laughed half heartily and then looked anxiously at his pipbuck. At least he had somewhere to go, the green arrow planted down firmly at a location with lines drawn towards a dot that was obviously him.
Evergreen did not live far from where he was, and so the doctor got a move on. Regardless of what condition her house would end up being at he just had to take that risk or slink back into the grocery store with nothing to show for it. Romeo walked in between two buildings in a tight corridor hearing nothing but the radio and his hooves against the cold pavement. He took it as proof that there was nothing around him.
Looking back, he saw nothing and in front there was just another grey and dull road. The building`s still had some amount of shadow and bathed the world around him in a darker tone than what he was accustomed too. No streetlights here, no sir and here he was wearing a signal white medical coat.
If I were a Bloodwing. I would be perched on top of a building, and snatch up any innocent pony that dared cross the roads at this hour. He stared at the buildings on the other side, looking up to the ever so dimming and grey skyline rolling up ahead. Romeo was getting cold, and the world was darkening rather quickly with each wasted minute. A part of him was happy for it. It thrived out here, and once before it had been a part of him.
“All you have to do it take a cup of flour. Add it to the mix.”
Casually he took a trying step forward, and then another. Then the doctor trotted across the road with no pause at all. Nothing.. “Now just take a little something sweet, not sour, a bit of salt, just a pinch” He muttered above the radio as DJ Pon-3 turned on another song by Sapphire shores. “Cupcakes so sweet and tasty.”
There was just this feeling in the air. Wire`s words thumping the front of his head like an unwelcome guest. Ambush? He felt the tension in his shoulders and then began easing it up by taking deep, and controlled breath`s. Definitely his body was anticipating something in that line. Just blinking made him yearn for a double take of the area behind his flanks. Especially now with the radio gone he could hear every little thing that made sounds nearby. Poor, addicted ponies, always so fragile and we would love for them to get better.
The wind was making him anxious. A gust of it just now made this old half wrecked metal dumpster clatter in front of him. The clatter once was rhythmic, and while it did disguise his own hoofsteps anything else close to him might be using it for that same purpose. Pretty soon I`ll start seeing things leap at me from the shadows. With his livid imagination it was obviously a possibility.
After looking at to the map again, the lonesome pony began looking nervously at the darkness creeping up from behind. As if it had been seen the darkness came fourth rushing like a predator, hounding his every hoofstep.
You cannot ignore us forever the shadows whispered. Whatever Romeo was staring into it was clearly intent on not leaving him alone like everypony else.
The shadows then began clawing at his mind. Forcing him to stare at the monster he had become, the monster he was. What he always would be. The doctor pulled out his scalpel. It`s silvery hue shining even in this darkness. “Get back in here, get back where you belong.”
Romeo was greeted with silence and backed into the building that was his destination. With a shriek of rust the doctor closed the door and fell to his haunches.
The doctor took his time now that he was in Evergreen Shine's home. The shadow`s and darkness were gone, replaced by the green glow of his pipbuck and with that glow he quickly found the house terminal. Inputting the password with ease and then a safe swung open. The part that was odd and stood out to him was that the terminal itself had no other features.
Maybe everything except its primary purpose had been deleted as the bombs had fallen? He was no expert and had no answers.
What met him was a giant revolver, well preserved in its chasing but not exactly oiled up and ready to shoot with. Fortunately he had a pretty full bottle of oil that he could use for the gun. What was depressing was the low amount of available cartridges. Lying next to the gun was just two packages of ammo.
The revolver had not been used at all, proving just how recent to the bombs falling that those last pages had been.
There was a small stack of prewar money too. Obviously this was their piggy bank, and there was box jewelry here too. Blue goes well with my dress, calls me his little princess. Random sentences from the diary began popping out of his head. I had this blue spring dress commissioned, normally I would never wear something with that color but with these earrings from Vine`s delightful grandmother I just have to give it a shot. It should arrive at the end of the week.
He remembered it from the office and pulled out the dress that Wire had found. “Oh Luna.” Was he being guided here by some prewar ghost? Besides the bed in one of the corners there was a ponysized mirror, still intact and present. Or at least relatively intact. He used his magic, dusting off the worst so he could see his own reflection. Levitating fourth the earrings and the dress with an inspecting attitude.
Spring heaven blue on his crimson red was not all that bad. The bottom part of his ears burned. He was no stranger to needlework and just pierced them with the golden earrings. They where shining in this relative darkness, like golden stars in the night sky.
Now that they were in place he just sort of, had to go all the way. His body felt laden with anticipation as the belt strap for his barding was unbuckled and levitated to the wayside with considerable care. With firm and gentle moves the buck began slipping into the prewar spring outfit.
After closer inspection he then began brushing to fix his mane, to be more in tune with the outfit.
The bright blue of the actual dress and the white from the under-dress was certainly bringing out the crimson of his fur and enhancing the grayness of his mane. With some work and the proper technique, he just might be able to make the mane shine in a more silvery hue, and genuinely do what he was wearing justice. Goddamn prewar ghosts and their insistence. Fine, he looked pretty, but this was the extent of how far he could push it.
Romeo hadn't come this way for accessory, but dressing up had changed all of that. He could feel a strong warmth surging from the inside of his chest at just looking at the pony that was inside the mirror. Most of the spare jewelery he had acquired was gorgeous. Unfortunately it did not fit with what he was already wearing. Maybe he could find something that matched later down the line.
It all made sense now. Judging from the writing, Shine had been an emotional and impatient mare. Obviously she had unpacked it, and tried the outfit out in the shop. Now decades later Romeo would come along, and start defiling it. He wasn't even a mare. He could never do these clothes justice and everypony would just harass him for wanting to wear these beautiful clothes.
The crimson princess sat down on the edge of the bed, stabilizing himself as guilt and a mournful sobbing swept everything away. Here he was. Completing a set of clothes meant for this mare decades ago. It was just depressing. Why had the zebra`s bombed everypony? Why had this mare not deserved to die in her best clothes? Why had he been the one to find this? His newly pierced ears burned, and a terrible hurt was swelling from within. Quickly Romeo levitated fourth his own doctors coat. Burying his head within that. Sniffing and whimpering all the while. He could not risk dirtying the dress with such things.
“Miss, please stop crying.”
“What?” The doctor muttered back with indifference keeping his head buried inside the coat. Not soon after he sniffed and began wiping his nose clean before looking up. “Sorry.” He licked his lips tryingly. Everything tasted of snot mixed with salt tears.
“Why are you crying miss?”
After blinking his eyes a couple of times, Romeo could see enough of his guest to judge him friend rather than slaver or worse. He looked young, and maybe even a bit hungry. “Sorry, I do this a lot.” Romeo`s throat was hoarse and burning. The doctor looked down on himself feeling a sense of shame wash over him. Still wearing the dress and being mistaken for a mare. The idea warmed his quivering heart. You best stop crying Dawn or we will soon have an indoor river. Why you don't want that to happen now do you?
“You want some oat's? I have water too.” The doctor began levitating out some of each. Refusing to take no for an answer. He wanted some himself too, and sharing a meal is always an event. At least the guest was neither raider nor slaver scum.
“This isn't a trap? Just givin this to me for free?”
“I have a tendency to hug ponies that get close. If you can call that a trap” The doctor began laughing half heartily to lighten the mood, but it hurt so he stopped. Romeo then pulled a tin filled with oats from his sack, and he ate some of that with a mouthful of water before presenting both to the youngster. “Its safe.”
The young colt looked at him hesitantly, with his blue eyes and light brown self. Then the kid grabbed the tin in front of him and began to gorge himself.
“Was I crying so loud that the wasteland decided to send a small hero to make me stop?” He looked into the mirror, and began brushing his mane to try and maybe delay any sort of insight into the nature of his presence and dress-code.
“What? Mam, I just didn’t want anypony to come in here and find me.” He looked a bit guilty.
“Where you here before me?” Romeo looked towards his guest with a twinge of guilty pleasure for playing this game of pretend. “Don`t eat so fast or this late night lunch might end up you puke it back up, and for goddess sake, you should drink water with that.”
The buck nodded in turn and began drinking water rather than eating the last oats remaining in the tin. “Yes miss, uh, What should I call you mam?”
Eyeing a closet the doctor was lost in thought. “You can. You can call me. Dawn.” He eventually stammered out, each word filled with increased confidence. “And your name is?”
“My name is Four Leaf, Miss Dawn.”
He had not been called that in a long time but it had to be done. He just could not be Romeo while wearing this dress. With a sheepish smile he looked to Four Leaf. “Be careful with the oats. They grow and become bigger in your tummy.”
The Dress was hard to move in, and the doctor almost tripped over himself at one point. Fortunately he had not ruined this magnificent piece of craftsmanship with obvious clumsiness. It had seemed like a plain dress when Wire had held it out to him, but it certainly had a spring sort of beauty to it. He wanted to wear it forever.
Opening a nearby closet the doctor was met with a line of clothes kept in pristine condition by magic. What first struck out to him in a sea of small treasures was a bottle of perfume still three quarters full. He quickly squeezed the bottle and tested it. It was a distinguishable sweet scent, like nothing he had smelled before but so alluring and mysterious. This mare had quite the collection.
“Four Leaves. Could you bring my bags and barding over here please?” Romeo asked while browsing the contents of the closet. Maybe somepony in Tenpony had a clothing preservation spell?
With a quick jump Four Leaf had grabbed the items. With ease the earth pony dragged them over, but he had not gone back to eating. Rather the chocolate brown buck looked expectantly at him.
“Thank you very much.” Romeo cooed back while feeling slightly uncomfortable at the ideas his mind was conjuring up. He truly should have fetched the barding himself but to take his concentration of these stunning dresses were. A hard task to put it mildly. “Sugar-bomb?” He levitated out one not quite knowing what this Four Leaves was expecting of him.
The youngster grabbed at the treat greedily and then ate it. “Why are you so nice Dawn?” He asked halfway into eating.
“Because that is what we are meant to be. Do not let anypony tell you otherwise. Because they are lying and are hurting inside.” After a stern look the doctor went to work at his bags while whistling a happy tune.
Emptying them in record time and then beginning the task of filling them again with the contents of the closet.
For starters, he Pressed the air out of these clothes and wrapped every piece tightly. He had to make sure that it would all end up with him. The dark blue socks with laces. Some spare dresses with overall light and happy colors.
Then he found fetched a prewar bonnet with a blue silk band. Easily wrapping it neatly around his head with no added shame. “You think the bonnet is silly? Not like it is sunny outside.”
“Will you help me find my friend, Dawn?” He shot Romeo the biggest set of puppy dog eyes imaginable.
“Yes.” He smiled, feeling that warmth inside. This was right and fitting. This was what he needed to do. “But first I need to pack.” He gently pressed the last of the clothes into the bottom of his bags and then began putting back inside everything else. Supplies like oats, candy and water. His medical tools and ammo. His tranquilizer dart gun and ten millimeter. Romeo looked towards Four Leaf, letting the Macintosh revolver linger in its chasing.
“It would be harder to run from anything that might try to eat me.” This had been an unusually awkward event in his life, but it was a moment he might look backwards and treasure. The dress was warm and comfortable, and something inside of him refused to be reasonable. Dawn flipped the casing up and pulled out the revolver, flickering at the gun chamber and hearing it click as he oiled it, and began checking the trigger mechanism.
The trigger clicked, and he checked the aim. This monster of a gun intimidated every inch of him. “Such a large barrel.” He whimpered while wrapped in a form of respect and awe. It made his ten millimeter feel like a peashooter. Every bullet pressed into the chamber felt like more of a religious affair. As if he should mutter a prayer for each and hope it would never be used to blow anypony`s head away.
“That sure is one heck of a gun mam.” Four Leaf was staring with awe and respect in his eyes as Romeo clicked the magazine back inside.
“It is.” With deep breaths he put the fully loaded gun to rest as if being hasty with the safety on might make it go off.
“Is it still night outside?” He asked while checking the cracks of a blackened window and then he kicked his doctor's barding. He just couldn't equip it anymore. It just didn't feel right. He looked at the Romeo name tag with a sigh. Carefully wrapping it up and placing it inside the bags with everything else.
The spring dress had pocket`s one on each side. Hiding in the dress like magical invisible pockets.
He pulled out a sugar bomb package and put it in one of the pockets while the gun found its way in the other.
Last but not least the saddle was equipped, and it was a great deal heavier. It was still something he could lift but when combined with the dress running would be impossible. Scorch was right, such an idiot he was. His death would be from being over-encumbered with a dead mares clothing. Fitting.
He pulled out the bonnet strings, and tied it to his head so it would stay there regardless of the wind. “Lets go Four Leaf, into the night. We will find your friend.”
Pretty Dress + Matching Earrings: If your act holds water you might find it that everypony wants to be your friend and some might even want to be more than that. +10 to barter and speech if you manage to make a successful pass. Ponies might feel less inclined to talk with you if they find out the truth. [Item Set]
“Thief” 1 Rank (of 3) Prerequisites: PER 5, AGI 5: A keen eye, a swift wit and a little bit of luck can go a long way in the Wastes. In your case, picking pockets and cracking locks just come naturally. With each rank of this perk, gain +5 to both the Lockpick and Sneak skills. On mastery, Force Lock attempts are 10% more likely to succeed and attempts at pick-pocketing are much less likely to be noticed.
“Fortune Finder” 1 Rank Prerequisites: LUK 6: It’s not not just sandwich money anymore. You’ve become a real treasure-seeker and, thanks to a touch of luck, you’ve become more than just a little successful. Now that you actually bother to scrounge through piles of clutter in search of pocket-change, you find more than just a couple caps. Searching for money in the Wastes is now more likely to yield significant returns and some unique dialogue options have been unlocked.
All credits for the setting go to Kkat, author of the original story Fallout Equestria published on Equestria Daily. Please support the sidefic authors that continue to explore her universe: Sidefic Googledoc.
Story is coauthored by Volk, Redundant and Damhoof.
Big hugs to DamnfoolBrony author of "Kiss Equestria Goodbye"
A whole bunch of roads and ruined structures rotting away or being used as nests. A bleak and dull grey with some brown and black debris scattered about. The occasional bit of grass sticking out of some crack in the road. This was Manehatten proper. A manticore roared somewhere in the distance. (once over)
Scorch looked to the thief with boredom in her eyes. “So. Wire. You didn’t seem very keen on talking to Doc.”
Wire seemed intent on ignoring her for some time, but eventually even he spoke up just to break the silence. “It’s ‘cause I know his type. They just want to fix you, even when there isn’t anything to fix.”
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” she said in the deep, gruff voice of an older pony. “An old friend told me that.”
The pony reeked of grease and smoke. A cigarette hung from the side of his mouth. “You ever hear that saying before? Well I have, and it’s a load of horseapples. Just because it ain’t broke, doesn’t mean you can’t make it better. Now get, this ain’t a place for little fillies.”
“Is that how that goes? I always thought it was You can’t fix a broke horse pond.”
Wire retreated into himself, looking silly and lost in thought for a few moments, before hurrying over to a nearby run-down apartment building. Though looming and dark gray on the exterior, on the interior it was just as much in shambles and ruined as the rest of its cousins. After a little application of elbow-grease, the rusty hinges of the door yielded and the thief stepped back. Taking a bow, the thief presented it to Scorch as though it were a gift of some kind.
“Lady Scorch, tonight’s winner. After you.”
“Smartass.” Scorch stated with a sliver of a grin while looking at a skeleton that never made it out of the city. It was curled up towards the wall near the entrance. A ghostly guard protecting the building from intruders. “Seems like a nice neighborhood.” Wire dashed behind the counter but found no keys.
Disappointed the pair moved along the hallway. Each and every door was locked. The second floor was the same as the first, same locked doors.
The third floor looked exactly the same as the others. Just more doors colored in a faded red that had lasted for almost two centuries. Scorch tried the first door, then the second. With a discouraged sigh she called to the thief. “Any luck yet?”
“Nope. Just a bunch of junk and jammed doors" She could hear his disgruntled reply while tempting her luck at the third door, and still there was nothing. “Damn. Well, it looks like we’re sleepin’ in the hal-” The knob on the fourth door turned with a click. “Yes!” Wire started to make his way from the other end of the hallway after hearing such a triumphant shout.
“I got dibs on the bed.” Scorch mentioned smugly as she pushed a door open. Only to find that the floor of the apartment above had collapsed. A large chunk of rubble blocked the entrance effectively sealing off the apartment. “Wasteland, you’re an asshole.”
Wire laughed at Scorch while she began undoing the straps of the flamer. It fell to the floor with a thud and revealed her dented-lighter cutiemark. Losing the flamer’s familiar weight on her back felt a little strange at first, but she adjusted. “Laugh it up. Looks like we camp here then. Think that Doc will be able to find us?”
The thief slumped flat on the floor, “I would be amazed if he found his way out of the store we left him in.”
“As long as I don’t have to haul his ass out of whatever fire he gets himself into I’ll be happy.” She turned toward the bag strapped to the flamer barrel and started rummaging trough her own belongings with a goal in mind. Dammit. I should have grabbed some of those books from that mare’s office. “Errr. You don’t a have book, or something paper do you? I need a fire, and that stuff can be great for gettin’ one started.”
The thief looked to her dumbfounded, but then he realised like so many before him that a fire would be great and began looking for alternative thing’s to light up. “Why not use some of this carpet?”
Scorch sighed at his ignorance and opened up a new bottle of whiskey. Taking a hefty drink to make this partnership more tolerable. The sour taste of well made apple-whiskey burned down her throat. Settling inside of her while offering both comfort and warmth. Giving her the patience to instruct, and teach.. “You want to breath in the smoke from that stuff? You gotta have somethin’. Papers, old clothes, anythin’?”
“Hmm, maybe.” Wire popped up the strap on his pack and rolled it off his back. Then he began rummaging through the pockets. “How about these paper sheets that Doc wanted me to start learning to write on.”
“It’ll work, give it here.” Scorch made short work of arranging most of the papers in a neat pile.
“Can you open something for me?” Wire rolled back to his bag, and opened a flap on the other side. Revealing a silver dented can. Scorch waved it over to her with a hoof, not even bothering to look much at it.
“Should have taken Doc’s food when I had the chance.” The thief placed his can on the ground next to her. Then he began pushing it towards her a little bit every few seconds.
“Alright, alright!” Scorch jerked up from the fire she had just started, grabbing an old combat knife from her bag and stabbing the top of the can. Using the toothed edge, she cut open the left portion of the can’s top. “I got it the first time. Sheesh.”
Wire quickly grabbed the can and let the amorphous slop fall into his open maw, not even bothering to chew or taste. Then he looked at the can, sniffing the edge as a dog waiting for second servings. “Nothing quite as good as... uh... something.”
He then held it in her direction.
“Thanks,” Scorch muttered, grabbing the can and making short work of the remaining contents. “I think it’s beets... or at least they used to be beets.”
Tossing the empty can away, Scorch opened the flap on her bag and pulled out the big can of paint, a pack of detergent and one of the extinguishers before declaring her intent. “Fire looks ready. Time to get to work.”
“What are you makin’ there?” Wire said from his pile in the middle of the hallway.
“A little somethin’ special, you’ll see.” She dumped a quarter of the can in the apartment entrance.
“Perfect.” she grabbed a slightly bent can from deep in her bag and placed it in front of her and aimed the extinguisher nozzle at the can. She paused for a moment as she looked at Wire and said. “You might want to turn your head.”
“Will you just get on with it already!”
“If you wanna get this stuff in you face then fine by me, just warnin’ you.” She closed her eyes and turned her head. Using magic Scorch gripped the trigger on the extinguisher and blasted the bucket. She drained nearly half the canister into the bucket, or at least tried. What had not made it in the bucket coated the walls and floor in a thin layer of a snowy white chemical. “You okay there Wire?”
Wire fell to the floor hacking up a lung, apparently having taken a breath-ful of the residue. “Agh! What? Gah!”
“Hahaha!” Scorch just started laughing, ignoring Wire’s obvious pain. “I warned you didn’t I? That shit is nasty.”
With wheezing breath Wire crawled his way over to his pack, and began opening flaps till he found what he needed. An injector of Med-X went into his neck calming him. Then he took an inhaler of Dash out and took a hit. He then slumped to the floor, “Ah, much better. Ass...”
“It’s your own fault. I gave you fair warnin’. Maybe you should listen more, next time it might not be just a little spray.” Scorch chuckled slightly and ripped open the box of detergent and dumped the flakes of soap into the bucket of white chemical.
Wire perked his ears with interest, “What you doin’!?” He was shuffling his hooves quickly in place.
“Wouldn’t you like to know.” She shook the bucket, swirling its contents around until they had mixed enough, then dumped the entire thing into the bucket of paint. “It’s a secret.”
“I hate secrets!” He stomped his hooves loudly, “Tell me tell me tell me!”
“...No.” She picked up the combat knife and started to stir the now dark grey mixture. “But you can see later.”
He let out a loud yell, “Fine!” He began to pace around on the old carpet. “Is it later now?!”
“Yes, it is later.” Scorch let a smile creep across her face as she placed the bucket of grey, stuff, in the embers of the fire. “But not later enough.”
“Fuuuuuck!” He looked at his wrist, “Why is time so hard!?” He slumped into the floor.
The container of grey liquid started to boil in its bed of hot ash, Scorch began to stir again, a bit slower this time. “Time for the secret ingredient.”
Scorch rummaged in her bag for a moment before retrieving a bottle of a pearlescent mixture from her bag and screwing off the top. Cautiously, she tipped over the vial and let a generous amount of liquid pour from the bottle and into the bucket. She decided that it was enough and screwed the top back on and carefully placed the bottle back in her bag.
Scorch sat in silence and boredom for, who knew how long. Still slowly stirring the dye, keeping herself awake with the periodic swig of whisky. Just a little bit longer, should be almost, almost... Her head began to nod, sleep slowly taking over her body.
Two hooves slipped over her shoulders, “Surprise.” Was whispered in her ear.
The knife Scorch was using flew out of the paint can and spattered the walls with a sloppy line of dark grey paint before sinking deep in the assailant's shoulder. Using the knife as leverage, she shoved pony off her back and onto the floor before ripping out the knife and pinning the pony, knife pressed against their throat.
“Who the? What the fuck! I almost killed you!”
The thief grimaced. “You feelin’ funny too?”
“You fucking idiot!” She withdrew the now rust coloured knife from wire’s shoulder, and wiped the blade on the floor. “I stabbed you with a knife covered in all kinds of nasty stuff you fucking dipshit.” She Handed Wire one of her whiskey bottles. “Wash it with this.”
“I don’t want to take a bath.” He said grumpily.
“Do it. Unless you’d rather die of some infection.” She practically shoved the bottle in his face.
“Fine.” He took the bottle in his mouth and dribbled it all over himself. “What am I doing?”
“No. The cut you idiot! Fine, I’ll fuckin’ do it. You useless pony.” She snatched the bottle away from Wire and drained half to bottle over the deep gash in his shoulder, draining most of the gray liquid from the surface of the wound. “You have some sort of jacket or something?”
“I have my head scarf.” He looked confused, “Headband, scarf, face sweater, I dunno what it’s called.”
“Give me the scarf.” She ripped the dirty scarf of Wire’s head and dipped the whiskey bottle onto it. The fabric soaked the alcohol up greedily. “I have to wrap it and stop the bleeding. Hold still.” She wrapped the scarf tightly around his upper leg and back, pulling the scarf tight over the wound and repeating the trail until she ran out of scarf. “That’ll have to do until we find a real doctor.”
“I’m feeling sleepy now.” He almost melted into the floor.
“We have to hunt down Doc now don’t we? Fuckin’ brilliant and here I thought Doc was the only stupid pony.” She pulled the can of paint out of the fire and dropped it to the floor, a small splash of grey landing on the carpet. “Now I can finally sleep.”
“What is that anyway?” A groggy Wire asked her.
“A special dye.” Scorch picked the knife back up from where she had dropped it and wiped the blade on the carpet again. The blood had been wiped clean, but a thin layer of black paint had stained the blade. “To keep my coat from catching fire.”
“How did you... Make... why?” Wire muttered the words sleepily as he alternated between falling in sleep and waking himself. She ignored him.
“What are you doing in here?” A pony called at Scorch from his workbench. His coat was dark green, and he wore a large brown apron that struggled to fit around a thick belly. An unlit cigarette hung limply from the side of his mouth, and a dark five o’clock shadow covered the rest of his face. He had a short black mane that stood straight up from his head as if reaching for the single light bulb that was dangling from the ceiling.
“I am just wonderin’ about what you are doin’.” Scorch trotted up to the pony and placed her hooves on the workbench and saw the array of tools he had strewn about. A bucket filled with a softly smoking... something occupied the partially cleared center.
“Well aren’t you just a curious little filly.” The fat pony said with a chuckle before turning back to his workbench and started to stir the mixture in the bucket.
“It’s a little something special for- Don’t touch it!” The fat pony yelled as Scorch’s hoof drifted towards the bucket.
Scorch snatched her hoof back away from the bucket. “Oops.” She said with a sheepish grin.
The fat pony chuckled as he stirred the smoking mixture. “This stuff isn’t meant for ponies.” He explained in a deep. “See that bot over there?” He gestured vaguely with a hoof to corner opposite the workbench.
Scorch turned to where the pony had pointed and saw an old robot sitting with its many arms curled tightly over its bubble like body. She drew her hooves of the table and crept up to the weird robot. An innate curiosity was cancelling out any doubts or fears for it that she might have had. It stood just barely taller than her with several pneumatic arms folded neatly underneath three little balls hanging from a bubble-body.
“Somepony’s paying big caps to get that thing fixed up,” the fat pony said from his position at the workbench. “So I thought to give it a new coat if paint since he’s already paying so much for it.”
Scorch was barely aware that the pony was still talking, she was too mesmerized by the weird bubble-bot, which is what she decided to call it.
“Only this stuff is a little special.” The fat pony appeared at Scorchs side with the bucket sitting on the ground in front of him, a thick black goop oozing lazily around. “You see, with this special paint, you could cover that bot in gasoline and it still wouldn’t catch fire. How is that for cool.”
Scorch’s opened her eyes slowly still trying to catch the last bits of sleep that had so rapidly abandoned her. Not bothering to get up she lay still for a few more minutes and then she let her eyes rest on the bucket lay on top of the ashes of their improvised fireplace. The dark grey liquid had cooled off. Time to get to work then.
She undid the zipper and buttons on her jacket and pulled it off her. Then she retrieved the knife from its sheath, and began dipping it into the almost black mixture. She pulled the knife from the bucket and used it to spread the mixture over her chest and forelegs. Damn, that’s cold!
Scorch spent what felt like hours carefully applying the dye with the knife and thoroughly mixing it in with her free hoof, taking particular care around her neck and face.
Well that should do it, and looks like I’m almost out of dye too. Lucky me. Scorch wiped off the knife on the carpet again. She took her time and stashed both the knife and the now empty bucket back in her bag before prodding the sleeping Wire. “Wake up, we need to get you to a doctor.”
He let out a wet cough. “I’m as fit as the day I was bo- Agh!” The thief had rolled onto his back to talk to Scorch and this action had clearly upset his sickly wound. A milk like substance now lingered on the floor, and Wire looked at it with curiosity.
“Oh Luna my shoulder. What happened?”
“You took a shit load of drugs, then you jumped me and I stabbed you.” Scorch told him as she put her forelegs though the sleeves of her jacket and redoing the many buttons and zippers. That cut of yours got some nasty stuff in it, and I don’t have any healin’ potions so we should probably try and find Romeo.”
“Out of the frying pan without a paddle.” He sighed looking mildly annoyed. Obviously not relishing the thought of having to go back for the doctor. “Can’t I just numb up and walk it off?”
“If you don’t want to get it fixed then I will leave you behind. Sick ponies are a liability, and that’s what you’ll be in a day. Or two.” This was supposed to be easy. Fucking friendship.
“Fine. Whatever.” He looked at his pack on the other side of the hall, and then to him still in a pile on the floor. “A little help then?”
“You’re still well enough to move, I’m not your babysitter.” That’s exactly what I am. The fuckin’ babysitter.
He mumbled and got to his hooves, wincing the whole time. He took a vial of Med-X out of his pack when he reached it, and injected himself. Relief washed across him, then he lugged his pack on. “So, where is he?” Not looking to pleased himself.
“You think I enjoy this?” She was letting the anger bleed into her voice. No, calm down. Getting angry won’t solve anything. “Just get moving. The sooner we find a doctor the better.” The only response she got was more mumbles and groans.
The pair moved sulkily through the apartment complex, their exit as uneventful and lifeless as their entrance. Waving goodbye to the eerie guard skeleton.
“Can you get us back to the super market then?” Scorch asked the dopey pony at her side once they had reached the street. The city was just grey building after grey building to her.
“You mean you can’t see our hoof prints in the dust on the road?” He looked at her half lidded. Scorch took another long drink from her bottle of whiskey. This was going to be an exeptionally long day.
“Just lead the way. I’m not in the mood.”
Scorch followed as the little pony sought out the apparently obvious hoof-prints from their journey last night. She quickly got in the habit of pushing him forward if he delayed. They kept at it in silence until the grocery was in sight.
“Here`s to hoping he stayed put.” They could both see new tracks. A pack of smaller hooves had invaded the dust of the store, and there was the distant crackling of a radio. DJ Pon-3 was speaking, and then shortly after he was replaced with Sapphire shores. Wire looked to her clearly confused. “Is that real, or in my head?”
“Nope, that’s real.”
A tin hit the floor with a clang and then replacing it was the sound of a filly running over the store floor. Scorch took another heavy drink from her bottle. Celestia save us.
While Scorch packed away the bottle Wire began coughing terribly so she pushed him forward. “You’re worse than I thought, you better see him now. Doc! Wire got hurt. Need a little help here.”
“Hurt?” Romeo yawned and approached them with as much seriousness as he had ever shown. Dressed in his medical coat but not wearing his barding. “You two left me.”
“And now we’re back. He’s sick and you are a doctor. We didn’t have to come back to you.”
“And why stop there? You`d leave me when it suits you, but not, him?” The doctor got close and looked to Wire who was busy sweating profusely and hanging his head low. Golden earrings with blue gems at the center began shimmering in his yellow magical glow. Romeo then nodded backwards into the shop. “Go see to the kids. I`ll wrap this up nicely.”
“Kids? What kids?” We were gone for less than a day. What the hell has he been up to?
He looked at her as he magically laid Wire on one of the many rows of benches that were stuck to the floor. “You can ask them.” All the puss seemed to magically spill out of the wound, and then the thief moaned. Romeo proceeded to dry the wound with a disinfected rag cleaning it of any residue. “What did he get stabbed with?”
“A knife covered in stuff.”
“The same stuff you are painted in? You stink.” His horn glowed again and an intense yellow light wrapped itself around the wound. Closing it and Wire seemed instantly more at peace where he lay on the bench. He wasn’t coughing anymore, and his breathing was stable. “Let me guess. You decided to paint yourself with chemicals that are not meant for ponies. Then whenever you get wounded you can also get an infection at the same time. Was that the plan? You had to stab Wire to check if it were poisonous enough?”
“It’s a fire retardant. When you work around fire as I do you need a little extra protection. The little bastard jumped me while he was trippin’ out on Dash and Med-X. I stabbed him with the knife I was using to mix it.”
“And you needed to leave me behind to make your flame retardant?” The doctor tossed the rag he had used to wash Wire`s wound at her. He both sounded and looked ready to cry. “Or did this idiot suggest that you abandon me as some kind of cruel joke, and you just follow his suggestion blindly? What are you stupid?”
She threw rag back at Doc with her hoof. “I was tired of hearing you talk all the damn time. The dye had nothin’ to do with that. Damn chatterbox.”
Romeo picked up the rag again, but did not toss it back. Instead he looked to his patient. “So it’s my fault that Wire is lying there?”
“It doesn’t matter who’s fault it is, just get him fixed so we can get out of here.”
“So you can abandon me again.” Romeo wiped his eyes with his left leg and then he chuckled while hiding his expression. “Because I talk too much?”
“Just fix him.”
The doctor looked to the sleeping Wire. “I did that already, but he needs some more rest. Look, if you are just going to leave me and use me when its convenient for you. Then I will begin charging caps for healing, and the price for Wire’s healing is 160 caps.”
“Fuck no. He pays.” She said angrily and pointed a hoof at Wire. “Go through his pockets or something.”
“Well aren’t you an element of generosity.” Romeo said with dismissive anger in his voice while robbing Wire of every drug he had. “What am I supposed to do with you two? You are worse than the two foals I found since last we met. Rabbit, and Four Leaf. You can come out now and say hello.”
Two small ponies had been listening in on them. A black buck with brown hair hiding behind a more brave white filly with grey hair. They both alternated between looking at the doctor emptying Wire’s bags, and suspiciously eyeing Scorch. “You smell funny.”
“Well you look funny.” Scorch said to them in a joking tone. “My name’s Scorch.” She let a smile spread across her face and held out a hoof to the pair.
The two both grabbed her hoof at the same time. “We are Four Leaf and Rabbits Foot, and we escaped from the slavers by crawling like Radroaches while they were distracted.”
“Wow, you two must be really tough. I don’t think I could do that.”
“Thats cuz you are a big pony. Rabbit was so good at playing radroach that I got lost from her. I was lucky and found Dawn. She found Rabbit easy with her pipbuck.” Four leaf looked embarrassed back at Rabbit. Then they giggled like the kids they where. “I like her dress. It was so pretty, but she isn’t wearing it now because it would get dirty out there. Do you have a dress too miss Scorch?”
“Wait, so you mean Doc here was wearing a dress?” The smile grew wider and then Scorch leaned down to the pair of foals. “I wanna tell you two somethin’ secret.”
“Really?” They looked at her with eyes filled with stars and meteors of wonders. Scooting close to Scorch. “What kind of secret? Is it tasty?”
“Do you guys like fire?”
They paused. Clearly not what they had expected. “Fire? Like Woosh?” Leaf asked, and Rabbit looked at her with curiosity. “It’s warm and once I burnt my hoof on it.“
“Yeah, like this.” She pulled the dinged lighter and sparked it to life, letting the little flame light up their faces.
They giggled with happiness but respected the flames. “It’s beautiful.”
“Follow me, I’m gonna show you two somethin’ cool.” She giggled with excitement and guided the fillies forward. Their excitement soon matched hers. “This is going to be so awesome.”
“What are we going to do?” Their inquisitive minds began to question her. Clearly because she was not walking fast enough.
“We’re gonna have a little fun with fire.”
“Really? Are we making a bonfire?” Four leaf asked, but then Rabbit overtook his place with equal enthusiasm. “What are we roasting?”
“You’ll see.” She pulled out the nearly empty bottle of whiskey out of her bag and drained it. “Grab that rag and we can start.” She pointed to a dirty strip of cloth on a counter.
“Yay!” Four Leaf jumped upwards and pulled at it, but the strip was stuck. It took the two of them working together to rip out, and they stumbled backwards becoming temporary giggling mummies.
“You know what this is?” She handed an empty bottle to Leaf once they had returned to the task at hand.
“Its an empty smelly bottle.” He answered in return and then Rabbit pounced him. “Let me smell too! It’s adult juice. The slavers drink it all the time and it tastes like yuck.”
“Yep. You wanna know something special about it?” She reached back around to her bag and began to dig around again pulling out a tall bottle of clear liquid. “It makes for a real fun time.” Scorch twisted off the cap in a fluid motion and presented it to the pair. “Take that rag and stuff it in the top here.”
“Yush.” The busy little bees began stuffing with an overzealous enthusiasm. Both competing for the same stuffing of the rag, and then suddenly everything was inside the bottle. Rabbit presented the bottle to Scorch with fervor in her voice. “We did it! See Scorch we pushed it all into the top.”
“Good job, you could have done it a little better.” She bit onto the little sliver of rag still sticking out of the top and pulled it out. “Now this is important. Watch how I do it.” While making sure the little foals were watching, she slowly feed the rag down the neck of the bottle, so that the lengthy strip was dangling out.
“See?” She pulled the rag out and handed the bottle and rag to the little ponies. “Try it again, but do it as I showed you.”
“The adult juice stings in my eyes. Ma’am.” Four Leaf complained as the two worked together to copy Scorch. “Now what?” Rabbit asked while Four Leaf sniffled, he then began clenching his teeth hard and wiping his eyes. “I’m not crying. It was just very stingy.”
Scorch couldn’t help laughing at Four Leaf’s attempt at saving his own stallionhood. “Don’t worry. It makes me eyes hurt too.”
Leaf looked to Scorch, still sniffing his nose and with watery eyes. “Really? It makes you’re eyes sting too?”
Then he was drawn back down by Rabbit as she hugged him. “Best Friends.”
“Yeah, it still does sting a little...” She drifted for a moment, the smile fading off her face. Her eyes moving to the bottle standing in front of her. A wisp of a spark dancing around a tiny ball of magic on the tip of her horn.
“Ma’am?” They looked at her expectantly. Leaf approached her, looking up at the spark dancing at her horn. “I wish I was a Unicorn too. Isn’t it nice with magic? The princesses had magic.”
And look where it got them. “It’s, nice. Yeah, magic is nice.” The little ball of light winked out of existence, spark flickered for a moment then jumped off her horn and winked out of existence.
“Aaaw.” Four Leaf sighed and smiled up at Scorch while pulling her forehoof. “Make it again. Ma’am. Puhlease?”
Rabbit jumped on the other hoof, and began mimicking her best friend. “Just like the princesses.”
“I can try...” She closed her eyes and tried to summon the spark, willing it back into existence. Her mind began to narrow, Thoughts and breaths becoming ragged. Then it was gone. Her concentration broke, and her eyes flew open as she gasped for breath. Recalling how much she hated magic.
“I’m... I’m sorry. I couldn’t do it.”
“It`s okay ma’am. We know you tried. Not everypony can be a princess like Dawn.” After a small hug and a moment of apologetic silence, they presented her with the bottle they had made. “Yush. Lets do the secret stuff. Bonfire!”
“Alright, but you should be careful.” She picked up the bottle and held the lighter in her teeth. “This shtuff getsh dangeroush.”
The world was quiet around Blue Wire. A small shack was in front of him. Inside was a small cake on a table. He went to take a slice of the cake but a giant knife came down, and chopped his forehooves off. He fell to the ground screaming, blood was sloshing everywhere and pain rocketing through his body.The blood was pooling and getting bigger. Then began to take shape in front of him. He tried to run, but the stumps that used to be his hooves slowed him down. Suddenly, the shadows came down on top of him and began to slice his back open. The shadows began to form their own black pony beside the red one. Wire somehow knew they wanted to kill him as they grew closer.
Wire bolted from his nap panting heavily. What the fuck happened? He looked around, trying to get his bearings. Why am I in the fuckin supermarket? He saw Scorch across the room from him, playing with two foals with big smile on her face. Now I know I’m dreaming. He wanted to get up from the bench he was o, but pain shot up his back. “Hey, hey, hey, what?!”
“What do you mean what?” Scorch yelled back, silly grin still wide across her face.
“What happened?!” He was not happy. Was I drinkin? Did we have a party with kids? I must have been fucked up. He even had bandages wrapped around him. “Is anypony gonna fill me in on what happened?” He looked back at Scorch. Her fur was now coated in a deep grey. “How abou-” Okay, I know my vision isn’t bad. “What the hell happened to you?” The best he could remember last time he saw Scorch, she was a vibrant yellow.
“Remember that special surprise I was talkin’ about, well this is it.” She waved a hoof over her now dark grey chest. “Flame retardant dye. Like it?”
No. I don’t like it. “And those?” Pointing his hoof at the foals hiding behind Scorch.
“Their names are Four Leaf and Rabbit. Some runaways Lady Dawn found.” She said the last few words with a snicker.
“What we picked up more tagalongs? Where is she?” He said looking around for another hidden pony.
“Right behind you.” Scorch pointed directly at Doc. “That’s “Lady Dawn”.”
“Agh!” He stumbled back in surprise at seeing the crimson pony. “But we ditched you! I need a drink...” Wire looked to his flanks but his pack was gone. He took a quick glance around, it was on the floor beside him. All of the pockets had been turned open, and they used to hold all of his chems. “Who touched my pack?”
“Everything that is gone lies in a pile over there, and as I told Scorch. If you are going to abandon me and then come back when you get injured I would like to get paid. She refused to pay for you, and you are broke. So I plucked trough your stash, and now I am going to burn my share.”
He’s got you there doesn’t he? What to do, what to do? Lie of course. “Look I’ll owe you. Just don’t burn anything. I might be a thief, but I pay off my debts.” Just one in the chest, and one in the skull and you’ll owe nopony nothin. It would have been that simple. Thinking was proving difficult.
“I’ll hold you to that. Now it’s time to eat” Tin’s of oats were levitated in front of the doctor. One for each. The two foals were quick to appear now that food was served. “Thank you Dawn. We were getting hungry from all the fun with Scorch. She is a unicorn too, but she is not as good with magic as you.”
“Why are you here?” Wire picked at his share of the oats, asking nopony in particular yet the black colt looked up to him. “Hi, I am Four leaf, and that is Rabbit my best-est of friends. When pretending to be a rad-roach I got lost from her, and instead I found Dawn. She was wearing a pretty blue dress, and helped me find Rabbit again with her Pipbuck.”
Wire pointed his hoof at the Doctor while keeping his sour face on. “What? He ain’t a mare?”
“Because Dawn was wearing a pretty dress and all princesses wear dresses silly.” Four Leaf announced proudly. Romeo just looked at Wire’s hoof. Not bothering to correct either of them as he ate his share of oats.
“And you call me messed up.” Directing his attention to the doctor. The pain was becoming agonizing, and he needed a shot. Determined he walked towards the pile of drugs.
“You sure you want to do that?” Romeo looked to the thief. “What happened to the Wire that left Friendship with me?”
“I’ve got many talents.” Some would call it acting, I prefer thinking of it as much of an art as lock picking. He told himself as he looked at the obstacle between him and his chems. “Just need one to dull the pain.”
“How original.” the doctor snorted. Oozing with disappointment as he levitated a vial of Med-X to Wire. “There better not be a next time before tomorrow.”
Wire didn’t bother to store what he said in his memory, too ecstatic to have all his chems back. He pulled out a single Med-X and injected it. The medicine was quick to do it’s job and calming him down considerably. The world fell into place. I feel much better. Now, what the hell is goin on. He looked at the kids eating.
Might not come back to bite us in the flank. He took a look at the firemare playing with her lighter behind the children, Ass, I’ll owe her something later indeed. Then to Romeo, Well, turns out he likes to play dress up after all. I’ll be sure to put him in that dress when I leave him face down in a ditch.
He looked around the store for a moment, the store much darker than last time he was here, power might be going or something. Then there was a smell, not the chemical stench lingering off the blackened Scorch. There was something else and it was sweet smelling.
Maybe a box of food got smashed open? He wanted to know what it was, it was calling to him. But he dismissed it for the time being while grabbing a cigarette from the pile of chems. “I’m going outside for some fresh air.” Trotting away before the concerned doctor could get more so.
The wastelands blandness provided a marvellous escape from the colorful pony parade back in the store. He thought to himself as he tried to suck on an unlit cigarette. Should have asked for a light, fuck em all. Idiots the both of em. On top of that now I’ve got to be around foals.
I don’t like foals. He was enjoying the silence. Now with Doc back, and two more additions to the party there would be few instances of quiet time. What self respectin’ Earth pony is dazzled by basic unicorn magic? If I got paid for it, I’d show em how weak they are.
He had a bit of pride for his kind. Smart, intelligent, versatile. There was almost nothing an earth pony couldn’t fix with a liberal amount of time. It would make sense that those kids wouldn’t understand that, even if it were right under their muzzles. Snuck out of a slaver camp playing a game. Can’t do that with a horn sticking out of your face. Or wings cluttering your back.
Wire was lost in thought for longer than he thought. Snapped out of it by silence. The kind of silence that would worry a scared pony. He scanned the streets as best he could from his terrible vantage point. The wind whistling through the streets muffling hoof steps or quiet voices. The thief could normally hear some kind of birds chirping or maybe a rodent in a sewer grate, but they were all silent. Somepony or something was out there, roaming the streets.
Wire looked around, trying to find a ladder. he needed a better look at the crossroads that surrounded the shopping mart. A few minutes of looking payed off, a bent ladder would get him close to the roof.
The thief clamored to the edge of the roof while taking in the slight vista, it wasn’t much seeing as he was only two stories up at the most. But it was enough. He could already make out the distinct smell of other ponies in the breeze. They drew closer.
Far to the left of the parking lot he saw a shadow move. It was significantly smaller than a pony and much quicker. It was a dog. Out from behind a store came a second one. They had a strong scent, and were following it with determination. He might have dismissed it as nothing but there was a group of ponies brandishing firearms following in their wake.
Okay, three ponies and a mutt or two, not that serious. I can take that out in- Three more ponies appeared after the first bunch, these ones armed much better than first. He could make out one with twin machine guns, the other had rifles or shotguns, not significant at this moment. He needed to see if they headed to the parking lot or not. No need in killing folk that ain’t messed with me yet.
The dogs were clearly headed this way. He had to get back down and warn the rest of the idiots, mostly for the fact his launcher was still down there on his pack being the main reason. He began to make his way back to the ladder when his hoof went though the roof.
Fuck me with the moon! He tried to pull it out, only to have a nice pony sized hole open beneath him, dropping him onto the tops of storage shelves inside the store.
“That saved me about twelve whole seconds” He groaned while picking himself up from the debris, and then walked along towards the front of the store.
Wire made it to the front, standing on top of the tall shelves once used to store extra cans of food untill he could make out the rest of his party underneath him, he yelled down to them. “Hey!”
“What the hell are you doin’ up there?” Scorch yelled back at Wire.
“Long story. No time. Bad ponies headin’ our way.” He shouted down to Scorch while the doctor scrambled with the kids.
Scorch jumped to her hooves. “How many?” She called back, pulling a worn box of dull red shotgun shells from her bag. and began to carefully hoof load each shell into the upside down lever action shotgun duct taped to the side of her flamer.
“Six, two dogs too.” He had no idea how he was gonna get down.
“Dogs?” She swore quietly. “Doc, get Rabbit and Leaf in the back. And Wire. Catch.” She looked up at him on top of the shelves.
“Launcher.” She tossed Wire’s weapon up on top of the shelves with a little boost from her horn. “Take them by surprise. I’ll take care of the dogs.”
He nodded at her. Then he climbed the shelf with ammo for his launcher. Four shells, high explosive. And two normal shells in the stock. That should be enough. Well, I hope it’s enough. He laid down. Using the top of the shelf as cover. Taking glances at the front doors. He was ready to turn ponies into paste.
There was a lull before the storm. Wire looked down to Scorch. Tasting the dry emptiness of an unlit cigarette. “Can I have a light? Now?”
“Fine, but you owe me one.”
The lighter sparked to life and soon the cigarette was lit. Wire inhaled the calming smoke, not unlike the current situation. The dogs were sniffing and growling at the entrance of the grocery store. The slavers entered too, and soon he had the perfect shot.
Ka-thump! Two slaver-ponies met their deaths in an explosion of fire and death. Their dogs charged through the store. Claws scraping on the linoleum in a desperate search for a foothold. One managed to achieve footing, the other skidding into a counter with a yelp, but soon had its bearings again.
The first Dog neared Scorch with its mouth shut and foam streaming steadily from the sides. The shotgun roared. The dog ducked in an attempt at avoiding the shot, but Scorch tracked its dodge and shot again within seconds of the first. Two empty shells hit the ground.
The second dog managed to pounce before Scorch had time enough to target. She swung to the side avoiding a set of snapping jaws, and pulled out her blackened combat knife. The dog recovered from its narrow miss and pounced again. But Scorch was ready and drove the knife into its chest. Hearing a yelp as the dog hit ground. Blood poured steadily from its wound. The knife was soon buried deep into the dog’s neck. Instantly silencing it.
“The fuck?” The remaining slavers had taken retreated to the entrance. Content with shouting into the store. “Hey! Who are you ponies in there?”
“None of your business.” Scorch shouted right back. “Who the hell are you?”
“I’m the stallion that’s gonna break your neck unless you tell me what I want to know!” The pony outside screamed back.
“Come and say that to my face. Your dogs got me all worked up, I’m itching for a good fight.” She yelled back as she wiped the bloody knife off on her sleeve.
“Nopony fucks with my dogs! No pony! Do you have any idea what group of ponies you are fuckin with? You and your friend are dead.” Was their reply with air of arrogance and gang invincibility. “We where just lookin fer two escaped foals, but now you brought the fire. Nopony kills one of Barkers ponies and gets away with it. Nopony.”
“Go fetch your friends then.” She yelled back. She muttered something to herself before turning to Wire. “Keep them out if they get ballsy, I’m gonna go fetch Doc and the kids. I think I got a plan.”
“Does it have to be lit up in a blaze of fire?” Romeo inquired. He looked at Scorch with a scepticism. No doubt questioning the brilliance of her plan or maybe he simply wanted to have the desk.
FWOSH! With a spark from her lighter the soaked desk was engulfed in flame, and then it became wrapped in Romeo’s magical grasp with a yellow hue. “I do not want to be picking lead out of my flank after this so keep it steady.”
Using the desk as a battering ram the doors of the store were pushed open, and the gang exited the shop to the sound of gunfire. Obviously the four slavers from before were using the buildings opposite of them as cover while waiting for backup. No such thing. “Toss it at the two over there!”
“You sure about this?”
She looked to Romeo, and yanked on the thick string hanging from the corner of her mouth, cocking the taped shotgun.
The desk they had used as cover flew quickly towards a pair of slaver ponies trying to take cover inside a building. They where soon surrounded by a cloud of bellowing black smoke and then the shotgun barked, and a slaver’s head exploded in a rain of pellets.
BANG! Following the ruined desk Wire shelled the two slavers with an artillery round. Maiming one and killing the other on top of ruining the building even further.
Scorch let out a laugh.“Was that it? I was only getting started.” Scorch said, drawing a nearly empty bottle from her bag and downing the rest in one go. “This day is gettin’ kinda fun though what the hell are we gonna do with those two fillies? We can’t just leave them, not with slaverponies after them.”
“Well, then they tag along. Beats heading back to Friendship and then back out again.” Romeo replied.
“Cause what better idea than to take some runts on a trip into dangerous territory. You truly are a smart one doc.” Wire said from the rear of the pack, dragging his hooves.
“Just slavers,” Scorch shrugged, then added with a little grin. “Not that bad. I’ve seen worse.”
“I wasted six shells on them!” Wire was obviously not in the mood for anypony’s antics.
“Wow. You must be a pretty bad shot, then,” she countered, barely stifling a laugh. “I only used three, and mine’s just a little ol’ shotgun. Compared to your bomb flinging launcher, it’s a damn peashooter.”
Scorch stopped for a moment, letting a sly grin creep up her face.
“Maybe if you hadn’t been so distracted by Lady Dawn’s flanks, you’d have actually hit something.”
“Oh shut up.” He was practically mulching the butt of the cigarette at this point, increasing his consumption proportionally with the distance between them and the shop.
“The buck are you getting angry about? Wire. Get up here with me. Those perceptive eyes of yours were not for staring at my behind.” Romeo waved him forward.
“None of what she said is true; I don’t want you or your dainty little head gettin’ any ideas,” he applied a stern tone to the doctor.
“Stop lyin’ to yourself. You’ve been droolin’ over him, I mean, her back ever since we left the store.”
“It’s not that I believe her, I just wanted to talk is all,” Romeo answered Wire coldly while keeping his eyes on the foals before yelling out in concern. “Don’t stray too far now, Four Leaf. Rabbit. Make sure to keep in sight of us!”
Wire took a pacing glance to the foals, then an angry one at the smirking firemare, then back to the crimson pony beside him. “About?”
“Did you both really abandon me for being overly chatty?” Romeo asked the thief rather offhandedly while keeping his eyes trained on Rabbit and Leaf.
“No, it was cutting off my fucking hooves and trying to take away my fucking chems. The talking was just the fucking cherry on top.” Keeping his voice down, eyes slated on the doc.
“I only took your chems because I wanted to save you, and you still have your hooves.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Well, I thought... maybe if I dyed your hooves and gave you a nail job, you would be reminded of staying clean just by looking at them.”
Eyes still on the kids, he continued. “It’s a Ministry of Morale trick that I read about in a book.”
He was silent for a while as they walked. He mouthed a few words, talking to himself more than anypony else. Then he spoke, “And they’re all dead. Be happy you got them little foals here, or I would lay you out across the blacktop.”
“I somehow doubt you would be able to. Unicorn confidence remember? And I picked up some stuff while we were separated.” His earrings shone in the limited light they had been granted by the cloud cover. “Goddess knows I worry about those two there. It feels like I am using them for bait.” Romeo frowned. “Sounds like something I would do.”
“Ain’t my foals, ain’t my problem.” Wire lifted a hoof in the air limply.
“They are still my responsibility. They trust me, and then I hide behind telling myself that they will react to something threatening before they die, and I feel like the worst scum of all Equestria.”
“Eyup. Try not and get too attached. That way it wont hurt as much.”
“I can’t help it.” He pulled out a sugar bomb and then set about eating it while Wire let out a grunt of annoyed dismissal.
“And then they fucked.” Scorch snorted a laugh from behind the two ponies. “How many other names you got Lady Dawn?”
“You have no shame.” Romeo sighed as he pointed towards their goal. “The arrow isn't that far ahead. I want to try talking to these ghouls first.”
“Oh but doc, you got me in the killin’ mood. I’ve spilled blood. I need more! All must die!” The thief let out an ambitious laugh and grabbed at Romeo.“I can’t be stopped! The drugs have taken me! I’m a killin’ machine!”
“You already took a shot back at the shop. You keep this up and you’ll start suffering from addiction again.” He gave Wire a pleading look.
“You two are just so adorable!” The dark grey coated fire-mare said in a mock girly tone. “Wire can cover us. I’ll play the body guard, and then you convince them that leaving is more worth it than staying. Easy.”
“And who is gonna watch them?” A hoof pointed at the two kids having a tussle in the road.
“Just tell them to stay close to Daddy Wire while Mommy Dawn and big sister Scorch takes care of some business.” Scorch used a mocking tone from behind them. She had the perfect view like a moviegoer in a cinema. Wire let out a long drawn out sigh and started walking down the road again. Romeo on the other hand pulled out a brush from his saddlebags, and began brushing his mane. “Well. I better look the part then.”
“You don’t mean?” His voice trailed off a bit.
“I didn’t properly brush it this morning.” The brush began rippling trough his mane at a gentle pace. “What would you expect? Unless you think Ragged wasteland mess of a pony will persuade them any better? I don’t see why I should not use what I have to my advantage.”
“Yeah, I’m sure a well brushed mane will make all the difference.” He rolled his eyes.
“Not exactly the entire plan my poor addict.” He levitated out his prewar bonnet with a satisfied smile. “They might question the doctors motives but Lady Dawn? HA, they would never stand a chance.”
He looked at him with a slack jawed expression. “You’re kiddin right?”
Romeo’s horn glowed as a spell was cast. “I have to thank you for your support Wire. It isn’t often I find ponies who appreciate me for who I am and want me to be the best I can be.” His voice changed from the beginning until the end. A lithe and fragile effeminate tone of kindness. “I’ll just wave my magic little horn and make everything alright.”
“That’s uh, that’s creepy.” He was a bit unnerved.
“You are seriously fucking creepy Doc.”
“I’d change into the dress we found too, but id rather keep it tucked away and safe from the dirt.” This seemed to sadden the doctor as he tucked away the name tag with Romeo written on it. Then he proceeded to use his new-found voice to disturb the thief even more. “Woho. Yay, way to go Romeo. You copied my voice perfectly, and I don’t mind it the least.” Then he looked to Wire thoughtfully. ”
“Wha-” He did a double take. “What the hell are you babblin about?!”
“I guess you don’t recognise this voice. It’s okay she doesn’t mind. Her name was Fluttershy, and she was the ministry mare of peace before the bombs hit. I was just a little filly when I first delved into my fathers memory orbs, and her voice was.. But as you should be able to hear it sacrifices a lot of assertiveness and rather appeals to your inner pony for kindness.”
Then he sighed. “It is still just a magicked out voice. If i stopped thinking about mimicking her accurately as she presents herself I just get this nice sugary tone.”
“I don’t even know what to make of you.”
“What do you mean? I am a perfectly healthy, normal pony and you don’t need to make anything out of me.” He pulled out the perfume and sprinkled some on his neck. “So there, with my mane fixed, the bonnet, earrings and this voice. I think I can pull it off.”
“What, seduce them?”
“No, or well. Appeal to their inner ponies I would rather say.” He nibbled casually on a sugar-bomb. “You should try it sometime.”
“I prefer it when they never know I was there.”
“Duh, boring.” He bounced over to Wire’s side with a graceful sway. “You would never get to know anypony that way.”
“Yeah, cause gettin to know all ya’ll has been real swell.” His comment biting with sarcasm.
“Enope. So just be a good kitty cat, and let me take care of these ghouls.”
“I’m not a kittie cat.”
“Meow.” The doctor laughed. “I’d call you Mr.Mittens.”
They where near the shelter. A fairly large structure in a park for foals. The distant sound of feral ghouls piercing trough the air. Four Leaf looked up to Dawn. “Oh no. Zombie ponies. We should go far away.”
The doctor simply smiled back. “Go with Wire, stay with him. He is expert at playing Rad-roach. Here, you can borrow my brush and help make Rabbits mane pretty.”
The little foal closed his worried eyes and gave her a hug. “I don’t want to lose you. You are the nicest pony I have met since mommy.”
“Well, I need to be nice to some other ponies for just a tiny moment. Please. Go with Wire and be on your best behaviour. He likes silence.” He nudged the two foals towards the thief with a satisfied smile on his face.
“Yush! Like a pack of bloodwings.” Four Leaf tried to bounce like Romeo but almost fell flat on his face. “Once the slave caravan got attacked by one. It was very scary, but very silent too. Slavers got real scared, and then Rabbit threw a rock on the ground to scare them even more.” The pair seemed fairly proud at that achievement.
“We didn’t get discovered. Duuh.” Rabbit looked at Wire as if he had dismissed her claim of being awesome and she took offence.
Four Leaf offered his helping hoof to shed light at the matter. “Yea, but mostly because the bat under our cart pounced on them.”
Then Rabbit shot him deadly looks too. “Don’t use your fancy logic's to muddle the issue. I threw a rock and scared the dumb slaver’s. The bat was just super dumb too.”
“You never want to take on one of those things by yourselves. Drain you dry in less than a minute.”
“Really? They are no match for Maximus Rex the zebra savage. He would use his hooves on them. Like this, and then like that just like when he faced Korzac the manticore king.” Rabbit showed off some weird air hoof-strikes that made Four Leaf slink away, he had obviously tasted these hooves before.
He sent them both a half smile. “When he went into the Hydra’s lair he found that he couldn’t do everything with his hooves. He had to rely on his stealth more than his hoofstrikes.”
“Really? Do you have a magazine where he does that? Aw, can we read it later, please? Promise to be super silent and not bother you at all” Rabbit hunkered down next to Wire, with a near desperate thirst for whatever more he had.
Four leaf on the other hoof while supportive did not voice his enthusiasm. Wire gave the two foals a trying look. “If it’ll keep you two occupied while we wait you can.”
“Really? Pull it out then, i will be super occupied. More than 200% occupied.” Rabbit jumped up on Wire’s back. Easily opening up the flaps on his backpack.
“Hey! Hey!” He grabbed her by the scruff of the neck, “I’m carrying more than your weight in explosives, do not do that!”
“Aaw. I swear ah’m sorry. I just wanted to read the magazine.” She looked up at him, with the oddest mix of trying to fake guilt and being exited over a magazine she had never read.
“Patience.” He told her sternly.
“I was being patient.” She looked down when she had caught his gaze, but then Four leaf hugged her. “It’s okay if he is busy right now. We still have this.” He presented to her Romeo’s Brush. “You can be the pretty princess, and I can brush your mane.”
“Okay, you two can wait a few more minutes, lets climb the stairs to the roof of this place.” Pointing at a burned building. The two foals where quick on their feet but crept around in relative silence.
“What if the stair’s have caved in?” Rabbit questioned the thief curiously.
“We improvise, ain't too hard for ponies like us.”
“Like Rex? Will we be hoofstriking steps into the building?” She looked towards the building.
He let out a sigh, “Yeah, sure, why not.”
Wire just stayed silent, trying to avoid the foals persistence. After a few minutes of nothing but stair climbing and whining about said stair climbing, they made it to the door that gave roof access, only to find it locked. “Okay, one last thing, and you two can sit down.” He pulled out his tools and began fiddling with the lock.
“Agh!” The thief jumped as a brush went through his mane, the lock jamming shut. “Gah, fuck me.” He shot the colt a dirty look.
“Sorry, I was a bit too sneaky. So I sneak attacked you with the brush. Your mane is all tangled.” The two looked to Wire expectantly.
“Just go back around to corner, while I open this.”
“Sorry.” Their voices echoed each others, and then they walked away.
Wire took a small amount of C4 from his pack and put in on the lock. He pulled out the detonator cap and his remote and put it in the explosive and walked back beside the two children. “Cover your ears.”
“Covered.” The corner yelled back.
Wire pressed the button on the remote.
The door slammed out, and light from the cloud cover filtered in the dust that now filled the alcove. “Okay, come on you two.”
Wire scanned around, soon finding the shelter off in the distance. “Okay, it’s gonna take them longer to find their way through all that rubble over there, so we’ll be here a while.” He took his pack off his back and pulled the Launcher out of it’s resting place.
“The view is real creepy. A ghost playground. Did Rex ever fight ghosts?” Rabbit looked to Four Leaf. The black buck sighed. “Yea, he probably did at one time or another.” Rabbit nodded in agreement. “I’ve been to taller buildings before. Though even if the view was nice we sorta had to go back down before anypony found us out..”
“Uh huh,” Wire was barely listening. He was snapping the bipod on his launcher so that instead of directly shooting at the bunker, he could launch it in a big arc, like prewar artillery. He had seen it done in a book once, and it was considered highly effective. Nopony ever expects the bombs to be launched over buildings at them.
Four Leaf had snuck up on him and was clinging to the comb. Even with the added weight of his pounce, the comb got stuck midway. “Brushie?”
“What has gotten in your head that thinks I want to be brushed?” He asked him sternly.
“Your mane is tangled really badly. It needs brushing, and I wanted to see if i could sneak up on you.” He replied innocently. Still dangling from the brush. “Turns out I can, but now I’m stuck.” He heaved and used his powerful hind-legs on Wire’s cheeks, but all he did was drag the thief to the floor. “It’s not budging. Help.”
unity. “It’s stuck.”
“Stuck? What do you mean? Stuck.” He asked from a muffled pile under the kids.
“The brush isn’t going out.” The kids then began dragging him the other way. All they achieved was further tangle and twist his mane. “It isn’t working. Maybe, if we tried backwards and forwards. Maybe to the sides?” The two fillies tried again, and with their unified strength they proceeded to drag Wire with them.
“Ow ow ow ow ow!” He was cringing, the hair being pulled starting to hurt, “Stop!”
“Well. It’s not coming off.” The two ponies let go with a sad expression.
He let out a sigh. This is what I get for not washing my mane? “I don’t know what to do in this situation. Do ya’ll?” He asked them reluctantly.
“Burn the hair?” Rabbit suggested, but this made Four Leaf upset. “With the brush on top? I say we need to cut the hair.”
“I don’t have scissors. All I have is this knife.” Wire pulled said knife from his leg hostler, and then gave it a quick flick popping the blade out of the handle.
“Wait.” Four Leaf seemed to recall something and didn’t want Wire to start just yet. “Maybe we can just leave it there and wait for Dawn. She was really nice and did my hair. Look it is all nice now. I’m sure she has a magic spell to untangle it from the hair.”
“Ugh, I’d rather burn it off.”
Four Leaf looked to him with an angry expression. “Then you would ruin your mane, and Dawn would be upset.”
Rabbit looked to her friend with jealousy. “Well, I wanna see Wire burn his mane.”
“Why would he be upset? And you, you’ve been around Scorch too long.”
“Because she likes to brush manes. She was saving hers for a very long time, and wanted to get a really long one like the princesses, and if yours got burned. You would have no mane at all. I’m sure she would be very upset with that.” He looked down in grief, and then gave Wire his most pleading look. “Oh no. This is my fault. I put the brush in there. She will be upset at me. Please don’t burn your mane. Please.”
“Ugh, fine. I’ll never hear then end of it from him.” He rolled his eyes. Pastel wouldn’t want me to burn it off either.
Four Leaf hugged the thief and thanked him ten million times. “Can we read from the Rex magazine now?” Rabbit looked at the two with a bored expression. Clearly having lost out on watching Wire’s mane burn.
“Fine.” He let out. He rummaged through his pack, bits of scrap and explosive components falling out in his search. Then he pulled out a faded comic book, a bullet hole in the top left corner. “It’s a bit worse for wear.”
“By Celestias cunt!” Rabbit jumped up and down, looking at the magazine from different angles. “Luna rape me sideways, this is awesome!”
“Where in the hay did you learn to talk like that?” He asked surprised at the exuberance of the filly, as he tossed the mag to the ground between them.
“She copied it from the slavers, they say it when they are very happy.” Four Leaves let his friend dictate the pace. She only stopped looking intently at it to turn the page with a trembling hoof. “You can’t read silly.”
“Dawn is an idiot.” Rabbit replied, shifting the page again. “Mommy was being real nice to the slaver ponies, and helped them cook food. They still sold her, and she had to leave us behind and when I grow up. I will be the strongest pony, and I will have hoofstrike like Rex and. And.”
Leaf hugged Rabbit again and leaned on her in a half hug. “You don’t need to be Rex, I just want my best friend. But Rex is cool too, and when I grow up I will learn how to read. So I can read about him for you.”
“Look Rex is riding the giant grey thing.” and they turned the page again. “Yay, hoofstrike while riding the giant animal.” Then they turned another page, and another.
Don’t get attached. Don’t get attached. Don’t get attached. “You two don’t know how to read?”
“Well, duh. Mom tried, but she was kinda busy. In case you have lived under a rock. Slaves don't exactly get spare time except to sleep.” Rabbit squinted her eyes. “I know this word because it was in the other magazine. That is wack, and that is slam” Four Leaf nodded. “You are supposed to say it real loud, but we never got to do that.”
“What If I was to uh,” Don’t do it, it wont end well. You know it wont. “Well, uh read,” You can still back out, who cares if they hate you, “Read it to you two?” Idiot.
“Can you? Please read it for us.” Four Leaf begged, but Rabbit looked at him with anger. She did not say much except officially presenting the comic to him for reading.
“Okay, well this is Issue #45 of Rex the Zebra Savage. Rex and the Hydra’s lair.” He began to regale them in the tale the intrepid hero. They gathered around him. One on each side making him hold the book out to them. Adjusting the view to suit theirs, and not his demands. They laughed and cheered. For Rex was their hero, and to have somepony read for them was quite the event. Sadly, once he had gotten halfway they had fallen asleep on him. Whether it was the lack of hoof-strikes or lack of sleep from some other night Wire couldn’t tell.
Great job. Now they like you. Gonna be real nice when you leave em behind huh? He wouldn’t be able to take them with him, they would just end up dead, or back as slaves again. A life in Friendship wouldn’t be so bad, but they wouldn’t be liked. He knew it. Dirty little kids, given a little bit of hope in the wastes. The doctor is an asshole.
An unnaturally loud boom rippled trough the air. As if somepony had fired a cannon right next to his ears, and then several more followed with rapid succession. The kids scrambled on top of Wire like a pack of ant’s. Four Leaf hanging by that precious brush of his and Rabbit gripped the thief by the ears. They crashed like a wasteland monstrosity, and thumbed around until the loud boom shook them from their panicked state.
“You’ve got to be fuckin kiddin.” Wire turned his head, not paying attention to the scared kids, able to make out muzzle flashes in the distance.
“Brokeback Stallion”: “In combat, you do +10% extra damage against male opponents. Outside of combat, you'll have access to unique dialogue options when dealing with the same sex.”
“Soul of a Foal” 1 Rank Prerequisites: CHR 4: “It appears you have a severe case of Scootaloo, young miss. Sad to say, this will give you some unique dialogue with children along with a tendency to be childish. You’ll also think colts have cooties way into your thirties.”
“Uneasy alliance.” 1 Rank: Prerequisites: PER 8, AGI 5, Explosives 50: “I wouldn’t want to hurt my allies, but explosives don’t exactly discriminate between friend or foe.” Well, they do now! Or maybe it is just you being damn good at timing your attacks so that your allies are shielded from most of the blast while your enemies take most of the heat.. Acts of friendly fire with explosives cause 20% less damage.”
All credits for the setting go to Kkat, author of the original story Fallout Equestria published on Equestria Daily. Please support the sidefic authors that continue to explore her universe: FO:E sidefic author homebase Gdoc.
Story is coauthored by Volk, Redundant and Damhoof.
Big hugs to DamnfoolBrony author of "Kiss Equestria Goodbye."
Hungry. Death is hungry and walks on four legs. Click, click. The hammer goes. Notifying its wielder that he needs to reload and that his choice of weapon will do poorly against the approaching pack of savage beasts intent on feasting upon his flesh. You could barely see them in the distance, naked pink rats, with glistening radioactive muscles roaring their defiance against a natural death.
The closest ones stopped as if suddenly now realising that the two of them where here. Shock over this discovery quickly turned to a gleeful hungry roar, and sensing prey the herd charged forward.
“Scorch!” Dawn bravely risked a quick glance over to his situational body guard, and noticed her fiddling with the shotgun she had taped to her battle-saddle, she gives him an upset grunt in return. Panicked he levitated up the nearest spare gun from one of the recent dead, and emptied the clip before throwing it towards the approaching herd of feral ponies. “We go.”
The two ponies ran, and the ghoul herd chased them across the large ruined city park. They raced past dead and blackened trees, rotten benches, a ruined sandbox with melted lumps of prewar toys, a small dragon on a spring for children to ride on. With the speed of these ghoul ponies, there was hardly time to reload, let alone stop to shoot, but the traders from inside the shelter had heard the commotion and began peppering the crowd of bloodthirsty zombies. Shortly after followed the howling sound of shells being fired from somewhere out of sight, and the pack of ghouls ended up significantly diminished.
Dawn was tired of running too. He stopped and thanked the heavens. “Wire.”
The doctor’s world was spinning from all the running, but that did not stop him from grabbing the biggest thing he could find, a ruined prewar bench, and magically pummelling the last of the ghouls to death. Even outnumbered two to one the beast kept going to Dawn with a terrifying hunger in its eyes. “Please.”
The bench crashes into the ghoul with a hard thud. “Please.” The ghoul moaned in pain and roared once again in hunger.
Dawn slammed the bench into the beast until there was only silence and goo. “Please, just stay dead.”
Tired from running, and angry over the fact that his negotiations had failed this hard Dawn felt the need to cry on somepony’s shoulder, but there was nopony here except Scorch and she was busy looting the now dead ghouls. “Luna. Ugh and you sicken me. This is so gross.”
“What? You act like you’ve never looted a body before.” Scorch looked back at him from the slits of her heavy welding mask that was covering her face, and then she went back to rummaging trough backpacks of the recently deceased.
“I haven’t. It’s called respecting the dead, and I am a doctor. Not some common wastelander.” He looked to the clouds with a mournful expression, and then recalled how close to the leader ghoul he had been when shit had hit the fan. “Oh, Celestia. Do I have any of that gross green stuff on me?”
Scorch turned, and laughed while giving the doctor an inspection. “That green shit is all over you. Might wan'ta check a mirror.”
“What?” He checked his chest and sniffled with disgust, and then levitated down his bonnet, looking at the green crap that now stained it. Luckily the hat had protected most of his mane. “Oh my goddess.” He sent the corpse of the ghoul leader glares of death while Scorch laughed, and went back to digging through the dead ponies’ pockets.
“This wouldn’t have happened if you had a working flamer, or had magic worth a damn.” He had not forgotten that either, and Dawn felt like being angry at somepony. Scorch was just the only pony nearby.
“What the hell did you just say?” Scorch stood up from her looting position and turned to meet Dawn.
“You heard me.” He levitated out the large revolver and pulled out the magazine. Casually reloading it to intimidate, or maybe he just felt deep inside that Scorch could actually take offence, and seriously consider beating him up. “You are about as good in combat as I am with guns, and I am the doctor here.”
Scorch began walking towards him, obviously feeling insulted. “So you think I’m useless then?”
Dawn shuffled backwards, and had problems fitting the last bullets into the revolver magazine. Stupid bullet why wasn’t it going inside? “No. No. No. No. I’ve just seen better is all.”
“Then why are you hiding behind your little gun? Scared of the useless mare.” Her expression was hidden from sight by the welding mask, but the anger in her voice made it all apparent. Somepony was about to get beaten to a pulp.
“I dunno, maybe.” Dawn abandoned reloading, and tried clocking in the magazine into the revolver, but his last problematic bullet had not gone into the chamber all the way. the doctor quickly fell to his haunches in defeat.
“That’s what I thought.” Scorch leaned in close. “Don’t ever do that again, or you’ll see just how useless I can be.” She straightened herself up and turned away from him. Her hind-hoof struck his shoulder as she went back to loot the remaining bodies.
He looked at the large revolver and continued to reload in silence. Afterwards, he traded the gun for a piece of cloth and used some of that water. It wasn’t much of a plan, but washing the goo off the bonnet, and himself was a much better plan than going back to Scorch at this moment in time. The old him would have laughed her up in the face, but there wasn’t much to laugh about. All he could do was stare failure in the face while watching the shutters of the shelter go up.
The first to approach them was a pony with a coat of red that was offset by a braided black mane and bearing the scent of a well traveled mare. The overall look was made complete with a worn down battle-saddle that had rifles on the sides, and she also had a distinct scarring around her left front-leg. There was a brown hat too with a wide brim that hung around her neck. “You have our thanks wanderers. I’m Rose of the Crimson caravan trading company. My caravan has been stuck here for over a week. With most of our mercenaries dead along the road, those ghoul ponies tried to take advantage, but I knew better. We counted our food, and decided to wait for Friendship to send aid. You are welcome to spend the night at our fire so long as you keep your hooves clean.”
“Friendship city did send something alright.” Dawn grimaced with embarrassment, but kept cleaning himself of the green goo. Fortunately it had not dried yet, so it was still relatively easy to work with.
She looked at him in surprise, and then with suspicion. “So you are with Friendship? It’s not like them to send random ponies out, or leave traders hanging for a week just a day’s trot from their own city. What the fuck are they doing?”
Dawn shrugged his shoulders and levitated out a bullet intended for his newly acquired revolver. “Have any of these? I have a limited supply of bullets.”
“Nope. The crimson caravan only carries rifle ammo, pistol ammo and shotgun shells. Easier to barter with. Most traders wouldn’t care to stock specialised rounds like those, and if they did they would probably charge you extra.”
“Speaking of bartering, could you maybe offer some monetary discounts on anything purchased by my party for saving you the inconvenience of staying in that shelter for a few more days? Say Twenty percent?”
She flexed her jaw muscles, and chewed on the argument while nodding in agreement. “Ten, and you better spend some caps.”
“You see this bonnet?” Dawn floated it forward, and revealed the green residue he had been unable to remove so far. “This was an untouched pre-war bonnet, and now it’s soiled because I tried to help you as best as I could. I think I would surely recall how Rose and the Crimson caravan gave me those 20 percent, and spread the word that they are fair traders who never deal with scum, and always meet their deals.”
She drew an irritable smile and drew closer. “Fifteen. Since you asked so nicely, but if you ask me again. I will go back to ten and you will sleep out in the cold.”
Dissatisfied the doctor quickly bid Rose farewell, and headed into the shelter, mostly to talk with the other traders, and the first he took notice off was a mare selling saddle bags. These seemed to be made of finer quality than his own. Purple colors, the equestrian symbol of Celestia rising the sun on a tear-proof fabric that could withstand the elements and..
“Really? A spell that enlarges the space in your bags?”
The doctor carefully examined the insides, and pressed his hoof inside to gauge the difference. This purple wonder was indeed bigger on the inside, and comforting too. He wanted this, so he could have more room for his growing wardrobe, but he had to downplay its significance to lower the price further. “Doesn’t look that much bigger to me.”
The reality was this saddepack he was examining had nearly twice the size of his own bags on the inside. “Lets say seven hundred and fifty caps.”
“Damn, that bag is way bigger on the inside! That’s gotta be really expensive.” Scorch appeared next to the two ponies, mask still on and bag filled with random weapons and miscellaneous items.
Attempting to salvage his barter the doctor looked towards Scorch’s hoard with disgust. “Why is there a ghoul hoof sticking out of the sides there?”
“What hoof?” Scorch looked back on her loot. “Oh that one. Had some jewelry stuck on it, I couldn’t get it off, so I just took the whole thing. Makes for a nice back-scratcher.”
“Go. Be gross elsewhere.” Giving her his best adults are talking expression Dawn turned back to the trader. “A thousand caps for the bag then.”
“You take weapons?” Scorch turned to the merchant mare and flipped up her heavy mask. “I’ve got some extra.”
“Did you talk to Rose? She is the one that deals with guns.” The trader responded. “Rose can be critical, but she is fair, and the bag is five thousand caps.”
“Um, Which one is Rose?” Scorch asked.
“She is up front, wearing a nice hat. You just went right past her?” He pointed her towards Rose. She was busy inspecting the aftermath of their battle. He seriously needed this bag, and now Scorch had fucked up the price to more than he was willing to pay. “Five thousand caps for the bag? We did help you get out of here, and Rose did promise us a discount.”
“You actually had those caps? I thought you were bluffin’ back there.” Scorch commented as she looked at the other traders, searching for Rose.
“Does it matter? We still ended up shooting him, and all of his ghoul friends.” The doctor drew a strained smile behind clenched teeth. Was she going to take away Bartering? His favourite past-time?
“Aha! There she is.” Scorch left Dawn to barter with the merchant and ran over to talk with Rose while this mare salespony pointed at several bright threads that lined the insides of the bag.
“These are Arcano-tech sewing lines that enhances and stabilises the enlarging effect. The cloth used is some kind of spell weaved cloth. Don’t know much else except that it is time consuming and a delicate process. There is a factory in Trottingham that sews these, and the owners did not care to explain the entire process to me.”
A pile of caps exchanged hooves. Dawn still had plenty of caps left, but it still felt wrong to hand this much over. It went against his principles.
At least he could seek comfort in the fact that the “bottomless” bag was his. Dawn began to transfer stuff from his old one into the purple saddlebag. The doctor had more than half the space left even after putting everything inside, and it even felt lighter. This was awesome.
Wire approached them with the two foals, and carried Four Leaf on his back with Rabbit jumping around. Had something happened? Deciding to take the gentle approach Dawn trotted forward to meet them. “Wire? Why is my brush stuck in your mane?”
The thief tried to look at the back of his head, but to no avail. “I almost forgot about that. This one is more than a hoof full.” Motioning at the colt on his back.
“Four Leaf? He is such a quiet little thing. Very brave too.” Dawn untangled the brush from Wire’s mane with magic, and then began roughhousing the thief's mane with it. Wielding it with a practiced hoof. “When was the last time you did something nice with your mane for a change? I haven’t seen this bad a mane since.” The doctor shuddered in horror but was interrupted by Rabbit.
“But, Leafy’s hoof is hurt.” Rabbit looked at the doctor with grim determination. “Stop brushing and help my bestest friend noaw.”
Four Leaf nodded in agreement with a heroic face. “It’s true. I was only walking, and now it hurts real bad with every step. Can you fix it Ma’am.”
The doctor snickered. “Naturally. I’ll just wave my magic horn, make everything alright, and then we shall get back to this rats-nest you call a mane.” Four Leaf presented his hind hoof and as soon as he had touched it radiant energies began to spread across the buck. Much to his amazement Leaf stomped a few times in the ground and cheered. “Thank you thousand times. You are the best princess Dawn, but don’t let Celestia hear it. She locks ponies in the moon. I haven’t seen this moon, but I hear it is a terrible place. Filled with teachers, and bananas, and this super evil thing called a magic kinder-garden.”
“I’ll make sure not to mention it to her.” Picking up the brush with his magic Dawn dragged the thief back into position and began inspecting. “I will shampoo you later mister. We don’t have the means to it now, but I will.”
“Can’t we just leave it as is? World’s not gonna end again if my mane is disheveled.” He rolled his eyes as the comb continued to fight its way through his mane.
“No. I have to do this.” He stated bluntly, but neglected to tell Wire the reason. How dared Scorch treat him like this? He had simply made an assessment of her usefulness's in combat, and she dares to flip out. Well I’ll show her one hair at the time. “Shame we don't have a water talisman or soap.”
“Uh, my mane was never this bad right?” Four Leaf stated with confidence. “Gross, is that an earthworm? Eew it’s a bit of dried food.”
“I knew we should have burned it.” Rabbit looked to Scorch, and nodded for herself. “No amount of hoof-strikes will clean this mane. We could ask her to burn it.”
Four Leaf disagreed and shook his head while blocking the route to Scorch. “No. We can’t burn his mane. We must salvage it. Right Wire? You can have some of mine. We just need some Wonderglue.”
“I get it. It’s not very nice and pretty like Doc over here.” He was becoming a bit irate with the spot light being held on him for far to long.
“Damn straight. Now sit tight and let us pretty your useless face up.” Rabbit looked up to Wire. The small framed thief was not that intimidating, and he was not that tall either especially now that Doc was making him bow his head down to get at the "hard to reach spot" on his mane. Worse she had a piece of rag that had been dipped in water. “It’s time bitch. Now close yer mouth. No bickering or you taste the hoof.” The white filly stated with intent as she began scrubbing Wire’s face with all her might.
Four leaf tried to help by stabilising the thief on the other side. Trying to provide him with some comfort while his partner in crime began raping his left cheek.
Between acts of violent cleaning, Wire managed a quick observation on the situation, “So I take it trying to appeal to the better side of them didn’t work out huh?”
“They decided to play highwayponies instead of taking the thousands of caps I offered them.” Dawn stated with a regretful sigh following shortly after. “This Ghoul leader mentioned wanting to get back into the good graces of somepony named Barker. Same guy those ponies back at the shop mentioned.”
The two foals looked back at their work with pride. “Now you look much better. Aren’t you happy. Aren’t you?” Rabbit halfway threatened, halfway patted the thief on his muzzle.
“Oh yes, I am truly ecstatic. Words cannot express how much pleasure I have derived from this.” He said as level and monotonously as he could muster. He reciprocated the muzzle patting to Rabbit, rolling his eyes a bit.
“You don’t sound very happy.” Rabbit pouted. “Didn’t we do a good enough job?”
“Oh you did.” Dawn said after a thorough inspection. “Though you should probably have found a brush too. His breath still stinks, and we need shampoo to make your mane any better.” He rid the brush of Wire’s leftover hair and let these vast remains float to the ground next to him.
“What am I now, your charity case?” He looked up at Dawn scratching his scalp with the edge of his worn hoof shoe.
“I. You. No.” Dawn turned away to hide his expression from the thief. “It’s just. Patient.” That did not sound right. That did not sound right at all. “It seemed as if you needed it.”
Come on you idiot. Dawn, whatever I just need to get this right. This had to sound perfect and as usual the poor doctor flounders about like some foal with his first attempt at handling a scalpel. If only the real Romeo. If only my brother was here. If only Scorch hadn’t. “I must look like a real idiot right now.” Dawn gave up trying to talk, and walked away from all the other ponies. Easily finding his own quiet spot.
Here, he could open the floodgates. These stupid foals and that stupid dress. He should never have dressed up in the first place. This was bad. This was just a whole lot of useless. Even the sugar-bombs tasted sour. "Fuck." He threw it away half eaten with some of his drool probably lingering on it. Silently the doctor began suppressing Dawn. Trying to force himself back into the locked chest. He looked at the earrings. They were shimmering in a blue magical light, and upon further inspection, you could make out small patterns written on the sides. They where like a fleeting dream that had come real just to hound him.
”Dawn, what are you doing in Mommy’s clothes?” She was a gray mare with a blood stained doctor's coat. Her mane was as crimson as his own coat. Staring at him with tired brown eyes filled with disappointment. “Your brother never gave me this kind of grief. Why cant you be more like him.”
Forcefully she magically undressed him and sat him down over her knees to spank him. “I. Will. Not. See. You. Here, Again.”
“Dawn? Dawn?” He looked up from the washed up name tag with Romeo inscribed on, and bathed in the feeling of dry wetness from already burning eyes. There was a taste of bitter salt lingering inside his mouth. Tears. Figures. Dawn always cries. Lets go guys, playing with Dawn always leads to crying. “What is it Four Leaf? Cant you see that I am busy?”
“Mommy was busy too, but we hugged when she was sad." The idiot buck wouldn't listen to reason. Instead, the foal looked towards the name-tag."Who is Romeo?”
“He was my brother.” The two hugged, and Dawn used this opportunity to attach the earrings back on. There was just no deliberating with these foals. Romeo was just a name and he would have to wait his turn. He had often used it to keep acting as if he'd laugh in the face of death or be some kind of super pony. Dawn was just Dawn now. “Let’s go see what the other’s are up to.”
The two returned to find Scorch and Rose sitting at a table, exchanging shots of something that reeked of alcohol. Clearly from the attitude around the table, it was some sort of competition. Rose lifted up her third shot glass and downed it with ease. As she put it next to two other empty glasses, the seasoned caravan mare glared expectantly at Scorch. A drinking competition now? What kind of shitty timing was this?
Not wanting to cause a scene Dawn approached her with new-found determination and employed some more grace to his words. “Scorch dear. Not to interrupt, but we kinda have stuff to do after this.”
“It can wait.” Scorch downed a shot and dropped the glass next to two others like it.
Rose had filled her fourth glass and made sure it was to the brim, then she downed hers and looked to Scorch while grinning expectantly. “That it can. The booze is on me. If, this youngster thinks she can hold her liquor better than me.”
Dawn looked to Wire, and the thief seemed to regard this with a shrug. Apparently not caring much about what state Scorch would be in after this or at least not showing it. He sighed. Was this because he had decided to take a small break from the two and try to collect the scraps of his own sanity back? “You didn’t stop her?”
Scorch poured a fourth shot and downed it quickly, adding it to the small collection of glasses. “Don’t you worry, I’ll be fine.”
This earned her some laughs in the small crowd of traders that had now gathered around them. Rose poured herself a fifth drink and downed it with a smirk of confidence “More than fine.”
Scorch drank the next shot with a grimace. “You can take my word for it.”
Wire made his way towards Dawn in a gentle, and careful manner. “Um, Doc, do you uh, have um.” He began to trail off a bit.”
“Um, what?” The doctor looked to his patient with prejudice. It was mostly anger created out of fear. Fear for floundering with words again. “I am trying to deal with having shot a band of ghouls to bits, and now Scorch has decided to try alcohol poisoning on for size. What could you possibly need Wire?”
“Well, you kind of uh, well, you know. Um.” He was defiantly struggling with something.
Seriously? The doctor’s gaze hardened, but he looked to Four Leaf that was observing the drinking competition. “Stay here and watch with Rabbit. Okay?” The foal nodded in agreement, then Dawn shoved him forward and took some steps away from the crowd. “You want Med-X? Now? Do you have any idea what this will do to your system? Do you want to be addicted again?”
“I’ve had a long day. It’s not real fun for me to be around foals all day. Especially other pony’s foals. I just need one to keep me from going overboard is all.” He was acting rather fidgety, and looked like he was trying to hide something behind his back. Given his small statue, not much would be hidden by him.
“I’m uh, not good with these things.” His tone was almost as if he expected help to form a sentence, trying to figure out the correct things to say. “I uh, don’t want to.” Once again his voice began trailing off.
“Don’t want to what Wire?” Shaking his head Dawn just walked up to the thief and looked him in the eyes. “Just this once. Tell me.”
“I’m from the future, here to make sure certain event happen as they’re supposed to. You don’t want the future of pony kind to be undone?”
“Oh great and powerful time-pony. Is it a nice future? How many foals do I have? What happens when the muffin crust breaks?” Dawn cracked a smile. Not intending to accept any of his bullshit, but still sane enough to let it tempt him.
“It’s uh, a wonderful place with stuff and sunshine, and foals can run through the grass.” His tone was faux, full of wonder, very unlike his normal self. When it didn’t work Wire had a look of conflict on his face, but then he returned back to a more relaxed look, “How about uh. Chems for information. You give me med-X, I tell you things. Things that will, uh, help you unravel the reason I, um, need my chems.”
“You only need one. Ugh, fine, but first you tell me what you are hiding.” Dawn stopped trying to benchpress Wire’s hooves out and instead presented a vial of Wire’s favourite past time. Drugs. “We got a deal?”
“Yeah sure.” His attempt to get it was foiled by the magical field enveloping it. He shot Dawn a dirty look. “Not here, too many ponies around.”
“Alright. Then pick a spot. Then we talk” The two wandered out and behind the corner of the shelter. They were alone, and Wire seemed almost eager to start.
“Okay. I've been gallivanting around with those kids all damn day. Now it’s not that I hate kids, it’s just.” This obviously wasn’t easy for Wire, but Dawn wanted. Needed to understand why the thief was killing himself with drugs. “I don’t want to see them end up as my daughter did.”
“Please. Nopony would be fooled by this.” Dawn rolled his eyes at the thief and laid the syringe with Med-X back into his saddlebag. “Looks like you didn’t want the drugs so bad that you’d tell the truth for once. Think I'll be keeping them then.”
“No buts. You just told me whatever you felt would be convenient, and then thought you could get drugs from it. I don’t even know if it is the truth or lies, but I refuse to give drugs to you regardless.” Was this time to leave? Dawn stayed and listened as a cheer went on from the inside of the shelter. The crowd was trotting to something. “I do this because I actually care Wire. Now excuse me. I’m gonna go check on Scorch.”
“Whatever...” The thief replied to his back.
The doctor headed back in time to see two stubborn idiots at their tenth glass. Scorch was wavering, but still remained in the game while Rose had begun to sweat. The difference between them were quite clear. Rose would win. Dawn poked the coated mare in the shoulder and got no visible reaction. “Scorch. You don’t need to do this.”
“Yesh I doo.” She pounded through another shot and slammed it back down on the table. “I’m shtill in this!”
“I don’t know what this is, but it is really cool.” Rabbit jumped up and down. The two foals cheering her on. Meanwhile, Rose had downed her eleventh glass with professional ease. Scorch on the other hoof had to rely on her little cheerleader for help. “You can do it.”
Scorch tipped the little glass and grimaced again as she dropped it back on the table. “Shee? I told you I could doo it.” Scorch said in a drunk and slightly triumphant tone. Her head started to bob and weave backwards and forwards. “Shtop moovin’ aroound sho musch, yer makin’ me all diizzyyyy...” Her voice trailed off as her head came crashing down on the table with a loud thunk.
“Scorrchh. Ish yerr turrn.” Rose waved her empty glass at the mare, and when she did not respond Rabbit tried to wake her hero up.
The doctor shook her body with worry. Would he have to drain her of alcohol? Dawn did not have the means to do that here. “Oh bother. Let’s get you to bed.” With a combination of magic and some help from one of the spectators Scorch was heaved into one of the many beds within the shelter, and the resident bucket was brought out from underneath one of those beds. It was a rusty thing barely good enough for vomit. “Scorch, Scorch? Can you hear me?” Forcefully opening one of her eyelids. Dawn began patting her on the back gently at first, but soon began adding force. “I’d rather you let out some of that liquid on your own.”
He could hear a distant cheer from the traders again, but was not going to abandon Scorch now just to satiate his curiosity. “Dammit..”
Scorch groaned faintly before her eyes opened and she heaved into the bucket. She stared at it for a few moments before speaking again. “Eeeeww, thatsh nashty. I’m gonna go ta shleeep now.” Scorch flopped back onto the bed and fell asleep almost instantly.
Great. She was going to be fine now. Dehydration and a headache laid in wait, but she would be fine. The doctor made sure Scorch truly was asleep before replacing the bucket, so she could wake up and puke again if necessary. “Good Night Scorch. Thanks for help with those ghoul ponies.”
Dawn drew a satisfied smile and headed back out. By now the traders would have calmed down, and things would finally be back to normal.. He was greeted by another cheer. They had apparently found somepony else to amuse themselves with. The doctor looked for Wire’s blond coat but didn’t see the thief anywhere. Worse Rabbit and Four leaf were not exactly visible either.
“One. More. One. More.” The small crowd chanted, and then exploded in a mixture of laughter and applause. What in the hay was this? That was when he saw the tiny form on top of the table. A white filly wiggling with some unstable movements as if the solid ground underneath her had become unstable ground and giggling uncontrollably. No, no. This was impossible. She was basking in the attention, but grimaced when the shot glass was presented to her. Gripping it with both her hooves in a hesitant manner and then she downed it while rocking backwards. Four Leaf caught her in time, and seemed hard at work trying to talk some sense into his best of friends.
“What the hell is this?!” In a fit of righteous fury, the doctor grabbed Rabbit by her neck, and proceeded to lift her away. “Scorch wasn’t enough? You had to go after the foals next?“ The little white ball of fur tried to resist, but she had drunk too much to make anything off it. The way her eyes went you would think she thought herself lost in some fantasy world and fighting imaginary demons. “She can’t even speak coherently anymore.”
He looked to Rose who looked pretty lousy too. Sweating profusely, and swaying in an unstable manner. “She started it. Damn fillies. No damn youngster beats Rose. Nopony.”
“How many?” Dawn asked the crowd with worry. “She’s a child. This.” He pointed at an empty bottle of that foul liquid. “Is not meant for her to drink. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.”
“Five. She drank five glasses.” The black colt looked to her with concern for his friend, but Dawn already had enough to deal with so he took the white hurricane away. She had calmed down considerably already, and looked near death exhausted. Luna give me patience. It was just a matter of getting her to puke. “Come on. Come on.” Applying some of his knowledge he got her to regurgitate most of the liquid out again, and with lots of water, she would be okay. Four Leaf was a delightful helper, and when they were done he emptied the bucket without protest.
“You need to be more firm.” Dawn yawned to the two now using him as a bed. Only Leaf was awake, and he nodded back. “I didn’t think she’d do it. We both said the juice tasted bad, but that didn’t stop her.” He could see the conflict. Not wanting to stop his friend from doing what she wanted.
Everypony had been pretty occupied when the drinking contest started. It was a decent distraction, enough that he could check a few ponies pack’s for Med-X. It was useless though. Thankfully Dawn was asleep, and Wire was able to slip a single syringe off him without getting noticed. He needed it. An entire day with those two foals was just too much, he couldn’t take it.
Too many unpleasant memories, too many good ones. It was all a distraction that would make him screw up just like he does every other time. He doesn’t get it. I need this. To shoot this thing without blowing myself up? He’s just greedy, wanting them all for himself.
He stuck the needle in his neck and slowly released the prewar medicine into his system. It felt fantastic. Like he was flying high above this horribly depressing world. He could do anything right now, no pony could stop him. Instead, he opted to sit and relax for the first time in a while. Stretching his legs out, trying not to look at the white that stained the tips of his forehooves. Like I’m running around in little socks.
He looked up, trying to catch a glimpse at the moon. But the sky wasn’t cooperating. Just stodgy old clouds filled with mundane, elderly ponies. Wait a minute.
He did a double take at this. Barely able to make it out from the cloud cover, but it was there. Oh great, what now? All those ghost stories from back home coming true? No, it was worse than ghosts, It was the teal pegasus from Friendship city. The one that had forced him into this situation in the first place. If I shot him dead, would anypony care? Would they know it was me? Ugh, too late now.
“What kind of snails pace did you lot keep from Friendship? This is almost half a day later than I expected.” Charger looked at the thief with a set of military grade goggles stuck on his face. He landed nearby and set about casually pretending that what amounted to something like a day’s journey on hoof had not made him tired at all, but Wire could see it.
The way Chargers chest moved and the amount of sweat from his red and blonde hair were clear signals to the perceptive thief. “I take it that the rest are inside, and enjoying some kind of reward?” Chargers voice was slightly muffled by the comfortable high collar vest he was wearing. The kind of thing with a lot of pockets, and it was thick. Probably layered with lightly armored plates.
“Well look who decided to join us. Not had to move that much since going to Friendship huh?”
Charger ignored that question, and instead looked towards the bodies of the dead ghouls that had now been ransacked by Scorch. “Dead?” He opened his collar only to spit with disgust on the ground, and then looked back to Wire. Those damn goggles made it impossible to see Charger’s full expression. “I’ll be helping you the rest of this Celestia forsaken quest.”
Fuck. Why the hell does fate keep adding to this disaster. “Great.” He rolled his eyes so hard, they almost flew out of his head.
“Did you know that there are a pack of manticores near the hospital entrance?” Charger seemed to delight in Wire’s apparent suffering, and had apparently decided to spoil everything awaiting them. “Oh you didn’t know? I guess you could offer praise the one pony with wings that scouted ahead, and figured shit out.”
“I would have walked around, or let others take em by force. But one more piece of fodder will do nicely.”
Charger pulled out a cigarette, and then lit it using a shiny silver lighter with some feathery insignia on it.
“Only one entrance sadly. These steel rangers were mighty crafty, and made use of the shudder protection system against well, larger scale warfare. Ensuring themselves that only the front entrance could be used to enter the building.
Figured I’d be the distraction and then you lot run inside while the pack hunts me down. Sadly you would be racing against a bunch of slavers, and only Luna knows what kind of tech or stupid plan they might have scrounged up while you lot wasted a ton of time meandering around. Sightseeing no doubt.”
“You wouldn’t happen to have another one of those?” One of those sure would hit the spot right now. Wire took a moment to briefly look over Chargers black outfit. He had seen the symbols on the battle saddle before on other pegasus on some kind of poster. They had all worn a full-body black armour with a scorpion tail though, and even if Charger merely had a battle saddle and a black utility vest with a high collar Wire’s nonexistent trust in the pegasus just got lower.
“Maybe. Here, take mine.” He handed Wire the cigarette from his mouth and brought out a full pack of smokes from one of many pockets lining hos pitch black utility vest. Soon Charger was puffing smoke from another fresh cigarette like a greedy foal. “Every-pony is entitled to a last one before they take on a mission that may or may not end up in them dying.”
“I wanted a smoke, not your high and mighty preachings.” Cocky bastard he is, he’ll be dead before sundown.
“Oh, my little earth-pony.” Charger smiled from ear to ear, and then puffed out a cloud of smoke that he had shaped into a circle. The smoke seemed to capture Wire’s face and framed it in. Afterwards, the pegasus began stretching his wings restlessly. “You should be thankful that I even bothered to come help a clumsy thief, and a tavern brawler that travels around with a junked battle saddle.” Flexing his wings again, Charger looked to Wire as if expecting something, and when nothing happened he headed on inside.
Wanting to keep tabs on the pony that was so much more than just a security guard, he eased up to the window, and let the reverberations of the voices inside make their way to his ears.
“Well, if it isn’t The crimson caravan. A bit reduced in size since last i saw you.” There was a muffled silence that he had brought with him from the outside, and then Rose’s voice broke it up. Slurred from having drunk goddess knows how much, but it was still possible to make sense out of. “If it isn’t Blueballs. My favourite security pony. Bringsh you out ‘ere?”
“Babysitting. Where are the rest of the ponies that saved your sorry flanks?” Then there was the sound of hoof steps as a pony showed him further into the shelter.
With light steps and some ducking Wire kept within the range, so he could hear their conversation.
“Charger, what are you? Why are you here?” Dawn voiced his surprise, and probably did not appreciate being woken up.
“I could ask you the same things. I'll answer in time.” He muttered with disdain back at the doctor. “Ugh. Smells like somepony couldn't hold their liquor. Look. Just move out whenever you are ready to move Doctor.” There was a sound. The sound of Charger lifting of, and not soon after he was outside again while drinking some water and looking for him. It was easy to read that he loathed being stuck with them. “Looks like you slowpokes will be staying here for the night. I’ll scout ahead, and do something useful.”
The pegasus made his swift exit without waiting for a reply, and vanished into the horizon.
Eyup, not to be trusted in the least. Wire may not have been the most loyal of ponies, or reliable. Or for that matter, ever walked the line of good karma, but he knew a trap when a saw one. The hospital was supposed to be the easy wrap up job as Charger put it when they left. Now that redheaded-blondie was showing up to give them assistance? He would hold his tongue for now, but he was going to sleep with one eye open for the time being.
A few hours had passed, the sun was creeping skyward. Light filtered through the could cover in small spots, it filled up to hide any sun beams. He had seen the full beauty of the sky once. The light blues and the crisp yellow of Celestia, of past’s magnificent sun.
The Med-X coursed through his small body. It’s always better when it isn’t yours. He hadn’t truly needed it, just a bit of escape to help pass the time when everypony else was sleeping. Save for being stabbed, this task had been a cakewalk. Sure, the thief wished to make it look like he was struggling and couldn’t handle even the smallest group of enemies, but that was not exactly true. Wire liked to keep the expectations for him very, very low, that way he could skate by, or let the other two do most of the work for him. Easiest caps he would make for a long time, he imagined.
Might as well go give them a warm wakeup call. The other ponies were giving Wire looks, but he payed them no attention. He opened the door to the room with Scorch, Dawn and the foals. He pulled a chair up from the wall and laid down in it, letting time take its course.
“Wire? Wire.” Dawn’s voice and some poking woke up the thief. The doctor looked reluctant to wake Scorch on his own, but now that the two of them were awake. “We should probably get going sooner rather than later, and the small ones want food, so could you? Wake her up while I make some oats?”
With all the care and sensitivity in the world, Wire smushed his hoof into the side of Scorch’s face. “Hey, you, wake up.”
“I’ll go make those oats.” Doc pushed the fillies out of the room. “Lets go eat you two. That means you too Rabbit.”
“Hey, you, wake up.”
Scorch could feel hooves jabbing her in the face.
“Fuck off!” She forcefully shoved away the hooves prodding her face and rolled over trying to cling on to what sleep shew could salvage. “I’m tryin’ to sleep.”
“Just wake up will you.” He was pushing on her side, “Nopony told you to drink yourself into a coma.”
“I told you, fuck off.” Scorch flailed a hoof in the voice’s direction. She tried to ignore the voices and go back to sleep, but she was already awake.
“Fine, don’t get any food. Yeah, just try and do the job at hoof while barely coherent, and hungry.” Wire rolled his eyes and went back to his chair. “For somepony who likes liquor, you sure can’t handle it.”
“Fuck you pygmy.” Scorch sat up, and immediately an axe split through her head. She squinted to try and shut out the pain, only to have her stomach rise in revolt. She vomited into the bucket at the side of her bed. And fuck you too hangover.
“I don't feel so good either.” Rabbit looked up at her besides the bucket with a sickly expression. The white earth pony was carrying one of their bottles of water and was drinking from it greedily. After screwing the cork on the filly jumped up at the bed Scorch was lying on. Presenting the bottle to her with a smile. ”Here. Dawn said it helps against the hurt in the head.”
“Thanks.” Scorch accepted the bottle and drained it of what water was left. Her stomach rumbled demanding food. I’m hungry, where’s the food. “Food?”
“Dawn said to go get it.” The little foal grinned and plucked at the empty bottle with an impressed expression. “You want me to go get it for ya?”
“Dawn said it?” Fuck him. I’m not that hungry. He can shove it where the sun don’t shine. “Uh, no thanks.” Scorch didn't know what to say to Rabbit. “I can get it on my own.”
“I saw the competition with the lady. You drank a lot of adult juice. Did you puke too? I didn’t get to see cuz I was busy, an' I asked Leaf, but he always agrees.” The last part seemed to upset her somewhat. She stomped her hoof at the end, and then looked up on Scorch again. “Stupid Dawn pulled me away even if I was winning.”
“What do you mean?” How long ago did I pass out, what the hell did I miss?
She took Scorch’s silence as praise enough and nodded her head.
“Uhuh, I think it was four glasses, and I was like woozy and stuff. But the red pony was really bowing down and just maybe a few more. I think I could drink a few more, but Dawn was being all mommy and stuff. She didn’t let me drink the adult juice either.” Rabbit held a strange sense of pride through the entire thing. “I was going to pay you back for teaching us to make the fire bottle, and all the nice fire, and then Rose was being all meanie face. Rose said you were a pansy and a lightweight, and I know that’s what slavers call good for nothin's. So I said to her I was gonna take over, and then she laughed. But I drank a glass of the adult juice and put it next to yours and then she was all kinds of silent. I called her a chicken and she said nopony drinks her under the table and IT. WAS. ON.” The filly gestured all over the place, trying to enact the scene from memory. Then she fell on her haunches. “The stupid Dawn ruined it all. I was feelin' amazing, and I was winning but they wouldn't let me have more drink and then the competition was over, and I felt really bad in my tummy. Leaf said I vomited after, and tha’ ah’m no lightweight, but you drank ten whole glasses and I don’t know if you vomited too cuz if’n you didn’t I’d be a lightweight.”
“But why’d you do it?” I’m not still dreaming am I? This is probably a dream.
“Didn’t you listen at all? Dammit. I’ll go get some food maybe that will speed your brain up.” Rabbit sighed with disappointment. Then shejumped down with the empty bottle of water and spent a moment looking back up at the confused Scorch. “I told you. That Rose called you a Pansy, and said you were a lightweight. Ah said I’d make up the difference, so now you owe me more lessons. Okay?”
I remember that. I guess it isn’t a dream after all. “You earned them but first what do you say we go and get a little somethin’ special.”
“Something special?” Rabbit repeated the words with a curious look and then nodded. “Kay, but that ain’t part of the deal.”
“Of course it ain’t. All heroes deserve treat's, don’t they?”
“The mares back at camp got sumthin special all the time. Not quite sure what bein’ a hero has to do with it.” There was some apparent confusion in Rabbit's face. “Ah’d never done sumthin’ special before, but I guessed you’d do the special better than...” Rabbit’s voice trailed off, and for a moment, the filly looked lost in thought. “Them other ponies.”
“What are you talk- oh...” That’s fucked up. What did those slaver fucks do to her? She forced the anger back down. There’s nothing you can do about it now. “I didn’t mean it like that. I was talkin’ about cake.”
“Cake?” Rabbit looked confused again. “I don’t know any cake. What is it?”
“You’ve never had cake before? It’s like, um...” She tried to find the right words. “Well, it’s cake.” Scorch looked around for her flamer and saw it leaned against the wall next to her bed. Reaching into the bag she pulled out a crumpled cardboard box. “This is cake.”
“Smells funny.” Attracted to the creamy pastry Rabbit nearly poked her muzzle into it, and then she looked to Scorch with youthful curiosity.. “So this is your special something? This is what a hero deserves?”
“Well, if she doesn’t, I will partake.” Wire grinned as he appeared behind the two.
“Ey. I was first, and Scorch said she was sharin’ with me.” Rabbit was obviously not happy with the intrusion. Blushing, she began stepping on the ground impatiently. Lifting her hooves one by one and putting them on the ground again with small, energetic clops. “Ah was first, and you are second. Ah didn’t even know what cake was. Ah still don’t so get in line cuntface. Ah beat Brick when he was sneakin’ and he was..- ah. Taller than you.” Her voice had begun rising into higher octaves, and then suddenly she stopped. Not just to catch her breath. Her shoulders relaxed realising she wasn’t somewhere else. “Oh.” Rabbit scratched her hoof on the floor with a hardened expression. “Uhm. Ah don’t like when ponies go sneakin’ in the line.”
“I wasn’t sneakin, I was just voicin my opinion is all.” He gave the sorriest excuse of an Innocent face while he looked at the dingy box of snack cakes.
“We should spit on the cake. That way he won’t sneak off with it.” Rabbit looked at the thief. Inspecting his innocent face. “Cuz we have cooties, and bucks don’t touch the stuff with cooties.”
“Piss off Wire, this isn’t for you.” Scorch waved a hoof at Wire to shoo him away. “Here, take it. I promise you’ll like it.” She offered the box to Rabbit that quickly accepted it. The filly proceeded to open it, and then she leaned on the box. Sticking a hoof out, before beginning to lick it. She made a pleasurable squeal at the taste and ripped out a piece. Gobbling it up hungrily, she looked to Scorch before taking another bite.
“Iwsh whririlyl gowd.” She muttered out with cake frosting coming out of her nose.
“I said. You’d like it.”
Rabbit nodded and took another bite. “I need to share some to Leafy. Can I take this part?” She waved her hoof at some of the remaining cake. “It really was sumthin special. Ah still don’t see what heroe's have to do with delicious food-stuff.”
“You don’t know what a hero is?”
“I only know the bad-ponies don’t want no’pony ta play one. An’ Mommy just tell me that a hero is strong like Rex. I used to train super often to be just like Rex.” She took another bite of the cake and looked up to Scorch with cake crust still on her lips. “C’n you teach me to use that knife? I saw Rex use a blade once, but Graymane wouldn’t let me have one ta practice with.”
“Sure, I can teach you.” Fire and knife fighting lessons? I should start charging.
“Yay.” Rabbit took another piece of the cake, and then another. Beaming with joy while having the sugary food stuffed in her mouth. “It’s a promise.” The filly mumbled between her chewing. “I’ma share this part with Leaf.” Rabbit took another piece and ripped apart a piece of the box to keep it on. Then she carried it away and disappeared into the main hall of the shelter while shouting for her foal-friend.
“Well, well, well,” Wire began as he came up from behind Scorch, “Looks as if somepony has takin a likin to a certain little filly.”
“Fuck you. You were carryin’ one on your back.” Scorch’s head pulsed with pain. “Now piss off before you make my headache worse.”
“Or, I can make it better. Hell, even go away, if you’re willin to do me a favor.” .
“What kind of favor.” If It’ll get you out of my mane, I will go to the damn moon.
“If you haven't noticed, doc is havin this high and mighty "No chems for Wire" Idea in his head,” The thief began doing a terrible impression of Dawn. “I just need a third party pony, you, to take a few of my goods and trade for some items.” He rolled his eyes a bit, “Nopony here will trade with me, I’m pretty damn sure it’s his doin'.”
“Fine, what do you want?”
“Mostly Med-X, but I’m also good with Dash, Stampede, or Buck.”
“If I get some of that Stampede and a shot of Med-X you got yourself a deal.”
“Good, now, you’ll need this.” He pulled a satchel off of his pack, “Don’t drop this, it’s liable to explode. But it’s worth a good amount of caps.”
“Splittin’ with one of your precious bombs? You’re desperate aren’t you?”
“Uh, sure, bombs, yeah, I need some chems.” He did the most pitiful face he could muster, “Who knows how long I’ve got.”
“Just gimme the stuff and I’ll get the chems.” Scorch gabbed at the satchel with her hooves. “Gimme.”
“Okay then, hurry back. I guess you can get you something if you have any leftover caps. Maybe another present for your filly.” An assholeish smile on his face as he shoed Scorch off.
“Yeah sure, whatever.” Dick. After carelessly stuffing the pile of junk, she’d been given Scorch went off the find the traders. She found Rose by the side, gulping water from a soon to be empty can. The crimson trader looked up noticing her drinking buddy. Rose smiled and then nodded sagely. “Good morning. Good timing too. We are heading out soon, and I wanted to give you a bottle before splitting ways. Said something I shouldn’t, and figured some more liquor would set things straight.”
“How could I say no to that.”
“Hehe. How can one say no to free booze? Depends on who hands it to you.” Rose snickered and handed Scorch a bottle of purest liquid from her satchel. “We best get going. There’s a job offer waiting for ponies like yourself. When the caravan heads back out after spending some time in Friendship of course.”
“Thanks, I’m looking forward to seein’ you back at friendship. You owe me a rematch.” Scorch swapped the bottle for the mess of junk that Wire gave her. “You got any chems that you could trade for... whatever this is?”
“Heh. Is the white one your's? That filly lives a few more years, and she would probably drink us both under the table.” Rose looked at the junk Scorch carried and took it all. “I’ll see if I can’t arrange for something. Friendship wasn’t much of a drug friendly city anyhow.”
With the stuff at hoof, Rose hailed a pony from the small herd of backpacker traders. A sleek scholarly type with a dark green coat. He looked from Rose to Scorch with tired magenta eyes. “What? This?” He managed to say during a sleepy gasp. Levitating the merchandise closer for a better look.
“This stuff for drugs Dennis. I know how much you enjoy conversing with Dawn. Sharing spells or whatnot, but be quick about this. Anything we can spare. Except Buck, and Mintals. Those actually sell.”
With a green glow on his telekinesis field, Dennis set about exchanging wares. Scorch soon had a small storage of assorted Dash inhalers, two syringes of med-X, and some Stampede lying next to her. Dennis yawned again, and claimed the deal done. “Anything else?” Rose looked to the crimson caravan and then back to the fire-mare. “We’d best be on our way if we want to reach friendship before it gets too dark.”
“Yes. You should get going.” A flash of teal and blue landed next to Scorch. Sporting his black battle saddle, and a fresh cigarette in his mouth. “A lot of rats crawling for survival, and the ant’s are hard at work building a nice ant-farm. Good luck to them, as for you, the doctor and the idiot. We got work to do and little time to do it.”
“Fine.” Scorch scooped up the chems and dumped them into her bag. “Where are they anyway.”
“Romeo is probably playing with those foals, and the thief had better be within earshot. You should probably go find them.” The teal pegasus lazily puffed on his cigarette. “Considering your average speed I’d be glad if we made it to the hospital before nightfall. I could speed you up, if I wanted.“
“I don’t like you.”
Wire’s head popped up from the entrance behind Charger, and he was waving a hoof around with the intent of getting her attention.
“What do you want?” Scorch removed one of the vials of Med-X from the little stash of chems in her bag and looked it over. How do you use these? She looked back at Wire who was trying to avoid the gaze of the blue Friendship guard. Well, I watched him do it.. How hard could it be? Trying her best to copy Wire she pulled her foreleg out of her jacket and turned it over and stuck the needle in. A drop of blood spread itself around the little needle in her leg and pressed down on the plunger, letting the drug spread through her body and clear the foggy pain in her head. “Oh that feels sooo much better.”
Head finally clear of pain and doped up on painkillers Scorch walked over to Wire. “What is it?”
“You gotta help me get rid of them foals.” Wire looked towards the sky.
“Get rid of them?”
“You want to see that little filly you like so much blow away by a gunshot?” He questioned her. Wire's usual sarcastic tone was gone..
“Of course not, why the hell would I?”
“Good, now you just gotta convince the Doc to send em with them traders.” He hopped over the wall he was hiding behind.
Convince Doc? I’d rather try and tame a dragon. “Why don’t you just lie to him like you always do, you’d do that stuff better than me anyway.”
“Of course, but he’s caught on. I’m too fucked up on drugs to be a reasonable pony.” He rolled his eyes with the comment, “I just need another pony on my side is all. There’s luck in lots of things together.”
“I’ll come along, but you do the talkin’.” Better that way. If Doc finds out I took Med-X, he’ll go postal.
“Seriously? Oh well. You had your chance to send em off. I don’t care if two small midgets die out here. Just don’t blame me when a manticore snacks on one or a stray bullet catches the other.” Then he got close to the doctor, and he stated something with a lowered voice before turning to face Scorch and her companion. “Ah. If it isn't Useless and the mercenary with the mouth. Good timing. Already packed? We should get going.”
"Why don't you get a head start? Can’t go in blindly can we?” Wire said to the blue pony floating in front of him.
Charger rolled a fresh cigarette around in his mouth. After a moment of deliberation, he pulled out his lighter and puffed smoke at the thief. “I’ve already scouted ahead. You take me for an amateur, Mouse?”
“Yes, go do it again, unless you’re too out of shape.” Wire waved the pegasus goodbye.
“These constant delays are not making me happy Mouse. Not happy at all.” He blew a small cloud of smoke at the thief and presented his best grin. “Fine. I’ll do another run in ten seconds flat. Knowing that you lot will barely have gotten out of the door upon my return.” The pegasus picked up his pace and vanished outside again.
Wire moved his attention to Dawn and the two foals standing at attention besides him, “Okay Doc, time to say goodbye. To them. The kids.”
“I am not handing them over to those.” The doctor waved a hoof over towards Rose. “Ruffians. The lot of them. Besides Rabbit has not eaten anything properly since somepony gave her half a cake.”
What’s wrong with cake?
“Oh, so the plan is to take some foals you rescued from slavers into a place filled with monsters and ponies with guns? Guardian of the year is not what I’d call ya.” Wire said, pacing back and forward for a while.
“I have Hoofstrikes, an’ she promised to teach me to use a knife.” Rabbit looked up to the thief with an expression of calm violence. “We c’n sneak and stuff too.”
“See? They don’t want to go.” Dawn grabbed hold of Rabbit before either did something silly.
“Someplace safe? You’d rather take the risk that of seeing the life drain from their eyes while there is not a thing you can do about that. Obviously they don’t mean that much to you.” The thief pointed a hoof at the two foals.
“Instead of what? Send them off with Rose? Those ponies are not fit for parenting anything.” The doctor replied with cold reasoning taken from the past night.
Scorch couldn’t help herself, so what if Doc figured out she’s doped up. Fuck him. “Not parent, just watch after them for a day. Doctor What’s-His-Face can watch them once they all get to Friendship.” Like you’d do any better.
“A day or two can quickly turn to a week out here, and then what? I don’t like it, but this is the best option.” Dawn muttered in a moment of guilt.
“Oh, so you’ve got supplies for them and us for weeks on end? Nice, clean water for them, all the food stuffs growing ponies need? All I see is a selfish pony not wanting to give up his new play things.” Wire steadied a gaze of disgust on Dawn.
“I am a doctor. I do not play with life.” Dawn cringed knowing it was a lie. “It’ll be okay if we ration it like before. They have lived in worse conditions. It’ll be okay. It has to be okay.”
“I’m sorry Rabbit, there’s just not enough food to go around tonight. So you’ll go a little hungry. You’re used to that though.” Wire's voice began devolving into barely contained rage.
“It will work out. Somehow.” Dawn pleaded while looking down in defeat.
“Rabbit, I want you to go with Rose and keep an eye on her. Can’t have her badmouthin’ me again.” Please work, come on...
“When you come back. You teach me the knife okay?” Rabbit looked on Scorch with suspicion. “Not gonna’ wait forever for you to keep that promise.”
“I promise, as soon as we get back.” Scorch said with a smile. She couldn’t help it, Rabbit was growing on her.
“Leaf. You must look after your friend again. Just for a day. Or two.” Dawn hugged the black buck and then sent him on his way. Then he trotted after Rose to ensure the foals would arrive safely without trouble.
It’s all gone. They would find somepony else, and he would be alone again.
“You did the right thing.” Wire told him, and he knew it was right. It just felt wrong inside.
“I know.” Dawn muttered back and increased his pace. He needed to get away, and this pace was not fast enough.
“One less thing to worry about right?” Wire gave Dawn an almost sincere smile that he noticed upon looking back at the small party that was behind him. Without Leaf or even Rabbit It felt empty. He turned back to face the road and cringed. If this was doing the right thing why did it hurt so much?
“I know.” The words felt like ash in his mouth. No, this was ash and it lay thick in the air. Driving with the wind like an odd form of mist. He coughed and took a swig of water. Worse this mist reeked of death. Once they had left the playground and gone a few blocks south there was not much difference in sights, but this smell was surrounding them.
Only then did Dawn notice the subtle hints. Bullet holes, and broken boards. A pile of ashes with a surrounding burn mark nearly blown to the wind. A sawed off shotgun lay haphazardly on the middle of the road. Discarded by its wielder. “What the hell?” The doctor asked nopony in particular while levitating up the weapon. The weapon was in a slightly poor condition but was still heavy with slugs. Loaded and ready, but never used.
“You gonna take that?” Scorch looked expectantly at the shotgun Dawn was inspecting. “I want those slugs.”
“Take it.” Dawn levitates the weapon, cracks open the two chambers and hands the slugs to Scorch while taking the weapon for himself. The doctor shudders as a chilling wind passes by, sending more of the ash rolling around the street. It is remarkably quiet. “Feels like a graveyard.” Who was he fooling? This was a graveyard. A graveyard of ponies reduced to dust.
“What I don’t get any thanks?” Charger appeared like a ghost out of a ruined window while clapping his hooves together in applause to himself. “Well. Not that I’m complaining. You gave me plenty of time to clean house. It was just very boring is all. You didn’t bring the foals?”
“Thanks for all the free stuff. Saved me the trouble of getting shot at.” Scorch commented while poking through what piles of ash had not been blown away by the wind.
“No problem. Just trinkets and ash left. Most of it gets incinerated.” Charger yawned, and then landed nearby. His black saddle humming with magical energies and there was still smoke reeking out of his beam rifles. “Ran into a patrol. The slavers are getting restless. Wouldn't have met any more rat patrols if you were 20% faster.”
“Could have just went by ‘em without all the... plasma shed.” Wire said as he kept making his way towards the hospital, paying as little attention as was equinely possible to Charger.
“Maybe. If you had been half a day faster.” Charger rubbed his own muzzle and wiped it on Wires flanks. “It’s because you move at a snails pace Mouse.”
“I never agreed to a timetable when I was forced into this.” He swatted the blue buck away.
“You mean when we caught you stealing and benevolently decided to grant you a way out that doesn't screw you over entirely? Do you have any idea how boring it is to watch a pack of snails, Mouse?”
“Then go back to Friendship, nopony wants you here!” Wire was losing his composure for only a small moment.
“Funny. They didn’t either.” He directed Wire’s face towards another burn mark in a forceful manner. The thief tried to push away but was stuck in this guided embrace. “Can Mouse do what a pack of rat’s could not? Didn’t think so.” Charger proceeded to rough Wire’s mane up while keeping the thief from doing much of anything besides continuing to walk.
Dawn could see the apparent dislike in the thief’s body language, and soon after smacked one of the novels he had picked up from before into Charger flanks. “That's not very nice. You should stop it before somepony gets hurt.” His voice felt dry and monotone, and the doctor quickly began wetting his lips and thirst for water. The bottle soon made its way into the thief’s sight as Charger let him go. “You should all drink while you can.”
Wire looked at the bottle for a moment, then took it, a small “Thanks.” Escaped his lips before drinking most of the water.
They arrived at a large clearing that had been fenced in before the war with several holes in it caused by grenade explosions. The hospital itself held a single entrance. You could see them easily. Large lumbering beasts. Mostly lion, with the tail of a scorpion, and the wings of a bat. “They probably just woke up.” Charger commented as he dug inside his pockets for another cigarette.
“They’re gonna smell that. Might as well just turn on a siren.” Wire said to the pegasus, not happy with standing next to him.
“That’s cuz i’m the bait.” The pegasus sighed. “Do you always need things spoon-fed. Can’t even comprehend the simplest of concepts even when told hours in advance. No matter. I’ll get their attention, and you all run inside that hospital building. Preferably before any slaverponies. Ready?”
“I got time for a game of solitaire?”
“You don’t even have cards for a game of solitaire.” He waved his hoof all excitedly to get the small crowd all worked up, and then lit his cigarette. After a few drafts of his cigarette, Charger flew inside the pen. Shooting a few beams of green laser at the biggest manticores he could find. Circling a few times to make sure he had em all and then vanishing due west in a crowd of roars. He made it seem easy.
“I hope they eat him. Maybe his sour mood will make them all sick.”
“We could only be so lucky,” Wire said as he began to venture across the parking lot, Dawn and Scorch following close behind. It wouldn’t be long until the scent of rotting corpses caught their noses. Bones and blood was sprayed across the parking lot. Blood and bones littered random locations alongside explosions. Enough death had taken place here to fill a small war, and this had attracted a pack of lethal predators.
The hospital itself looked like an over-sized bunker. Metal shutters had dropped into magnetic locks buried into the concrete. The bottom floor was impenetrable from all assaults, save for the entrance that was still kept open to crawl under by large chunks of concrete.
A loud unison cheer could be heard from their left. Opposite of where Charger had run off with the manticore pack several ponies appeared. A crowd clad in the dirtiest clothes layered in metal and wielding weapons. The most ragtag horde you could possibly imagine began flooding into the parking entrance and were heading for the hospital. Red rusty scooters squealed against the moist and bloody concrete while humming towards them.
The entrance was not far. They had a small lead on everypony that were running for the entrance, but the ponies on scooters were catching up. *Blam, blam blam. The fool ponies had taped guns to their bikes, and were using some form of contraption to shoot while driving. Several shot’s singed past them and made what was a small journey into a lethal experience. Judging by the amount of bullets flying past them the accuracy of those things were shit and worse than worthless. Good mostly for scaring anypony trying to run into submission or the occasional lucky shot.
It felt like running in slow motion. Dawn was quick to pull the Macintosh, and using magical S.A.T.S the doctor sent two of the ponies that had closed in on them the most to an early grave. The first one bore an expression of surprise mixed with awe and adrenaline. A bwhoompmmph later and half his head vanished into a spray of red liquid. Covering his mates in brain goo and sending the bike into an audible crash while Dawn reeled the barrel towards number two without hesitation or thought of mercy.
The second shot was safer, a loud bang later and another pony had a small, but noticeable hole in the chest. Spraying his blood backwards. His infernal buzzing scooter took a nosedive towards the concrete and crashed into one of his other mates.
Breathing out Dawn returned to the speed of reality, and then reeled backwards as a cold metal sensation struck several times. For a moment his body was trembling to the beat of bullets, and in the next the crimson pony fell into the hospital entrance. He stumbled and rolled even further inside. There was a set of loud bangs, then the shrieking sound of the entrance shudders crashing downwards instantly followed. It made his skull ring, echoing long after it was over, and then dust filled the air.
Things had gone from worse to clusterfuck. Doc was bleeding out, Scorch was yelling for the slaver ponies to bring it on. Wire didn’t know what to do. Usually he’d just run like hell, but now he was cornered, and the medic was down.
“Bring it Scooter humpin’ fuck face's, I’ll take you all on!” A clicking sounded from her direction quickly followed by the sound of a shell hitting the ground.
Okay, Scorch has this. It’ll give me enough time to figure out a pl-
The boom of Scorch’s shotgun sounded again, and another shell hit the ground followed quickly by a third. Then a tiny click and silence.
“Fuck!” Scorch sounded panicked as the shotgun shot clicked again and again before ceasing altogether. “Double fucks!”
And there goes that. Time was draining away, the armed ponies drawing closer, still firing. Can’t run away. Gotta go inside. Gotta shut doors. No time.
“Scorch! Inside now!” He shouted at the cursing mare while pulling out the C4 blocks off his back and tossed them at the pillars that held up the large shutter.
Scorch yelled something intangible, and dove into the hospital entrance at full speed then she skidded across the floor.
Wire pulled the detonator out of from under his pack and waited until they slavers were as close as he could let them before pressing the button. Then there was a Screech as the metal shutter crashed down into the ground where it belonged. Dust was everywhere, and sounds from the outside were muffled versions of their former selves.
He caught sight of a black pile, with a hint of red. Scorch. He picked himself up and went over to her. “Scorch? You okay?” He shook her a few times, but it was to no avail. She was knocked out cold. He put a hoof to her head, it felt wet, but it was nothing that was gonna get her killed.
Well, she’ll be OK. Breathing at least. Unless she has brain dama-
Harking and coughing in the darkness that was the hospital the world suddenly lit up revealing Dawn as the source of light. The doctor moved his hoof to the chest while falling to his haunches. Blood. He caught Wire’s worried glance and grinned sickly back before jerking forward and vomiting blood.
The doctor fell to the floor while pressing his hooves desperately against a most critical wound on his neck. “Luna.” Dawn pleaded and began gurgling in his own fluids.
Oh no. Oh no. The crimson colt had blood pooling around his forehooves, gasping for air. Let him die. He took all your chems. Make him suffer as he made you suffer. But. There was something else, a thought at the back of his mind he couldn’t make out. He couldn’t just let him die. It would just be another pony dead by his inability to do anything right. Gotta make things right. She wouldn’t want this.
Wire bolted over towards Dawn, at a loss as to what to do. “Uh, how you holdin up Doc?”
“Three, six, eight bullet entry-wounds.” He responded, eyes parting in an uneven fashion. “Don`t worry, only one hit something vital. Its actually very hard to speak.” The doctor coughed up more blood. “My left leg and shoulder hurts.”
“Forget about those, tell me about the vital one.” He was rummaging through his pack.
“Throat.” He removed his hoof from the base of his neck, revealing a hole where blood was gushing from. The doctor quickly began coughing repeatedly afterwards. His shaking hoof then reached back towards the main artery to block the flow somewhat.
“Uh, what do I do?” Wire was lost, he never needed to do any emergency surgery before, just take some Med-X and hope it heals. Dawn would never go for it. He’d rather bleed out than stoop down to Wire’s level.
“Apply pressure to limit hemorrhage. Usually add a plastic tube to secure proper breath. Remove the bullet and then heal wound with magic.” Dawn listed it out easily enough. Then the doctor had another coughing fit.
“I don’t have any magic,” Pointing to his hornless forehead, “How do I skip that step?”
“Dip bandage in healing potion. The reduced potency should keep other wounds from closing.” He looked up with a grin and then went back to coughing.
“Great. Just great.” Wire pushed a hoof into the crimson pony’s neck. Then started to look for medical supplies. “Doc, where are the supplies?”
“In the purple saddlebag. Wrapped inside a green cloth” He wheezed out, while helping Wire keep pressure on the wound.
Keeping his hoof pressed down where the doctor grasped, Wire reached into the saddlebag and nearly spilled all of its contents searching for the green cloth. Inside were bandages, the clatter of clean metal tools. A few scalpels and some other stuff for gripping or plucking inside wounds and small round bottles of red healing liquid. Wire looked at these small, delicate tools, then at his dirty, shaky hoof. How am I supposed to do this?
“I believe in you.” Dawn halfway spat out as he noticed the doubt and hesitation of his “doctor”.
Great, another red pony about to die in my hooves. What had he said to do? Push down on it. Got that, then it’s to, uh, come on. You can do this, no need for Med-X, no time either. Tube! Shove on in there. Ugh. Wire balanced the tube on his hoof, there was no way he could get this in. “How?” He shook it in the doctors view.
“Feed it to me, then remove the bullet and close the wound.” The crimson buck opened his mouth expectantly.
Wire shoved the tube down the colts throat, who gagged the whole way down. Okay, not that terrible. “Now what?” He looked at the semi conscious pony, tube down his gullet, bleeding from the neck. Had he had a third hoof, he would have smacked his forehead. He can’t talk now, guess I’m winging it.
Dawn pulled his spare hoof away from the wound and towards the green cloth. Remove the bullet you dense pony was what he wanted to say but all that came out was gargles and extremely muffled attempt at speech-craft now that his tongue was blocked by a massive plastic tube.
Even with the speech barrier, Wire could make it out. “Bullet? Oh, bullet.” He looked at the tools on the ground. Okay, just like pickin a lock, just a bit different. He grabbed the plires with his mouth and turned his head so he could see what he was doing, then removed his hoof from Dawn’s neck. Blood gushed forward, but it didn’t spray everywhere. Uh, either books have lied to me, or his heart is stopping. Great now I’m on a timetable. He shoved the tool into the wound and began grabbing for the bullet. He had no idea if he was helping, or causing more damage. Medicine was a foreign subject to the thief.
Resistance. There was a metallic resistance. He began to pull, and he saw lead. Ha! He pulled it out, and then the torrent of blood he had been expecting came out. “Agh!” He yelled as he drove his hoof hard onto the pony’s neck. Dawn squirmed but remained remarkably still and obedient. Using his healthy hoof the doctor guided Wire, so the thief could more easily stop the wound from bleeding.
“Bandaid. Bandaid. Bandaid.” With his free hoof, Wire tossed most of the supplies around and began looking for something to cover the wound with. All he found was gauze. “This?” The crimson buck nodded, but his guiding hoof was also pointed at the small round bottle filled with red liquid. “What do I do with that?”
"Combine it, Together." The battered doctor wheezed, but even that was pushing it, his hoof flailing about to match his words. "Put it on the wound."
Wire twisted off the top and poured it on the doctors neck, then proceeded to wrap the gauze around his neck, then poured the last bit on top of the bandage. “That was everything?”
“Mhmhm.” Dawn's voice came trough with more clarity. He was more focused now and not clawing to get trough a message. The wound giving off purple mist filled with sparks of vanishing energy spreading out from the blonde thief`s hooves.
“This stuff always did irk me.” He looked at his hooves, trying to wipe it off.
The crimson buck began pulling at the plastic tube. Making heaving motions as if he was about to throw up every time he stopped. After three pulls it was out and he was coughing madly, but fortunately there was not a lot of blood. He swallowed and panted in relief. “I knew I was in good hooves.”
“That makes one of us.” He sat back, undoing his pack. Feeling fresh air on his dirtied coat.
“There are still bullets stuck on my leg, flank and shoulder.” He pleaded, dragging out the bottle of liquor still lying about in his bags. With his weakened magic the bottle rolled towards him. Slowly being dragged forward.
“I’m gonna have to pull those out too?” He stood up and grabbed the bottle.
“You have something better to do?” Dawn grumpily retorted, wanting his bottle and preferably no bullets in his body.
Wire did not appreciate his tone, but if he wanted him to shut up, all it would take is one little needle. But he had a point, for right now, they were stuck. Wire sat down and gave him the bottle. “Just reach in and grab em?”
“That`s about the gist of it. Just let me take the sting out first.” The doctor sucked the bottle and drank greedily. Tilting it to the point where only a shallow layer was left and then burped. “Use the rest for disinfection if you have to.”
“Ah. I, uh, skipped that step with your neck.” Taking the bottle and putting in beside the tools.
“That's fine. The tools you used where disinfected from before you started. Unless you left the bullet inside. Then it would eventually have poisoned me to death.” He giggled but soon hugged his left shoulder in pain. Revealing four separate bullet-wounds on various parts of the same leg.
“You didn't even try to move, did you?” Wire sat down beside the wounded pony with the pliers, positioning Dawn so that he could get a decent angle on the holes, then set about pulling them free, one by one.
“Haven`t been shot in years. Nor do ponies tend to shoot the one pony out here wearing a Ministry of Peace healer uniform.” He muttered.
“Those were raiders. As soon as they-” He plucked another bullet out of the doctors crimson hide. “Were done shooting you, they would have tortured you, and seeing how soft your coat is, probably added a bit of rape on-” Tugging hard on the fourth bullet, “Top of that. Pony folk out here, doctor, aint nice.”
“I know. Shot two of them didn't I? Just wasn't. I just..” He gave the ground a mournful look. “I just decided to put my trust in you. Sorta felt like you would help me in time.”
He pulled out the last bullet in his shoulder and let some of the alcohol rinse the wounds. “What made you so sure?” Why the hell did I bother helping you? Finally Wire was able to think, and all it did was make him more confused.
“I was going to drink that healing potion and pluck out the bullets myself but then. I saw your eyes and knew I was safe.” The doctor replied in a nostalgic tune.
Wire looked at the liquor bottle for a second, then put it down. “Looks are deceiving.”
“I havent seen that kind of eyes in years.” Dawn stretched his hoof out, hitting the thief on the nose and dragging his face down towards his own.
“What are you doing.” Irritation in his voice. He’s drunk and shot up, just let it go over your head.
“Closer.” He rose to meet Wire`s face being dragged downward`s. “It was there for just a moment. ” Their muzzles crashing into each others.
Wire pushed him away. “Stop. You didn’t see anything, it’s the booze and blood loss is all.” He got up and sat beside Dawn’s flank, and tried to start pulling the bullets out.
“I know what I saw.” He replied with a sweet drunkenness in his voice.
“Oh I bet.” Laying on the sarcasm as thick as frosting. He pulled out the rest of the bullets without anymore hassle from the pouting pony.
“Wire.” He moaned as the last bullets where removed. “Look at me.”
He didn’t want to. Not at all. Nope. He wasn’t gonna do it.Always the red ones.
He looked up at Dawn. “What?”
“Thank you.” He gave the thief a sweet, satisfied smile with tired, drunk eyes.
He was almost speechless for a moment. “Uh, am I done now?”
His horn began glowing yellow and the doctor giggled. “Unless there is something else you want to do with me.”
Trying to think got harder to do and Wire's vision was clouded. Wire should have decked the pony, but the words fell out like a waterfall. “What are you talking about I don’t want, to uh, do what?”
“Let me see your eyes again.” His head waggled drunkenly, and the magic spell broke.“You have nice eyes.” Dawn broke into a mighty yawn and began curling himself around Wire as if he was a blanket.
Wire pushed the clingy pony away. “Get off of me. Go to sleep before I punch you in your neck.” He clacked his hoof shoes on the ground loudly.
“Muuh?” He muttered, barely waking to the sounds surrounding him. “Patient`s need to be kept warm because of blood-loss.”
He’s a doctor he would know. Said the voice in his head. He’s also a drunken idiot. Said Wire back. But he knew if he did this, he could get his Med-X hassle free in the future. He was always one to plan ahead. “One time, you hear me.” His voice was slightly shaky, he didn’t want to do it very much and Dawn was already beyond talking about it. The poor buck had fallen asleep on the floor with nothing to protect him from the wasteland while the blood caked on his shoulder and flank was healing.
Wire laid down beside the crimson pony, wrapping the doctors leg around him. He was pretty cold and the concrete not helping. Why am I doing this? I need more drugs. He was about to get up and grab something when the crimson buck tugged him back with all of his might. Wire was stuck and unless he punched him off nothing would get done. The thief wasn’t in the mood to do anything like that. Stupid ponies and needing to be cared for when in pain. His coat is soft. Wire did a double take of his thoughts.
What? Did I just think that. No. No, no. I don’t care how pretty a red he- There! I just did it again. I do not like being sober. Not one bit. I should have taken some when I had a damn chance. But then I would be cold- I’m fine dammit! He was now arguing with himself over this matter.
The bottle of liquor was right there next to them. Wire stretched his neck out and grabbed the top, popping the top off with his tongue and then chugging the last bit down. It was sweet. Kinda like a sugar bom- “For Luna’s sake, can’t I get a break?”
The thief slumped down, tired, annoyed, and just a bit confused. “Always the red ones.” He muttered, and closed his eyes. The thief found himself stuck in this forced hug, and while it was warm a part of it still felt forced.
New item: “Bottomless bag”: Generally thought of as not worth the price for the extra room it provides. It is an option for those who are squeezed for space, and have money to waste.
“Self Medication” 1 Rank Prerequisite: Chem Reliant, Survival 35: “Medicine of choice? Alcohol, of course.” Stress? Drink. Lacerations? Drink. Laser burns? Drink. Really, what problems can’t it solve? Add a minor DT/DR bonus to alcoholic beverages. Effect scales with Survival.
“Patch Job” Rank 1 Perquisites: PER 7, Med 40: Sloppy technique and wasteful application, but damn if you can’t perform effective triage in the middle of a firefight. When performing first aid in combat, healing potions take effect twice as fast, but are only half as effective.
All credits for the setting go to Kkat, author of the original story Fallout Equestria published on Equestria Daily. Please support the sidefic authors that continue to explore her universe: FO:E sidefic author homebase Gdoc.
Story is coauthored by Volk, Redundant and Damhoof.
Big hugs to DamnfoolBrony author of "Kiss Equestria Goodbye."
Scorch woke to darkness, dust and a splitting pain in the back of her head. The firemare rose from the collection of rubble that was scattered on her, and pieces of debris fell off her: creating small streams of smoke and dust that whirled around her inside this great darkness. Somepony had pulled the blinds down and no light was getting trough.
One day. Can’t I go for just one fucking day without getting a damn headache?
“Wire. Doc. You two alright?” Scorch asked the darkness, putting a hoof to the back of her head and rubbing it to try and clear the pain. “Hello?”
No response came.
I need a light. Scorch pulled her lighter out of front jacket pocket. Sparking it to life, a small flame was created. With the soft globe of light around her, Scorch could make out the shimmer of a lone Sparkle~Cola resting on a beautifully carved mahogany table that had miraculously survived both age and fallout.
It’s not whiskey, but it’ll do.
She approached the table and picked up the Sparkle~Cola. Holding the bottle down with a hoof, Scorch pulled the stained combat knife from her bag, the soft blue of her magic enveloping it. She popped off the cap with a satisfying hiss and added it into her stash. At first she was intent on devouring its carrot tasting liquid, but quickly changed her mind.
Scorch used the cola as a poor distraction from the throbbing in her head, and began looking for her partners. She found Doc huddled together on the floor with the thief; both were sound asleep.
“Hey lovebirds. Wake up.” She prodded the two of them with a hoof.
“Ugh,” the smaller of the two groaned, the empty bottle of alcohol lying next to them had probably not done the two any good. “Whats? Scorch?” He looked down at the crimson pony. “Ugh. Fuck.”
“You gettin’ all cozy with Lady Dawn?” Scorch tried to laugh, but the pain in her head spiked as she tried, replacing the smile with a slight grimace.
He struggled a bit, then stopped in defeat. “... I’m stuck.”
“Aww. A prisoner of love?” She tried laughing again, only to succeed at making her headache worse. Fuck.
“It’s dark in here.” Dawn’s horn lit up: The two scooted apart, and both struggled to get on their legs. Dawn’s magical light began to fade, but then increased in intensity with a white layer of over-glow. He moaned with the effort, and for a moment locked in time the doctor became a beacon in the darkness or a warm star spreading it’s lights trough the darkest corners and recesses of the building. His flesh and spirit both regenerated at a brisk pace, and then darkness once again reigned.
The thief started blinking to regain what little vision he had, and focused his attention at the light offered by Scorch’s lighter. A source of light that barely extended beyond her. The flickering flame danced next to her muzzle. “Why don’t you turn on that light on your PipBuck? My lighter’s runnin’ out of juice.”
“Uhu.” The doctor fiddled with his PipBuck..
“Those ponies outside were not exactly frien- Aah!” The doctor screamed, and began pointing. Resulting in his PipBuck illumination spell going everywhere. Revealing shadows of ponies. The bodies of many different ponies littered the floor and the first few steps of the staircase. Ruined turrets and death were all that remained. After taking in the scene, Dawn’s eyes eventually fixed themselves on the ruined body of a Steel Ranger. He still stood tall, impaled by five armor piercing harpoons but left an impression of dread non the less.
“That’s not foreboding at all.” Wire said, his small frame almost blending into the background of death.
“Who kills Steel Rangers?” Dawn inquired awestruck, and then began poking at one of the spears that had pierced his metal cover. The light from his PipBuck shed more detail on the body, and revealed prewar emblems that had been welded onto the suit. “This pony was no ordinary Ranger.” The doctor whispered in respect.
“Must’ve hit ‘em by surprise. These guys have big blind spots.” The thief was quick to begin looting.
“With only one entrance? I doubt surprise was much of a factor at all.” The doctor shed light further along the sides of the hospital. Revealing countless of bodies mutilated by turret fire and explosives as they moved along. “Ugh. This is macabre.”
“It’s so damn heavy though. If it wasn’t so hard to get around in those tin cans they wear, I’d snatch it all up.” Wire said as he brushed a hoof along the bent barrel of the grenade machine gun saddle on the dead ranger’s corpse.
“We just survived by the skin of our teeth, have a wondrous hospital to explore, and the first thing you two think of is looting.” The doctor sighed, moaned in anguish, and began chewing on a sugar-bomb.
“It’s free shit, how could I say no?” Scorch popped the latch on a dead Ranger’s ammo box and peered inside. Damn, no flamer fuel.
“Ugh. I look ghastly.” Dawn moaned as he looked down at his dirtied coat, and the sight of his bag. “I just bought that.” Chewing on a sugar-bomb the doctor headed for the reception area. Taking his light with him.
“Quit your whinin’.-” Scorch was interrupted by a large metal clump slamming into the ground next to Wire, and you could hear the thief whelp in surprise as the wielder of this blunt weapon try to lift it back up again. Wheezing from exhaustion.
Her weapon was a glowing power sledge. The mare herself was wearing a blood smeared and decimated metal barding. Looking at it from afar it seemed almost like an ancestor to the steel ranger power armor. The mare wheezed her frustration over not having made a killing blow, and dropped the hammer once it was clear it would not get off the floor with her current strength.
“Come at me.. And, and face..- death inc...”
Whoever it was her voice trailed off, and she looked unstable. Blood flowed from her helmet, and the mare begun cantering off-balance. Hardly a threat to anypony but herself.
“Damn, you bastards just refuse to die.” Scorch stood up from the corpse she was looting and sized up the mare. You got fucked up. “Hey doc, we got a live one.”
“Looks like it, yes.” Dawn rushed forward and grasped the wounded mare. Gently lowering the ranger into the ground and slowly removing her gear. He let the magic work thoroughly. Taking his time with the wounds. “She won’t be awake for some time. Lost a ton of blood, but luckily nothing has hit anything vital thanks to the reinforced barding. Except for the blunt damage to her skull.” The doctor shifted his attention to her weapon. “Maybe she got hit by that on accident.”
“She hit herself in the head with her own damn hammer. Yep, that’s definitely what happened.” Scorch rolled her eyes and turned back to the body on the floor.
“Should have let her die.” Wire looked at the large dent in the concrete where he was almost reduced to broken bones.
“Probably thought you were one of those ponies we ran into outside. Not that I blame her. We look like shit. Especially after that improvised healing.” Dawn let the mare lie where she had fallen, and put the blunt hammer next to her with some admiration. “That hammer is a neat work of art. Good thing it was out of battery. It probably even has a name.”
“Breaky McSmashsmash?” Scorch began digging through the dead Rangers ammo pouch. More minigun ammo? Dammit, where was all the flamer juice?
“I don’t think desecration of honorable steel-ranger corpses is the cleverest thing you can do. We have no idea who’s still alive inside here besides this mare.” He sighed and shed his PipBuck light further down the hallway towards the reception area. “Loot the wrong corpse and you might find yourself stabbed to death by a half dead raider.”
“That’s why you check first.” Scorch kicked at one of the bodies, and it sat there just as dead as before. “See? Nopony’s still alive around here. They’re all dead.”
Wire stood over the injured, now unconscious, mare. “I don’t like rangers. Not one bit. And now were trapped in here with them.”
“I’m sure they will be grateful for not being attacked by more of those ponies we locked out.” Dawn replied while gently making his way towards the reception area. Avoiding bodies, and bigger pools of blood. “This is macabre. Give it a few days more, and it will stink like no tomorrow.”
“So, how do we get out? You seem to know a lot about these hospitals.” Wire trudged straight through the middle of the bodies. His movements were seemingly random, but the small buck got though without so much as bumping into a body.
“That's easy. I just gotta convince the hospital to open the shutters, but I don’t think I want to do that yet.” Dawn levitated out a sugar-bomb and began crunching on it with audible sounds. Eventually the doctor reached the reception area. Looking over the counter he sighed. “Seems like the power is off. Though there should be a running terminal at the end here. Probably something the steel rangers might have used. Before whatever happened. Happened.”
“Well it’s not like that shutter is ever going back up, we just open another and slip out unnoticed.” Wire took a cursory glance at the terminal. “That say how to get the power back on? Use that PipBuck to access the server from here?”
Dawn frowned and headed for the live terminal while unwrapping a piece of paper from the bags for him to read. “I don’t know how yet. Give me some time and I’ll figure it out.”
Wire gave out a sigh, “How long’s it gonna take you to decipher that little scarp of paper?”
“I have a patient lying still over there. I’ve got time. Do you have a. A screwdriver?” Doc looked up from the paper, and began chewing on his second sugar bomb.
“I have this,” Wire pulled the hoof file he used to pick open locks, “I’m sure your fancy little horn can work with this.”
“What a crude instrument.” He levitated it from Wire’s grasp and fiddled loose some screws off the terminals back. Pretty soon after Dawn was looked into connecting his PipBuck to one of several outlets, and he seemed to have other things on his mind. The doctor began chewing on another sugar-bomb and soon after had inserted his PipBuck connection into the machine. “Didn’t blow anything up yet. So far so good.” He began typing on the terminal, and rummaged trough the manual again. Lingering on a page, and studying the computer.
“I was never any good at this,” Wire pressed a few nobs on the PipBuck and brought up a new screen. There were rows of illegible numbers, letter, and symbols, broken up every once in a while by a full word. “Guessin games were never my favorite. Maybe you’re better at em.”
“What? Guessing game.” Dawn pulled the PipBuck and the thief towards him for a better look, and then began rummaging trough the manual. “What guessing game?”
“It’s some damn loop hole in every system in the wasteland. Who ever thought that was a good idea. But yeah, a damn guessing game. The password is one of those,” Pointing at a few of the complete words on the screen. “You got to figure it out.” He held up his hooves beside him in a shrugging manner.
“How come you know this?” Dawn casually remarked while trying his hoof at the guessing game.
“I’m an earth pony. My kind made these things. I’m born with the knowledge.” He had a smug look at he pressed the white capped hoof into his chest.
“Yes. An earth pony from the future if I recall correctly.” He sighed, and then grimaced as he lost the minigame again. “Wire. The truth is not gonna hurt. You should try to tell it some time.”
“I read a book on it as a colt. It was either that or hoe some plants.” He deadpanned to Dawn.
“You read a book, about a guessing game loop hole that is in every wasteland system? Instead of gardening?” Dawns face broke up in several different shades of red. Twisted in confusion. Then he sighed and pouted his lips in sadness. “You told me that you couldn’t read.”
“Since when do you believe anything I say? All I ever do is shoot up, steal and lie.” Doing his slightly improving terrible impersonation of Romeo.
“Because one day, you will tell the truth, and somepony still believe in you.” Romeo’s glare grew distant as he looked on the thief.
“One day all of this charity work is gonna get you killed.”
“Then follow me, and make sure I don’t get killed.” He mused, and then smiled. The minigame had solved itself. “It all works out in the end. When down to the last option. Perseverance and some faith will win out.”
“Just turn on the damn power.” Wire said, fed up with Dawn once more.
“Let’s see if this system does respond to Doctor Romeo shall we?” There was the sound of terminal-buttons being pushed and a ghastly giggle. “Let there be light.”
A bright flash ran trough the room. Strategically placed nodes began glowing. Some of them simply exploded right there, and others instantly faded to a much smaller glow because of dust or other obstructions.
*Welcome to the Ministry of Peace. Please wait in line and be patient. Uhm, if you don’t mind that is.*
A kind familiar voice the pair had heard before sparked from the speakers.
*There is a lockdown. Please do not panic, and follow the emergency instructions. We wouldn’t want security to shoot somepony. Because that would be bad, and we wouldn’t want bad things to happen during a lockdown.*
“Seems like only the entrance area was powered from here, and barely at that. Elevators are still down. Backup generators aren’t working, and nothing works except the lighting, the daily message, and some of the security. Though most if not all of that has been destroyed already.” Dawn looked out at them from the reception area and scouted the now lit area. “Will you please stop that? You can loot the rest later Scorch.”
“I’m done anyways.” Scorch stood up from the corpse of a dead ranger and kicked it. “They’ve all got shit, there’s nothin’ I want.”
There was over sixty corpses in this room. No way she’d have looked trough them all. Dawn didn’t want to think much past that. The idea of Scorch rummaging trough bloodied and soon to be rotting corpses was not what he wanted to think about. Birds and trees. He thought about them as he devoured another sugar-bomb.
“Oh my. Goddess Celestia willing. Scorch dear, could you please help me move my unconscious patient?” Dawn tried to make himself seem hot and bothered by the fact that his patient was still lying on what was primarily a battlefield. Now that he could see it properly it was worse than he had expected. This was the easy part. The next part entailed actually getting her to play along. “I wouldn’t want her to wake up in the middle of all this ghastly death. Please help me move her to a place with no bodies. Not far. Just over here. I’ll help with the lifting of course.”
“No. Your patient, you do it.” The stoic firemare said.
“There are fifty caps in it for you. If you help me.” Dawn gave her a pleading smile, and tried not to think too hard on lost money. fifty caps what a mercenary bitch. That’s half a healing potion. She’d better say yes, and be bloody happy for it too.
“Fifty caps?” Scorch stood there for a moment looking pensive. “Seventy-five and it’s a deal.”
He could feel his insides burn for meat. Devouring another set of sugar-bombs helped him keep calm. “Listen. This is fifty caps for just moving her fifty hoof-steps, so she does not wake up in the middle of a Luna damned war-zone. How about I owe you seventy-five and repay you the next time you get injured? Because discussing the price of common decency is sickening to me.” He wiped his face with his hooves, and hid his expression from sight under the pretence of being genuinely upset. “I. I only want to be a good pony.” He sniffled, and wiped his eyes without blinking to make it seem like he actually was tearing up.
“I’ll take the fifty if you’ll just shut the hell up.”
“Thank you. Scorch. I’ll shut up. Sorry.” Dawn wiped his eyes on the inside of his coat and trotted towards his patient. The two lifted her into the reception area with ease.
“Caps.” Scorch had seemed angry for some time now, but the doctor knew a cure.
“Thank you so much. I could never have done it without you.” Dawns smile widened, and caps traded hooves. “I knew you were a kind and dependable pony.”
This only seemed to make Scorch angrier. “I hate you, so very much.”
Dawn sighed and wiped his brow with elaborate gestures. “I need to rest from my traumatic experiences, and regain some strength. The generator should be in the basement and might restore power to the facility.” He reclined behind his patent and gave the two a lazy expression while bringing out a tin can of oats. “Try not to get shot.”
“I ain’t going in the basement.” Wire said as he looked at Scorch, “That’s a job for the big mare with a big gun. You’re comin’ with me Doc.”
Dawn felt his face twitch in surprise. Great. What now? The doctor wondered while increasing the strain on his voice. Making positively sure that the thief noticed it. “Can’t you see I’m absolutely exhausted from being shot, and curing a patient?”
“How should I put this.” He pondered for a moment. “I’m goin to raid this hospital for all it’s worth. Now I would think my doctor would want to keep me from downing every chem I come across, would he?”
The doctor brought out a sugar-bomb to go with the mouth-full of oats, and did not speak for a moment in time. Wire had him right in the mousetrap. Damn that silly pony. What was he thinking? Did he know about the cannibalism? NO. He couldn’t know. If he did, somepony would have already been dead. Dawn gave Wire his best smile. “Thank you for the reminder. I’d almost forgotten, and Scorch. Don’t hesitate to retreat the way you came if things get out of hoof down there.”
“I can handle myself.” Scorch pulled the lighter out her bag and started flicking the ignitor.
“Good, cause I found a map,” Wire pulled a metal plate from behind the desk. Before the war, it would have been hung on the wall, so ponies could find their way around. The top part had been blasted by a shotgun shell, the only part left was a smaller section showing that the generators were on the section furthest down. “Subsection B. That’s where you have to go. All the way down.”
The lighter caught the sparks and the little flame came to life. “Just my luck.” Scorch turned and started walking into the darkness when she stopped suddenly and turned back to Wire. “You wouldn’t happen to have a rope, would you?”
“I’ve got this really long thread.” He pulled a spool of thread out of his pack and made Dawn deadpan. “Does it look as if we have rope? Is this the latest sequel to Ponyana and the lost diaries?”
“How the hell was I supposed to know? Just gimme the thread.” Scorch closed the distance between her and Wire and grabbing the spool, walked to the desk and picked up the plaque.
“What are you doin' with my thread?” Wire asked as he realised just what the firemare was doing.
“You’re takin... You’re takin the plaque with you? You’ve got to be kidding.” The thief looked to the spool with a great longing.
“Yep.” Scorch stopped wrapping string around the plaque and began twisting several string pieces together, making a little rope of her own. Using her makeshift rope, she tied one end to the wrapped plaque and the other to her battlesaddle.
Dawn had been casually eating from his oat’s, and simply enjoyed the show. “It’s just a piece of string Wire. We can get you more later.”
“That stuff is hard to get a hold of. Worse than ammo.” Wire said more to himself than anypony.
“The mare who sold me this bag, said it was made in Trottingham. Probably has some spare sewing equipment you could buy.” Dawn continued to chew on his oat’s. “Might need some for my dress too, it’s a bit tight around the neckline.”
“Oh no, Celestia forbid the neck is too tight!” Scorch said in a dramatic voice. “Why don’t you two go fuck around while I do the all the work.” She pushed the plaque off the desk and started down one of the dark hallways. Her lighter was doing little to battle the darkness, and the plaque made horrible sounds, as it was dragged along the floor.
Once she was gone Dawn fell to his haunches, and let loose all the tension that had been building up. “You sure you don’t just want to go to sleep? I’m tired, and sorta need my rest for when Scorch switches on the generator.”
“You get fifteen minutes. Then we get goin, don’t want to get caught off guard.” Wire took a seat, pulling out a cigarette and placing it in his mouth, then he laughed a bit to himself. Not long after shutting his eyes Dawn’s world became dark, and he fell into a restless sleep filled with blood and darkness.
Well, it’s official. I’m lost.
The corridor had not taken Scorch where she wanted to go, and neither had any of the others. They all looked exactly the same, each one identical to the one before. The pain in her head had died down somewhat, though not entirely gone.
A feint static was in the air now. The fur on the edges of her coat was beginning to stand on end, the longer bits of her mane were moving away from her head, the smell of burnt ozone was all about.
Somethin' was not right. This corridor was just the same as the others, but it didn’t feel right. Something was off, and Scorch did not like it.
“...let me go...” A small voice echoed through the hallway, the sound bouncing off the tile and linoleum of the walls and floor. The darkness was reaching for her at every step, her lighter slowly giving it’s last amount of life to keep Scorch brave.
“Uh, hello?” It’s nothing. Yeah, nothing. You’re just imagining things-
The lighter gave up the ghost. A loud metallic crash was heard.
“Can’t escape me!” The voice was closer, but Scorch still couldn't figure out it’s source.
“Who’s there, don’t fuck with me!” She tried to sound brave, but the fear still bled into her voice.
The crashing grew louder. The sound of broken glass grew nearer. The voice more angry.
“I will find you!” Something brushed against her mane.
“Fuck off!” Scorch swatted at the air behind her with a hoof, the darkness was getting to her, it was almost tangible. She was panting, the sound of her heart was pounding through her head, the pain was spiking with every beat. “I’ll fuckin’ kill you, I swear I will!”
Far off down the long hallway was the smallest of red glows. Only now that her eyes had adjusted could she see it. The glass breaking had stopped, but the sound of the building shifting had become more noticeable. The C4 from before was probably not agreeing with it.
“You messed wrong pony.” Lowering her head, Scorch kicked at the ground and charged at the angry glow at the end of the hall.
A laser blast went wildly down the hall. “Stay back! Don’t make me use thi- oh shit.” The sound of metal clattering to the floor rattled down to Scorch.
He did not just shoot at me. “You’re fuckin’ dead!” Scorch tucked her head in and readied herself to slam into the red light, only she never hit anything. Surprised and caught off guard, she slammed into the cold floor and skidded across it before crashing into a wall, sending a fresh spike of pain driving through her head.
“Stay away you dirty raider! Sprinkles, help!” Beeping and whizzing came from the dark, a sentry bot rolled towards her. But something was off. It was the same shape, but almost an eight of the actual size of the normal wasteland variety. It slowly bumped into Scorch’s flank several times, then fell over in defeat.
“Uuugh, my head...” Scorch groaned with the pain that had spread to the rest of her body. I was not meant to fly.
“You killed him. Monster!” The glow coming from the unicorn that was yelling allowed Scorch to see he was pinned under rubble, far from a threat to her life. “Now, I’ll kill you.” A shakily held laser pistol was aimed at Scorch, the glow making the room even brighter. Lots of broken glass from over head lights, blocks from the walls and ceiling strewn about.
“Get that fuckin’ toy out of my face!” Scorch tried to lift a hoof and swat at the pistol, but only succeed in making her leg flop a few inches. Fuck you noodle legs!
A weight shifted on her side, and something fell with a clatter to the dark floor. The little energy pistol now lay a few inches away from her mouth. I got you now you little shit. She stretched out and chomped down on the pistol’s grip and swung her head around so that the barrel was pointed at the red glow. “Fffkn drppvv iss!” Double fuck.
“I couldn’t quite catch that. Wait, no don’t try and use your mind tricks on me waster! I’m in control here! Pie help!” He screamed at the top of his lungs.
Fuck this, I need to get the hell out of here. Scorch bit down on the pistol. She had managed to get two hooves steady before a sharp spike of pain exploded in her chest and head. She fell back to the floor with a thud, dropping the pistol as she hissed in pain. Oh fuck me with a skyscraper, I think I broke something. Shit shit shit. What the hell am I gonna do?
The pony cast in a red glow laid on the ground, unmoving for a moment or so, he seamed to be studying her. Moments passed in this standstill until he finally spoke up. “You’re not here to kill me?”
“What the fuck? You’re the one that shot at me first!” Scorch grimaced as another wave of pain pulsed through her body. Oh fuck, now it hurts even worse. Where’s Wire when you need him.
“It’s not like you don’t look like one of the outside savages. I don't want to get killed like my other squad mates.” He slowly lowered his laser pistol, his magic still gripping it though.
“You don’t happen to have any-” Another pulse of pain. Whatever she had done to herself was steadily getting more painful. “Chems, do you? I can trade you for them.”
“No, and I wouldn’t be passing any out either. If you couldn't tell, whatever idiot make that explosion upstairs trapped me under this roofing. If you can find my initiate, I might be inclined to help you.”
“Why can’t you go.” Come on, get up you lazy ass, let’s try this again... With a grunt, and a grimace Scorch pulled herself into a standing posture. Thatta girl!
“Just like an outsider. I. Am. Trapped.” He glowed his horn as bright as possible. His left rear leg was trapped under a large section of concrete, apparently fallen from the room. Save for how much he could bend, he was very much immobile. “If you help me, I’ll compensate you. Tattered hats, or fur dirt, whatever it is you wastelanders enjoy.”
“Alright, but you owe me one.” Scorch pressed her front hooves and chest against the large piece of rubble. Here we go. One. Two. Three! Pushing the pain to the back of her mind Scorch pressed her weight into the concrete slab. Feeling the slab shifting as she pushed.
“Agh!” The unicorn screamed out. “Use your telekinesis with me, so you don’t rip my skin off!”
I can’t. “Kinda busy here.” Scorch managed to squeeze out between the weight of the stone and the rapidly growing pain in the back of her mind.
The trapped pony let out another yell as the rubble shifted again. Then the sound of a minigun spooling up rang through the room. “What the fuck do you think your doing!”
Oh you have got to be fuckin’ kiddin’ me...
“What the fuck does it look like I’m doin’?” Scorch’s mental dam was close to breaking, she didn’t know how much longer she could hold the slab. “Will you stop standin’ there like a fuckin’ statue and help!”
“I don’t know who the fuck yo-”
“Initiate Pie! Had you been following orders I wouldn’t be stuck like this, now shut up and help the mare!” The robed pony yelled out. The minigun went silent, as did the power armoured buck, or at least sounded like a buck. He then stood next to Scorch and gave a push: the rubble slid away easily. Show off.
“If you’ve got any meds now would be a really good time to speak up.” Scorch stared coughing. Everything was hurting at this point. I could really use Wire right about now.
The pony stood up from the ground, not bothering to put any weight on his hind leg, “I appreciate you help and all. Unfortunately, All I’ve got left is this bottle of Buck. You are welcome to take it. Once I can regroup, I will see that you are given something for your help. As for you Pie.” The pony turned towards the imposing power armoured pony. “Where were you when I needed you? I could have been killed. You are of less use that Sprinkles.” He pointed a hoof towards the sadly beeping miniature sentry bot.
“I was lost, and it was dark.”
“You have a Celestia damned flashlight on your helmet.” The pony gave him a look and anger and disdain. He turned back to Scorch, “Apologize to the waster that actually did something.”
Waster, don’t call me fuckin’ Waster. “My name’s not “Waster”, it’s Scorch.”
“Ah yes, I guess introductions are in order. I am Scribe Haggis, and this is Initiate Pumpkin Pie.” He was quiet for a moment. “Any day now Pie.”
“Yes, um, sorry for the yelling?” His helmet turned to the scribe, who nodded, “Yes, the yelling.”
And for almost shooting me. Tin can dick. “You’re welcome. Or do you forget that i saved your friend’s sorry flanks.” The stories are true. Rangers are assholes in shining armour.
“Yes, now, do you want this?” He held the bottle out with his magic, a red glow enveloping it.
“Yes I very much do.” Scorch grabbed the bottle and greedily popped the cap and swallowed quite a few of little pills. I need a fuckin’ drink.
Haggis lifted the small robot off the ground via magic, and placed him in a satchel across his back, contrasting with his light blue robe. The room began to become more visible as the ranger lit up the lamp atop his helmet.
“You wouldn’t have happened to see a master control room whist you were down here, um, Scorch?” He asked her as he lifted his laser pistol and several magical energy ammo packs off the ground he was on.
“Nope, just you and empty rooms. I was lookin’ for the generators.” The pain in her chest and head slowly numbed as she dug a bottle of whiskey out of her bag and popping the cap she took a deep drink. That’s goood.
“Well, then you can be of more use. At least somepony down here can be competent.” Still shooting looks at the ranger. “What do you say? We help each other?”
“I don’t see why not, you’d do better than the other ponies I’ve been workin’ with.”
“Good, maybe you, an outsider, can teach this greenhoof a thing or two.”
“Scribe, this is far outside of proto.-” Pie piped up.
“I know all about protocol, far more than you ever will. I’m well within my authority. I’m sure Star Paladin Clementine would have supported me on this if he was alive.”
“Yes Scribe Haggis, I understand.”
The trio was quiet, walking into and out of room, many had generators, but no visible way to operate them. A glint caught Scorch’s eye. A silver and blue workbench, a nice set of almost complete tools hung over it.
“Jackpot.” Not even bothering to announce her intent Scorch turned toward the workbench and started inspecting the tools.
“Scorch?” Haggis made his way over, giving a cursory inspection of the area, “It’s just a workbench.”
“No, it’s just what I need.” Scorch undid the straps and buckles on her flamer. Once it was free she pulled it onto the workbench.
“Oh, I see. Maybe I can help you out. As a scribe, it is my duty to understand the inner workings of all things mechanical, scientific, and magical.”
Scorch turned the flamer around until the shotgun covered in duct tape was facing her. Useless fuckin’ thing. She drew the black knife and started cutting the tape, sawing at it until the shotgun fell onto the table. “Yeah, you could help me with somethin’. What do you know about modifyin’ one of those laser weapons?”
“Why, I would say that the reason I’m down here is because I’m very familiar with the arcane weapons and machinery.”
Charger leaned in. Making sure he would not be heard by anypony around. “Friendship City needs this. Look I scouted some Tin-ponies breaking into the hospital, and got some of the locals to try helping things along. Dunno how it turned out. Make sure to open those shutters and remain alive. I’ll take care of everything once I am inside.”
His mind was blending things, and the doctor stared into eyes mirroring that of his own. The mist around them was leaking blood. “I’ll take care of everything.” The alluring voice suggested unspeakable thing’s. “Everything.” The world began floating, his bed had become a boat lost in a sea of blood. Wonderful. Ponies truly are magnificent. To those words a giant wave washed over his bed, and he drowned in the crimson darkness.
Wire’s hoof was on his shoulder. The buck was pushing him awake. “You moan and squeal in your sleep. Time’s up. Let’s go.”
Dawn licked his lips and yawned. He was still feeling tired, but the thief pushed at him again. “Fine. But if you nearly die, my magic alone won’t be able to save you.”
“Let’s not forget who the wold class medical pony is.” He gave Dawn a half-assed smile.
“I’d never hear the end of that one will I?” The doctor chugged water from a flask and felt refreshed by it. “Alright lets get going.” He pushed for the reception entrance, and then looked at the stairs leading towards the second floor. “Guess we are heading up.”
“Eyup. You uh, you go first.” Wire said as he dug a hoof into the grime of the floor, as he looked towards the somewhat lit staircase.
“Okay.” The doctor crunched down on a sugar-bomb and began moving up the stairs without any trouble. His shoulder felt better, and things were the same dead as before. He reached the top and looked at the balcony. It had a giant crater in the middle of it with burn marks. Some kind of missile had been shot up here. “There should have been banners hanging from this place.”
“Yeah, they could say things like corpse city.” Wire said as he jiggled a fire hose box on the wall, nothing inside of it but an empty bottle.
Dawn looked into one of the long dark hallways, but it was easy to notice the small stains on the floor. “No bodies littering these parts. Must have all died out in the entrance area, and some of the injured made it up here. Some of them must have stood on the balcony there. Picking off slavers one by one until eventually somepony looked up.”
“Well, good thing I brought you along. You can just talk anypony we come across out of killin us.” The was a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
Dawn smiled. “You know, that’s not a bad idea. I could use a shower.” The doctor strolled off. Taking a turn to go one floor higher. Then as if running by memory, he took a right, and a left arriving at a large sign called. Administrative, and from there on out was a sign like a door handle with drops of water coming out of it. He shivered with delight. “Home sweet home. Please have the water talismans work. Please” Dawn prayed as he walked towards the door. Opening it revealed a large row or closets. Then he checked the next room filled with shower-heads and hit the water button.
“YESSSS.” The trickling of water began, and as luck would have it the thing would only cause a mild radiation poisoning once he was done. This was a hospital. It had plenty of Rad-away. “Yes, yes, yes.” Dawn could not get rid of his barding and doctor’s coat fast enough, and he had even brought soap.
He stopped for a moment, and looked back to Wire who he had ignored for what seemed like a minute at tops. “You gonna come too?”
Wire looked perplexed, maybe even a bit disgusted. “In the shower? With you?”
“I brought the soap. Won’t drop it. Promise.” He levitated the piece of soap towards the thief as if trying to prove a point. “Your mane needs this. You need this. It’s basic hygiene.”
Wire started to back out towards the locker room, “Yeah, I’ll pass.”
“Meeh, figures. Not gonna try to force you into it.” His horn glowed with further intensity. Lighting up the room with near sunlight quality. “Look at my horn Wire. Dad always said, I have an alluring glow to my magic, and this was one of my first spells. Mastered it easily. Can you guess what it is?”
“What are you talking about?” Wire was blinking a few times, “I’m not.” His eyes not able to keep focused, he fell over, “So tired all of a sudden.” His neck went limp in a small puddle of water, snoring quietly.
“Exactly.” Wire’s body was a lot easier to manage than the ranger. It was almost like having a teenager around. The doctor set about washing his patient with swift and professional care. Washing him behind the ears, and taking his time to make the thief clean while also taking care of himself. There was still a bundle of unused washing cloth from before the war. A bit dusty on top, but the lower ones were acceptable.
Dawn sighed and let stress be blown to the wind. Letting the clean cloth wrap around his forelegs and offer the comfort of home for just a moment in time. Then he looked to the shot up doctors coat with blood on it and mused. Perhaps even a coat. Using his magic the doctor easily rummaged trough every open closet. A few were locked, and the open ones had little to no value inside of them. He looked to Wire, the pony was still resting on top of the blankets he had left him at.
The doctor brushed his mane, added some of that honeyed perfume to his own stunning looks, and placed gentle hoof planted on the thief’s cheek. “Wire you can wake up now.”
Wire mumbled a bit, then rolled over, a smile on his face. He took a slow look around him, ending on Dawn. The smile evaporated. Replaced with a scowl. “What the hell happened?”
“You passed out. Must have been from all the traumatic events so far.” Dawn nodded with a worry in his eyes. “Are you sure you are okay?”
Wire looked utterly confused, “Why does my fur feel weird?”
Dawn removed his hoof from Wire’s face and planted it on his own instead. Giving the thief his most innocent and well meaning expression yet. “Well. I. Thought you wouldn’t mind a bit of cleaning since you were asleep. I washed everything, so you could get a taste of how a warm and nice a bath can be. So that, maybe next time you won't be so scared of water or soap. ”
Wire was silent for a while, then spoke softly, “Why do you keep doing these things?”
“Because a floating severed head told me to.” The doctor nodded to make it true.
“You’re not even a convincing liar.” He said as he started to scratch at his body.
Dawn simply shook his head and sighed, then he pointed his hoof towards some closet doors. He was not going to tell Wire why because that would be a death sentence. Or maybe he could give him the short version. Yea. “Because I’ve promised a lot of other ponies that I would be a good pony. Now can you pick the locks on these doors pretty please?”
“Uh huh.” Wire went to reach for his pack, then panicked, “Where’s my stuff?”
“Right over there next to my stuff.” Dawn nodded in the other direction close to the showers.
Wire got up slowly, apparently still woozy, walked over to his bags grabbing his tools out of the top pocket. “Are You paying me to?” He asked as he sat down beside the locker and put the strip of metal wrapped around his hoof into the lock.
“Wire darling. You do these things out of the kindness in your heart, and probably a bit of curiosity. Scorch is a different animal. She runs on avarice.” The doctor sat down with one of the books he had salvaged from Evergreen’s grocery store while casually brushing his mane.
Wire struggled in his attempt to open the lock, even going so far as to try and jam the hoof file into the lock and nearly breaking his own tool in the progress. “I’m really close, but ever since I collapsed I can’t keep a steady hand.
“Then wait for the spell to go away. Takes an hour tops. I can brush your mane while you’re waiting, or we can search for a new medical coat elsewhere.” The doctor mumbled as he shuffled trough the fifth page of “The black Stallion".
“Just give it to me Doc. I can be done here If you give me what I need.” He was almost pleading with the crimson buck.
“I think you can make do without.” Dawn flipped another page, and began thinking back at the addicts he had tried to cure back in Friendship. Somepony with a blonde coat came to mind. Probably influenced by Wire’s own coloration. Romeo at the time had been extremely lenient on the idiots dash abuse until one day the poor soul had flown off Friendship city’s roof with a comforting splat to end his life.
“C’mon Dawn, just one. It’s all I need.” Almost pleasing for it.
“You’re not desperate enough.” Dawn let the book linger, and looked as if he inspected the writing.
“I wont ask again. I want to be able to keep my cool.” Wire was inching closer to Dawn. Trying to give a convincing smile.
“Heard it before.” He crunched a sugar-bomb between his teeth and flipped to the next page.
“It’s not gonna kill me. I can’t do this without it!” He hurled his tools at the locker.
“Thinking back you probably set out with that mindset, so you haven’t really tried yet.” Dawn flipped the book to page nine.
Wire just sat and seethed, for a long time. Eventually he spoke, “What do I have to do? I’ll do it.”
“You have to open that lock.” Dawn casually looked up from the book with a smile, and then began sucking on a second sugar-bomb. “Without Med-X.”
“So, I open this, and you’ll give me a shot?”
“No explosives either. Open it like you normally do. With the tools.” He flipped the book to page ten. “Just think of how good you were during the improvised surgery. I’m sure you’ll manage.”
Wire mouthed the work fuck. He picked up his tools and set about trying to open the lock. Grunting every once in a while as his metal tool became deformed. Jimmying the lock with precise movements. A few times he thew the tools away and told Dawn to go fuck off, but he always picked them back up and tried again. His breathing was getting short and curt as he was slowly becoming more and more angry. At one point, he placed his forehoof on the locker door and cursed to himself. Something about no explosives. If Dawn looked closely enough, he could almost see tears forming from frustration. Suddenly, in the silence of the room they were in, there was a tiny click. Wire was motionless.
Dawn clapped his hooves slowly together in appreciation. “Way to go. Wooh-hoo.”
“Yeah! Fuck you! Now give me my stuff!” He yelled as he did a small jump in place.
“Here. Fetch.” Dawn levitated out a vial of Med-X and levitated it towards the thief with a sickly grin. “All clean and ready to get shot into your veins. Now. Let’s see what’s in the closet.”
Wire hesitantly looked at the vial, then at Dawn. He started to speak, but then stopped, and took the dose of drugs that had been given him. The thief then trotted up to the locker and opened the door. “Ah, my size.” Dawn threw his old and bloodied doctors coat in the trash. Nabbing the new one from it’s place the doctor put it on with a smile. “One size fits all you see. Oh.” Dawn could feel that the pocket’s had contents. A half used package of cigarettes.
“I wasted all that time... For this?!” Wire said as he picked up a notebook and hurled it across the room. Dawn was quick to catch it. “Fool. Writing from our lost era is a treasure, not something you throw about.”
“Thirteenth of August, year twelve of this sodding war. Diary of Aphrodisiac. Heart surgeon of the thirthy-fifth Ministry of Peace medical corps.” He flipped the page and was greeted by a sketched symbol at the back of the page. It was sharp, and crooked with tribal flames surrounding it, and a vast amount of lead had been spent to get the proper feeling emanating from it. Sketched with fervor.
Zohm the zebra glyph of pain. The Zebra shaman have various remedies impossible from a pony perspective. Med-X is a joke compared to the complete and utter removal of pain itself. To the ponies I have attempted these experimental treatments along with medical science..
There was more. Detailed descriptions on just what his experiments had been based around, but Dawn closed the book. He knew history alright. This book was contraband. This book was treason. “I ah. Uhm.” Already he felt drawn to read more, he hungered too, and the combination was beginning to gnaw at his sanity. The doctor switched the book with a sugar bomb. Crunching down on it with a smile.
“What was in tha-” Wire was cut off as a hum engulfed the hospital, lights slowly powering on, machines starting up for the first time in centuries. “Huh, didn’t expect her to do it.”
“Me neither.” Somepony cried out with a metallic voice in the distance, and loud echoing booms from something repeatedly exploding began to drum their way trough the hospital walls while chain machine-guns rippled, and spat bullets that clang onto metal. It was not particularly far from here. Dawn cringed, and then part of the wall swung out nearby. A large mechanical construct on wheels with red eyes, and a large humming laser-barrel drove out, and then turned to hail them.
*Lockdown order issued. All patients have been evacuated. Prepare for elimination of all lifeforms remaining. Stand your ground Zebra scum and face Eraser the Bathroom scourge!”
Wire grabbed Dawn’s tail and flung him around the corner, into a back closet. The only way in or out blocked by the large robot. “It’s always fuckin’ something.” He took a quick peek back into the room, then began fiddling with his launcher.
Dawn smacked his head into the closet, and looked to the thief expecting an apology while the robot sentinel rolled towards the corner.
*You cannot escape. The mighty Eraser shall exterminate you faster than he cleans toilets, and washes clothes!*
Wire paused at the comment, about to say something, then continued to load black tipped shells into his launcher. “Plug your ears,” He whispered to Dawn.
“What about my fears?” Dawn looked to him confused, and shook his head again to try to regain some semblance of balance. The robot sentinel passed the corner and turned half his metal body to face them.
*Pissed yourself yet, Zebra scum? Prayed to your sick gods? Begged for mercy? Eraser shall afford you no quarter! You are lower than the lowest bacteria; barely worth the dust my weapon, which has been, specially polished for this occ.-*
Wire cut off the robots monologue with a shell to its chest, sending it backwards a few feet, it began to send streams of lasers down into the room. Wire wasted no time in cycling a new round and shooting him twice more.
“By the goddess Celestia.” Dawn fell to his haunches and covered his ears. “What is that thing.” He yelled at the robot that had begun repairing itself almost immediately after Wire’s bombardment.
*Auto-repair engaged. Eraser cannot be destroyed by your pathetic weapons! Make no mistake, Zebra scum, here you face your execution.*
Wire sent the last shell into the robots vaguely pony shaped head. A shower of sparks began covering the tile flooring, and smoke started pouring from the robots frame. *Eraser cannot be erased, pathethic Zebra infiltrator. Who dares invade the wardrobes of our priced staff? Make no mistake. The punishment is death. Eraser’s weapon fell off with a clang. Only barely remaining attached to him via a giant blue power cord.
“Luna dammed thing is invincible.” Wire began to load more shells into his gun, but Dawn interfered. “We need to go. Might be more security on the way.” He had already started to clip his doctors barding and bag on himself. “We can shut this down. Just follow me.”
Wire stuffed the the launcher back in his pack, shooting Eraser a dirty look. “Okay.”
*You cannot escape the wrath of Eraser. For the defiling, of these sacred hallways with your Zebra filth, you shall be exterminated. The robot taunted as the two vanished out, and began running towards the stairs leading further up to the audible sounds of something metallic getting smashed. Somepony was fighting above them, but they had to go upstairs anyhow.
Dawn pressed on, marching up the stairs with determination, and what met him up there was a mishmash of laser and robot’s facing down a genuine steel ranger, and some more initiates were at his side. Trying to maintain a blockade out of desks and other assorted office wares while the ranger bombarded the robots with explosives. He couldn’t reach the most vital part to end the siege of his blockade. A Mister Handy was fueling the bots with repair-spells and kept the sentinels standing.
“Oh bollocks.” There was no way past this without violence. “Can you kill that thing?”
Wire took a look past the crimson colt towards the multi-armed robot keeping the rangers pinned down. With a nod, the thief sent four shells of high explosive carnage into the fray. The first one took out the repair-bot, the rest made sure the rangers could mop up the mess without worry. He sent Dawn a smug smile.
“What?” Dawn looked back at the thief. The aftermath was brief. Though he could hear the sound of something distinct clanging to the bottom of the stairs. *Curses. Horizontal climbing device malfunction. Eraser shall locate alternate means of crossing elevated plateau.
The doctor cringed with fear. “We need to end this lockdown.” Dawn trotted towards the smoldering wreckage's of robot sentinels, and towards the rangers themselves. “Medic coming through. Clear the path, my little ponies.” They seemed surprised at this development, up until a rifle was shoved into his crimson muzzle.
“Who da fuck do you think you are sweetheart?” An unhelmeted ranger asked with a large scowl on his face.
“This is lockdown stage one where use of force intends to seal pockets of resistance. What do you think happens at stage two? Look I can offer you some healing before moving on, but I really need to get going.” Dawn began clearing their barricade. He kept a level calm and sought to invade or override the authority already there while his inner pony was trembling with fear. Certainly it was a step up from ghouls. These rangers would probably see reason so long as he didn't brandish his firearm.
“Get a load of this. This pony thinks they can come up here and tell us how to do our jobs. Right load of crap that is.” He looked back at the hallway devoid of robots. “Hmm, well, you did clear up them buckets a bit, so we’ll just take you to Scribe Butterfly instead of killin ya. Try not to be a snippy bitch.” He waved over two of the lesser equipped ponies, who proceeded to push both Dawn and Wire up the hallway.
“Alright.” Thank Celestia for small favours. They probably believe me. The doctor couldn’t do much about the situation, but at least he wasn’t dead. “No need to get rough. Just show me to your scribe, and I’ll be on my way.”
“Ha, fat chance love. You’re armed. You go nowhere without these colts watchin' you.” The Ranger turned, and hollered to his companions to assume battlepositions and remain vigilant.
“Its for protection in the wastes. You think the clean Ministry coat was just for show?” Dawn did not like the idea of being watched.
“Shut your face. Or I’ll do it meself.” He said as he opened a set of large double doors. “Have a seat, Butterfly will be with you when she can be bothered to give a fuck.”
“What? I need to override the lockdown now before it escalates, and we all die.” Surely the ranger could be reasoned with. Surely Dawn had come across as knowing more than he should know, and thusly an asset right? The fuck was this faffing about. “There isn’t much time. Just take me to your scribe.”
A steel encased hoof struck Dawn on the cheek, sending him to the floor, “I said not to be a snippy bitch. Open your mouth again and it’ll be the last time.” He walked to the door, shutting him and the thief inside. Dawn rubbed his jaw and felt more wounded than when slavers had shot him up.
Wire stood beside him, “Are you, uh, okay?”
Dawn sighed and moaned to vent his frustration. Once the ranger was gone he pulled out the stealth-buck Charger had given him. “I will be.”
“Doc, it’s no fun of somepony else kills you before I can.”Dawn pounced the thief shortly after, and pressed himself against Wire with a desperate expression. “What else can I do? Sit here and wait?” There isn't a stage two. The doctor mouthed while harshly grabbing the thief's head.
Haggis flipped a switch on the wall. A low humming began to grow as a large cylinder on the floor rocked back and forth slightly. A light in the room sprang to life. “Ah ha!” the robbed pony shouted as more lights began to turn on the service hallway. He lifted up the sleeve on his arm, reveling a PipBuck similar to Dawns’. He plugged it into a terminal on the wall that had opened up when the power was restored. “The backup generators are operating at sixty-seven percent efficiency.”
“Finally some real damn lights.” Scorch snapped the freshly filled lighter shut extinguishing the flame and placed it in her breast pocket. A faint clicking sounded from behind a thin metal door to her left. Pushing it open with a hoof, she saw a single lone radroach flapping its wings in a tiny storage closet.
Scorch felt a smile spread across her face as a tiny pop, and a feint familiar hiss sounded from her side. It’s good to have you back. Scorch lifted a hoof and pulled the heavy welding mask over her face. A soft blue glow wrapped around her horn and the little switch on the flamer tank.
A cone of orange flame erupted from the flamer nozzle, lighting up the tiny closet and torching the little roach. Scorch flipped the off switch and lifted her mask again, grinning ear to ear. Her stomach rumbled violently, she hadn’t eaten anything that day. She was hungry. “Anypony up for barbeque?”
Haggis coughed as smoke made its way into the hallway, “Um, no, I’ve already eaten today. You just have at it.” He said as he shooed Pie back out of the room.
“Pitty.” Scorch poked at the roach with a hoof, it made satisfyingly crackling sounds. “You’ve never had a radroast like mine.” And it’s well done, just the way I like it.
“I’m sure I’m missing out on everything. You finish up here, we shall wait for you at the stairs, Scorch.” Haggis said before walking down the hallway with Pie in tow, his minigun spooling up every once in a while.
“More for me.” I’m hungry as fuck. Scorch made quick work of the roasted bug. the shell roasted to a crunchy black and the meat slightly overcooked. It wasn’t the best, but Scorch has had worse. Munching on a leg she left the closet for Haggis and Pie. She found the two not long after at the foot of the stairs, talking in hushed voices.
“-in the back, never see that comin'.” Pie said through the helmet of the armour.
“No, that’s not right. I’ll do what’s neede- Oh, Scorch, didn’t see you down there.” Haggis said in a shaky tone, a jagged smile on his muzzle.
“What’re you two talkin’ about?” Scorch was still crunching on the charred leg. She was still hungry, but the roach was a tasty snack. Maybe Wire’s got another can of stuff.
“Mundane Ranger protocols. Nothing you need worry about.” Haggis said before the minigun wielding ranger could speak.
“Sure.” Scorch finished the leg with a final crunch and wiped off her muzzle. “So where you off to next?”
Haggis began to speak, but was interrupted by Pie, “We will see the head scribe for debriefing. Please go up the stairs ma’am.” The door stood open in front of the group of ponies, light tinkling down the dirty steps.
“I’ll pass, I’ve got to meet with my team.” Scorch turned and started walking the way she had come, hopefully it would be easier finding her way now that the lights were on.
The minigun began to spin to life. Haggis spoke somberly, “I am truly sorry Scorch, you need to come with us.” He put a hoof on Pie’s back, “I promise you wont get hurt.”
“No I don’t. I did my job, and I saved your sorry ass.” Scorch turned back around to face the two ponies and flipped the mask back down. “If you think threatenin’ me’s gonna work, you’re gonna end up like that roach.” The flamer pilot light popped to life. “Make a move. I fuckin’ dare you.”
“Scorch,” Haggis pleaded, “Please, listen to reason. Nopony will lay a hoof on you so long as I have a say.”
This went to shit fast. “Listen to reason? You’ve got a fuckin’ gun in my face.” Her voice was ringing in the mask. I hate Rangers.
“Pie, please stop.” Haggis said sternly to the initiate. “He’s just following orders. A mare such as yourself can understand that.”
“Why do your orders need me? I’m no raider. Just let me leave, and I won’t cook you alive.” Just let me go already, I don’t fuckin’ need this!
“Will you trust me?” Haggis said extending a hoof to her.
“Why should I, I helped you and now your threatenin’ me.” Scorch kicked at the floor. You little shit, you’re just gonna kill me if I go up there.
“When I was trapped you helped me, I do not forget things like that. This is only to make sure you are still safe when you leave this building.”
“Safe? What the hell do you mean?”
“So none of the other Rangers will get any ideas about shooting your pr- your head off when you try to leave.” He gave Pie a stern look as the ranger tried to move back closer to the two.
“What?” I am so fuckin’ confused.
“If you will come with me, it will all make sense.” He gave a smile, a bit awkward looking, but it was a smile.
“Alright, I’ll go.” Scorch snuffed out the pilot light. “But if I see anything I don’t like, I’m out.”
“I’ll be sure to compensate you for the time.” The scribe said as he told initiate Pie to keep watch ahead of them.
I don’t like rangers, but this scribe is alright. Scorch pulled a bottle from her bag and took a swig and let a little grin creep across her muzzle. He was alright.
*Unauthorised lifeforms detected. Initiating extermination protocol.
A dark metallic voice rose from the darkness behind them. You could hear metal clank and shift, as an intense white light bathed them. It looked like a pony except it had a glowing dome shaped head. The robot pony staggered with rusty limbs and the glow from its head intensified.
“I got this!” Pie yelled as his minigun spewed fire and lead for the first time, peppering the approaching robot pony, and began denting the frame. It was not enough. His fur flaked into ashes in a loud *Frtzht* as a beam from the robopony head lit him up like a christmas tree. Pie had barely had time to scream.
*Surrender, and be exterminated in an orderly fashion Zebra scum. The cold, metallic voice of the robopony stated as Haggis ran towards the ashes of his former comrade.
“He’s dead, leave him!” Scorch grabbed Haggis’ robe and yanked him back. “We’ve gotta run!” She shoved the scribe away from the robopony’s beam of death and pushed him to run towards the emergency-exit. Haggis was limping, and keeping a terrible pace. At this rate, he would only slow Scorch down.
*Resistance is futile. Surrender now and be granted a swift death.
The metallic reaper was relentless in its rusted pursuit, crushing decades old trash under its iron hooves, but with a stroke of luck, it’s laser targeting systems were still covered in years of dust. Making even the slightest semblance of a moving target extremely difficult to kill.
The robopony hit the emergency stairs with a thud. Unable to chase them further. *Get back here you cowardly dogs. This unit does not possess vertical climbing systems.
The two ponies hid behind a railing, out of view of any threats. Haggis was panting, trying to catch his breath. They where safe. “He’s gone. He laid his life down to protect me, and look what it got him. How am I going to tell his mother.”
Perfect fuckin’ time to have a breakdown Haggis. “I, uh...” What am I supposed to do? Scorch patted Haggis lightly on he back. This has never happened before, what the fuck did she do now? “It’s, um, it’s okay...”
“No, we simply die now. I’m hurt, and you are..” The scribe looked down at his forehooves and began to sob.
“Like hell we are.” Scorch jabbed Haggis hard in the shoulder. I’m not gonna get killed by some ancient robot fuck because some little pony’s got the case of the fuckin’ blues. “Get the fuck up. We’re gonna end up like your friend if we stay. Let’s move!”
“I can’t run. I need some help.” He only had three usable legs and they were all shaking under his weight.
“...and then she kissed ‘im full on the mouth, the little guy took off like a rocket.” The small ring of ponies around the table burst into laughter from the dark orange pony’s joke.
“She wasn’t even that good lookin’.” A large sand coloured buck said from his beer glass.
“Hey Scorchy,” a light blue buck called out from opposite Scorch. “With your looks, you’d get any stallion with just a little peck on the cheek.”
The whole table roared with laughter again.
Well, here goes nothin’. “Yes you can.” Scorch leaned forward and gave Haggis a light kiss on the cheek. This better fuckin’ work or I’m gonna finish what that bot started.
“I uh, uh.” The pony was speechless, completely blindsided, but at least his legs weren't shakin.
The scribe blinked back at her with a somber expression. “We should get help. Go somewhere safe.” He stuttered out and looked back down for the robopony. “The rest of us should be on the third floor.”
Static. This blasted defensive mechanism was preventing things from getting in, but it was also preventing everything of importance from getting out too. Charger had said to find a way to open this radio channel, and the only way would be to open the damn shutters. Worse these steel rangers were not exactly nice, and who knows what this Scribe Butterfly knew or didn’t. Too many variables.
Time began to crawl forward. Seconds he stood there, pressing himself against Wire, and the buck had not changed his surprised expression either. Yes. I lied, and I’ll feel terrible about it but this would have to be done one way or the other. What else was i supposed to say? Hello I’m a doctor. Mind opening the shutters keeping us all alive for a bit so i can see if a pegasus friend of mine who may or may not be enclave is ready to help us? Trust me its for a good cause. He said Friendship City was relying on me, but the only proof i have of that is his word.
Wire’s hooves slapped him on the cheek. Dawn blinked, and nodded in embarrassment. Leting the thief go. “Right. Stealthbuck. Any advice?” He grimaced. This plan was not the best he had ever laid.
“Oh Luna have mercy, please let me have misheard that.” Wire pushed the crimson buck off of him as he shook his head.
“Misheard what? I usually don’t spout nonsense. Unlike somepony else.” He let his fears be devoured by curiosity, and anger. How did I even let myself be lead by the muzzle into this. Charger had better be ready once i get the shutters up. Then Dawn recalled the PipBuck he had longed for. “Right. So back to the topic of stealth.” He said with a smile. Cheerfully pretending that nothing was going to go wrong. This plan was not going to get them killed or anything. Not at all. In fact the risk of dying just increases exponentially once steel rangers find out you are out to disrupt their actions. He would probably be better off waiting for this Scribe to bother calling.
Wire was quiet for a moment, lost in thought, “Let me see it.”
“See it? No. Advice. Then you open the door, and I leave. Its just a stealtbuck. There is nothing more or less with it.” Dawn slotted it into the PipBuck. It was only a matter of activating it, and then he would be invisible.
“How many you got?” He cringed slightly as the device turned on.
“Charger only gave me the one.” He hesitated for a moment. “Is that bad?”
He let out a sigh, “Well you kinda just wasted some of it. They short out quicker than you want.” Wire dug around in his pack for a few moment, producing a more polished looking device. “Emergency only, got it?”
“Ask me later. Times tickin for ya. Don’t get near nothin, or sensors will find you. Move fast and stay in the dark. Now the real question, how you gettin out of here?”
“You open the door naturally, and distract whoever is outside. If they even bothered to guard us. They seemed rather understaffed. Just ask for a toilet break or whatever, and leave some space for me to slip out.” That sounded promising, yes.
“If they hit me, you’re gonna get it twice as hard.” Wire looked displeased as he walked up to the door, “Don’t take any uh, unneeded risks.” He pulled on the handle and flung open the doors, walking out in the hallway, “I require a bathro-” A baton hit him over the head.
“Get the fuck back in there, or we’ll treat you as hostile.” One of the rangers said as he flung Wire back into the room. “Is that so hard for you to understand?” Dawn slipped by them unnoticed, and followed the arrow. Fortunately having a PipBuck meant near clairvoyance when it comes to where there are ponies. Only a few green dots. Less than twenty in total now that he was counting, and nothing beyond the initial defences.
He looked into the managers office. Fuck. Why was Butterfly here? Did she know something? What was that scribe pony thinking right now as she plodded on the terminal Dawn needed to open the shutters, and he was out of stealthbucks with very little time left to. Okay, here goes nothing. “Hello.” Dawn gave his best smile, and entered the room as if it was natural. “I’m the doctor. You might’ve heard of me. Pretty sure I sent word.”
“Ah yes, the bumbling colt with medical saddlebags. Some inane babble about a level 2 security. I was just going to blast you. Saved me the trouble of getting up.” The mare had a calm and even tone, her horn glowed, but anything in it’s grasp wasn’t immediately apparent.
“Well. Stopped your guys from shooting. Good enough I suppose.” Dawn sighed with relief. He had counted on her figuring out that lie. In fact he had hoped she would. The doctor took a few trying steps and looked around the Head managers office. “I’m with Friendship you see, and I could prove my friendly intentions if there was a way to get contact with the outside from within this bunker.”
“Why would I care what pretenses you are here under. All I, I, where did you acquire that?” She moved her head slightly around the screen of the terminal, “On your leg there. Where did you get it?”
“Same place I came from. Friendship city of course.” Dawn grimaced. Oh no. She’s gonna? Yea. Turns out Butterfly is a bastard Dawn. “It’s pretty dark in here. Sitting in front of a terminal like that is gonna make your eyes turn into squares. Here let me help you.” The doctor let his yellow horn glow dimly. “It’s really strange how everypony forgets these small things. Better now? You feel calmer? Relaxed? You could really use a nice spa, or one of those prewar massages. Just imagine how it would feel. And. Loosen. Up. Don’t you think you deserve some well earned rest?”
“What is this? You think I. I do need a break. Just for,” She blinked hard several times, her horn slowly going dim, “I’ll kill you, you bitch.” She muttered out as her head fell forward on the keyboard of the terminal, horn going dark.
Dawn suppressed a victory cheer, but his mind was throwing mental hoops for minutes afterwards while he struggled to put her in a proper sleeping posture. “Sleep tight.” It felt like cheating or something, but it was fun when it worked. I’ll just wave my magic horn and make everything alright. Everything. Dawn began browsing the screen and looked for a way to open just the top level shutters, but to no avail. Everything or nothing. Why did he have to make these decisions? Well technically it was Chargers, but it was still his hooves on the trigger.
Hopefully Charger wouldn’t kill the sleeping mare. Giggling he initiated the shutter opening sequence, and took a sugar-bomb to celebrate. Immediately his PipBuck sparkled to life, and the radio channel Charger had mentioned opened up.
*Finally. I’ve been waiting for almost two hours. You guys moved at a snails pace as expected.* It was Charger and ten seconds afterwards that yellow and purple streak flew past him. Charger stopped looking mildly confused. “Others?”
“Around. There are steel rangers inside, and there is still some security around, so we got separated.”
The pegasus nodded thoughtfully. “Yea. I was prepared for that. Though Steel Rangers you say. Huh. I take it she’s one of them.” He jumped on the sleeping mare, and pushed at her. “Not dead? Did you drug her or something?”
“Something like that.” The doctor agreed. Quickly stopping Charger from continuously slapping her cheeks to try and wake her. “She’s not gonna wake for a while.” The doctor pleaded, and the goggled pegasi looked up. His battlesaddle giving off a satisfying hum. “Let’s go then, and use these on the tin can’s.”
Dawn stared at the dusin blue marked grenades. “EMP’s.” He felt a surge of happiness. Charger was going to disable the few rangers that were left. Limiting causalities. Yay~ “There are so few of them inside metal armors though. Don’t you have some riot gas or something?”
Charger shook his head. “Now remember to toss the grenades fast. Because these foals have the same advantages as you. Namely SATS, EFS, and they won’t hesitate to kill you.”
“Ehehehe.” Gulping his fears down the doctor accepted these grenades. Charger nodded for him to go first. What kind of idiot sends the doctor first? This was going to end so badly. Grenades have two safeties. The pin is the first, twist and pull. The second is a clip, a forged handle for hoof-throwing purposes.
The blue grenade rolled forward, aided by Dawns magic to ensure a hit, then the ranger turned to face him, and lifted his grenade-machinegun barrel, but it was already too late. There was a loud crackle as energy rippled trough the air, and disabled the ranger’s spell matrix and trapped the pony inside. Red light flared up on his compass. Eight dots beamed towards him, with loaded weapons. Dawn prepared a second grenade, but these where initiates: Their armor while protecting vitals, and weighing them down significantly, did not have any spell matrix that could be disrupted.
Macintosh roared, but without SATS to guide his shots Dawns only hope was that the gun itself intimidated them. It took four rounds just to hobble a pony. The three other shots hit the concrete wall. Charger pulled him into cover patting him on the shoulder as you would a pet. “You really are useless in combat. Just wait for the next real Tin-pony before throwing that next grenade.”
“Fuck you.” Dawn felt his body shake with adrenaline and a strange cold sensation. He didn’t want to look beyond the wall for another Ranger. He didn’t want to see any of them anymore.
“Well. Let’s see how Rangers train their initiates these days.” Charger stepped into the hallway with relaxed care. His saddle was humming brightly with arcane energies, and then the security pony unleashed barrages of green light towards the rangers.
Because of the high neckline on his black uniform Charger’s expression was hidden from sight: Giving him the apperance of looking unfazed by the hail of bullets coming his way. Meanwhile the sounds of ranger initiates melting, and screaming in pain began to hound the poor doctors mind. He couldn’t see the massacre but then again you don’t need to see when you hear somepony scream in agony as his body melts into a sickening green goo. Please Charger, don’t do this. How can this be something Friendship City needs. It was too late to beg, nor did Charger seem to care.
The pegasi turned his head towards Dawn as if giving a signal of sorts, and then the world in front of Dawn blackened in a series of explosions. It was too late to say, “Oh right. I’m supposed to throw these grenades whenever a real Steel Ranger appears. I forgot.” Charger vanished in a hail of grenade machine-gun fire.
It stopped and there was only silence, and the mechanical clatter of a steel ranger approaching. Coming for Dawn no doubt. Coming to end it. Was this what he had been waiting for? Two years inside Friendship city. Merely maintaining the status quo so he can get a bullet to the head. No. “No.”
He swallowed dry spit, and felt the skin on his muzzle rip, it stung, and then he thew the grenades around the corner. There was a crackle, and then Dawn threw more grenades around the corner. Chucking every last one of them using different altitudes until the world was silenced.
Carefully he looked around the corner to the sound of two very frustrated pony Steel Rangers trapped in their suits, and a last initiate. “Just run back home. Please.” Dawn cried out. “I don’t want any more ponies to die!”
Dawn’s attention was drawn back at the blackened pile of coal that was Charger, and to his surprise the pegasi rose from his grave in an act that made the doctor’s skin crawl. The teal skin was blackened and fuming with the heat of repeated explosions. Most of the skin on his chest and neck had been torn away revealing thick layers of metal. The nice black coat had been torn apart, and the tacky flyer goggles lay at Chargers feet: crushed.
Chargers metallic voice was like a tear in a radio: Loud and piercing every eardrum in the vincinity. *Toss your gun over here. I’ll deal with this myself if you can’t do it.*
“You. You’re a robopony?”
The surprise made it easy for the blackened pegasi to tear Macintosh away from Dawns magical grasp. Emptying the remaining bullets towards the last initiate, he discarded the gun. Opting to walk towards his goal.
*Fuck. If you want something done you always gotta do it yourself. Just stay still. I’ll be right over and solve this matter in ten seco.-* His metallic breathing sounded strained and damaged as the pegasi trotted forwards. The initiate screamed in fear at the approaching menace, and discharged his weapon, once twice, thrice to no avail. The bullets were shrugged off his metallic hide with small thunderous cracks.
*Just spare me the trouble and shoot yourself already.*
It was as if he had been shut down. The initiate began laughing, unable to believe his own luck.
Dawn trotted forward and quickly embraced the pegasi. The doctor silently wished Charger had died, but his unnatural metallic breath was still there: Faint, but present while the Ranger finished celebrating.
“Heheh, and now you die too.”
The initiate fell over shot with his own gun. “Goddess Celestia!”
Dawn knew the ranger was dead before checking him. A bullet to the head tends to do that. The disabled ranger behind him gave a grunt, and Dawn barely managed to look in the direction before the two rangers exploded into metal shrapnel and gore as if they were overripe cans of food.
“Everypony’s dead.” Fuck. Dawn weakly gave Charger one of the healing potions. The robopony opened his eyes and rose. He observed the mess with a calm mind, and looked to Dawn
*How long was I out?* His metallic voice made the doctor cringe. “Just a moment.”
*Wait here.* The pegasus pony tested his wings, and gave Dawn a smile of ash and death. His entire lower jaw was metal. The paint on his lower teeth flaked and utterly revealing. “How..” Charger was gone before anything more could be said. He had the look as if he needed to do something important.
“Wait.” The doctor ignored his hunger, and followed Charger back into the office Butterfly was in. Charger was shaking the scribe. “What?”
Butterfly shrieked when she woke to Chargers face. The pegasi promptly shut her up with a hoof to the face. *Did you send word out? Do you have an emergency beacon or a vox radio with you?*
“I’m. not. betraying..” Butterfly managed to stutter out before Charger shut her up by shoving his Battle-saddle weapon muzzle into her mouth.
*The weapon you are sucking on is the twin Novasurge standard issue plasma rifle. It was just recently heated for this very occasion, and it will be used on every friend you have left in this place until you tell me what I know.* Buttefly moaned with pain, and began pushing at Charger to make him stop.
“Charger.. I..Uh.” Dawn didn’t want to speak. No. This was wrong. “She can’t fight back or anything...”
*What?* Charger huffed angrily back at the doctor and turned. Momentarily pausing his act of torture he looked to the doctor. The smell of roasting flesh began to fill the air.
“You..” The doctor was stunned: Charger was a blackened enraged mess. Something had snapped inside of the pegasus. “It’s been five minutes. They probably haven’t radioed or whatev-”
*It could be an emergency beacon. Operatives used them all the time during the war.* Chargers maddening grin gave the world a grim shear to it. *Who knows what these thieves have acquired during years of hoarding tech for themselves? I scouted them moving out from Bucklyn Cross. They definitely had a tech savvy scribe with a bag full of tricks. Where is he?* He threw Butterfly into the wall. *Where is he!*
Dawn needed a shoulder to cry on, so he bolted. He couldn’t stay. He was such an idiot, and worse he knew he was. The doors where he had last seen Wire were forced open by telekinetic magic. “Wire.” Dawn bolted for the thief with tears in his eyes.
Wire slammed the door and grabbed Dawn by the neck while holding up his other hoof to hit him. The fur around his mane was stained pink and red (Most likely from the hit over the head). Dawn waited for the strike, but it never came.
“Why the fuck would you let him in?” He dropped his striking hoof, but still held onto Dawn’s collar.
“What else could I have done? I needed a pipbuck. He said this was for Friendship City.” Dawn wiped his tears and muzzle on Wire’s clean coat. Sobbing, and clinging to the thief as if Wire was a plushie. “Steel ranger’s are bad ponies, right?” He whimpered.
“And that pegasus is any better?” Wire looked uncomfortable, he began to push the buck away.
“No.” Dawn shook his head, and looked the thief in the eyes. “We. We need to save the scribe. He. He is torturing her, and all the others are dead. I can’t stop him alone.”
“How...” He said through clenched teeth. His eyes were different sizes, he didn’t look like a healthy pony, let alone one that could stop the terror the was Charger.
“I don’t know. He was shot with grenades, and when he woke up it was like he was a different pony.” Dawn clinged himself tighter to Wire. Trying to calm himself, the doctor focused on Wire’s bruises. “Oh goddess Celestia. That ranger. He beat you, and it’s my fault.” He plucked out a healing potion. “It’s all my fault.”
“Yes it is. Now you’ve got to deal with it.” He batted the health potion away from his face.
The doctor vanished into a dark corner of his mind, his spirit dragged back screaming into a lonely, and dark wasteland. “Oath breaker.” A ghost looked at him with eyes of hate. The wind shook his newborn muscles. There was blood and he was hungry, so very hungry.
A hoof hit his cheek, not with much force, but enough to snap him out of his dream. “Come on, wake up. I can’t deal with this right now.”
Dawn shivered but had stopped crying. “I don’t want to go back out. He’s worse than Scorch.”
An orange gout of flame tore through the doorway, igniting the wooden bookcase and the books in a contained inferno. A black mare strutted though the doorway, her grinning face outlined by the fire. “Miss me?”
“By the moon! Scorch?” Wire said as he jumped back on top of the desk, breathing a sigh of relief.
“I’ll take that as a yes.” Scorch was still grinning from ear to ear. “Got anymore cans of food? I’m fuckin’ hungry.”
Dawn stifled a sniffle and held a fake smile. “I have oats, some sugar bombs , and I see you got the power back on.”
“Yeah, yeah, what about those oats?” The rumble from her belly was audible over the crackling fire.
Dawn levitated a tin filled with oats towards her. “Do you want water too? It can get a bit dry without it.”
“Sure, just gimme the bottle.” Scorch grabbed the can and dropped it front of her, a hoof still held out expectantly.
The radio crackled to life after Dawn had given her water. He needed a proper distraction.
*In other news it looks like the Crimson Caravan was ambushed just a few hours trot from the Friendship City ferry station. For all their words it appears like the City council cannot guarantee safe passage or provide any help guarding caravans these days. Their pegasi watchmen seem to have more important things to do. Like playing tag with manticores. This was DJ-Pon3. Telling you that Friendship City has a problem with the friendship part of their city, and here’s Sapphire Shores with some music.
“No. No wait.” Dawn began scratching the PipBuck with his hooves switching off the tunes of Sapphire shores telling the world that “Tears are for the past.” It’s not true. The voice on the radio is lying. Its not true. “This can’t be happening. No.” The doctor rose, feeling numb and dying inside. “I need to go.”
“What was that all about Doc? Doc?” Biting Dawn’s tail as he tried to trot away.
“Let me go. They need me.” Dawn had nearly bucked the thief in the face, and then all the anger dissapated. He didn’t even know where to look. Nor if they lived. If they where hurt, or dying. The doctor let his tears flow freely, and he couldn’t help but start sobbing. Reduced to an incoherent rambling mess of crying pony he tried to explain but the words didn’t flow right.
“It’s just an exaggeration. They must have just gotten turned around. You know how tired they were.” Wire turned to Scorch, his voice barely audible, “Something hit the kids caravan.”
Dawn began walking again, and then a loud crash made him turn. He was dizzy from all the crying, and felt worse than ever, but he could still make out the black and red pony destroying everything inside the room. “You can’t.. We need to..” He gave up. Telling her to come with him was a foals errand. What a child. So was he though. Clinging to a foals hope that they were still alive. Captives or escaped. Whatever, so long as they where not dead he could save them.
“Doc, you’re just gonna run out there like a chicken in a rainstorm?” Wire said, easily catching up to Dawn.
“What?” The doctor shook his head, and kept walking until he got to the stairs. He felt off-balance so he took a rest to wipe his eyes, and then perked his ears. There were sounds. Large thuds, on the ground way below them, and crackles of electricity as if large wire’s were being torn apart.
“Look, I can go calm down Scorch, and we can all get out of here before Charger gets wise to us. But you go out there alone, you’re just gonna get fucked up.” Wire was twitching with each smash and bolt that sounded.
“Celestia damn robot. Spray me with soap again. Just you fucking dare.” Charger popped back at the third floor moments later, coated in a white foam that seemed to shed the blackness and make his exposed metallic chest and neck rather shiny. “What are you two up to? Not done here yet.”
Wire shoved a hoof into Dawn’s mouth, “We were simply getting our things together, and he wanted some fresh air is all.”
“Well. Now that the Steel Rangers are dealt with and the entrance is secured with a bunch of mines we can get started, Doctor.” Charger clopped his hooves together. “What?” The pegasus perked his head forward now that he could see clearly. “It’s just a bunch of tin canned rats. They would have torn you apart for your PipBuck, and I needed to make sure they had not contacted anypony. Not worth crying about.”
Dawn looked to Wire for help with expressing himself. The doctor simply couldn’t think of anything other than the foals.
“Yeah, we’re glad you got em, but Doc here is feelin’ ill and wants some fresh air is all. He gonna be useless if he keeps
“Then go up on the roof or open a window. I just mined the entrance. First floor is off limits.” Charger removed Wire’s hoof from Dawns muzzle and got up uncomfortably close. “I need you intact, and you will do what I need you to do or the ponies you care about here will start dying.”
Dawn simply fell limply to the ground once Chargers hoof was gone from his face, and began taking in the truly fascinating floor tiles. It’s not fair.
Wire slinked under him and stood up, wearing Dawn like a blanket, “Eyup, we’ll get right on that. Gotta make sure he’s in tip-top shape though,” Wire began to head towards Scorch who had walked out of the room, apparently killed all the furniture contained within, “Trot with me.” He said through clenched teeth and a quiet tone.
“They are probably dead anyhow.” Dawn’s head hung low. He took dead steps, and slowed the thief down considerably. “The wasteland does that stuff to ponies all the time.”
“Will you just shut the fuck up.” Scorch’s mask was down, but the anger in her voice still betrayed her expression. “They ain’t dead. They’re probably hidin’ somewhere. So stop your fuckin’ mopin’.”
“Doc’s done checked out, ain’t no use. Are there stairs back this way? Need to get to the roof.” Everystep the blond pony made was hard, the pony on his back struggling to make sure no progress was made.
“Whats the use of going up on the roof?” Dawn threw himself off the thief and landed near a pile of ash. “I killed these ponies, and now the foals are dead.”
“Get the fuck up.” Scorch grabbed Romeo by the shoulder and threw him against the wall, pinning him there. “They’re dead. All of them. Well so fucking what.” Scorch pushed her mask into Romeo’s face. “They all died and you can’t change that. So get of your fuckin’ ass and stop being a whiny little bitch!”
“Scorch.” Wire put a hoof on her shoulder. “Yell later, you’ll need your energy.”
Scorch violently shrugged off the hoof on her shoulder and was still for a moment. “I’ll give you somethin’ to whine about.” She pulled her head back and smashed her mask straight into Romeo’s face. She pulled back from Romeo and let him slump to the floor.
“What the fuck Scorch?” Wire said as he pushed the larger mare back, “If you want to see them foals again, I suggest we stick together.” Wire pulled the limp buck back on top of him, “Just help me get to the fuckin’ roof.”
“Give him here.” Scorch pointed a hoof at Romeo. “It’ll go faster if I take him.”
Wire pushed the door to the roof open, bits of rust fell from where it had closed nearly two hundred years ago. He had been the one that needed the fresh air to think, the stuffy hospital fogging his already withdrawal-clogged head. He hadn’t taken a hit of Med-X, and now wasn’t the time.
“Scorch, just put him down there.” He sighed, mad that he had no idea how to go about this. “Do you have a plan to get us out of here?”
Scorch unceremoniously dropped Romeo and let him lay where he fell. “Other than jump off the roof we’re stuck.” She sat and pulled a bottle of whiskey out of her bag. “Unless you feel like facing down robo-fuck and a whole minefield.”
A minefield Wire could deal with, just disarming and going would be no trouble at all. Charger, on the other hoof, that was the real problem.
Cyberponies. It just had to be cyberponies.
The air felt nice, a cool breeze on his face distracting him a moment from the throbbing in his head. “Had they build this place a bit more like a triangle box maybe.” Words like pyramid were slowly becoming lost to his vocabulary.
“Just do what he wants. Less chance of being reduced to dust..” The Doctor shot Scorch a hurt glance while rubbing his cheek.
“Fuck him. Ain’t that hard to pull the wool over his ears. We just gotta sneak out nice and quiet like.” Scorch is gonna be a hastle, like tryin to make a tank quiet. Wire sighed. Dawn is about as useful as a sack of flour, too.
“Quiet?” Scorch laughed as she flipped up her mask. “This drama queen would give us away in seconds.”
That’s when he heard it. The telltale sound of a stealthbuck being switched on, “Doc, why the hell would you wast-” He turned to see the crimson colt in plain view, no device on his PipBuck. He’s not invisible. “You’re not invisible.”
“I’m not invisible.” Dawn looked back at the thief with confusion.
Something ain’t right here. Invisible ponies is what Wire was now searching for. Had he been in better mind, less scared, more prepared, he would have found humor in it. He just had to find the object that didn’t fit in, then he would find the Stealth Buck’s user. “Now, nopony panic.”
“Panic? Why the fuck would I panic?” Scorch had the bottle in her hooves almost pressed against her lips.
Then she exploded. A familiar black-green smoke oozed from Wire’s riot-grenade that had mysteriously found its way next to the firemare.
The outline of the firemare was barely visible, she fell to the ground forehooves covering her face. The coughs were quick and forced. “I’ll kill you!” Scorch managed to scream from inside the cloud. Pure anger forced the words out of her muzzle, but it only served to make her swallow more as she ghasped for air later.
“Scorch! Just don’t move!” Wire yelled to the mare, no way to know if it would get through. He checked the roof. Nothing. Come out. Wire flipped the blade out of his holster, ready to cut down any sneaking ponies.
“You’re-” *Cough cough* “You’re dead!” Scorch’s voice was strained. Her coughing intensified.
The gas seemed to have a mind of its own. With a bright shimmer the riot-gas was wrapped around her head. Choking Scorch until the mare surrendered.
Wire drew his pistol and fired around Scorch’s head, trying to hit anypony standing behind her. Look for the broken lines, Wire. There was a shimmer in the corner of his eye, and then gravity turned on him. His hoof twisted in an unfair manner, and with a thud the thief fell to the ground. Wire’s own blade stuck into his chest. The pain signaled his brain in waves of force. Crafty bitch. Wire pulled the blade out, and blood flowed freely..
A hoof struck him in the mouth. Disarming him of his gun as the stealthbuck faded. She was a glowing purple ghost. Her fur sucking greedily at whatever light there was in the wasteland, and spitting it out in a twisted nighttime overglow. He looked at the ghost in surprise of seeing his own blood turn neon. She seemed to get really angry. Brandishing her teeth in a scowl.
“Not so hard to find without that tech huh?” Wire’s breathing was laboured, he had surely lost a tooth. The thief drew back and swung his hoof at her with little accuracy. One good shot and your face is gone. Gravity betrayed the thief again, and pain wracked his body. Wire could see the endless cloud cover to the tune of his ringing ears.
Wire rose, his back flaring in pain. The monster was gone again. But he could find her. He hoped at least. Dawn had gotten up from his pity pile and removed the cloud surrounding the firemare, making sure she was okay. Wire drew his knife out again. He made it his new purpose the stare at her, make her feel the pain of his sight on her. Make her alien fur crawl. Make your move. Do it.
It was quiet for a moment, nothing was sticking out in front of him. That’s when it hit him. You fuckin’ useless idiot, Wire. You never attack from the front. She’s behind you. Waiting. ‘Cause that’s what you’d do. Wire undid the strap on his knife, taking it into his mouth. Now lie like you always do. “I give. You’re better than me.” He knelt down and felt the lack of a breeze assaulting his damaged back. Drawing from his inner pool of strength, he twirled and hurled the knife as hard as he could behind him.
The air shimmered, and a mare moaned in pain. The stealthbuck began to shimmer revealing her for the second time, and then his assailant jumped on him with rage in her eyes. Striking him repeatedly until the darkness of sleep began to loom in the horizon. Trying to defend himself in his weakened state was impossible, and his foe did not relent.
*Blacklight,* Chargers metallic voice rippled trough the air; a sharp needle of reality in Wire’s hazy, pain-filled existence, though he hardly felt much anymore. The glowing pony stopped her ferocious beating, and perked her ears in attention. *That’s enough. We need them alive.* Wire turned his head to see Charger and Dawn.
“Please.” Dawn squirmed. Held in place by the cyberpony. “I’ll do anything.” He sniffled half crying.
*Perfect. Because I need your medical expertise for some impromptu surgery.*
“Mighty Restoration” Rank 1 Prerequisites: INT 7, Medicine 100: Ah, the old Ministry of Peace; beloved throughout Equestria for their ability to snatch ponies from the jaws of death. To most, healing other ponies is a draining affair, requiring intense focus and significant amounts of magical energy. To you? Old hat. Reduced casting time, magical drain and focus threshold for healing spells.
“Iron Constitution” 1 Rank Prerequisites: END 7: Born and bred in the Wastes, your ability to endure the ever-present hazards of the Equestrian Wasteland has increased noticeably. Your resistance to the damaging effects of poison and radiation has been improved by 30%.
“Weakness Leaving the Body” Rank 2 Prerequisites: Chem Reliant, END 5 Medicine 35: Holy shit! You can still stand after that? Wow. You must be a wizard or something. When under the effects of painkillers, add an extra 10% DR to their effects.
Story is coauthored by Volk, Redundant and Damhoof.
Big hugs to DamnfoolBrony author of "Kiss Equestria Goodbye."
Things were beginning to make a lot of sense for Doctor Dawn. The stealthed assassin, the torture of rangers. It was obvious that Charger was not working with Friendship at all, and that this was all some elaborate ruse. Most likely concocted with Party-Time Mint-als. That made sense, right?
“Please. Let me go to him, I won’t use any magic. Just let me make sure he doesn’t die.” Dawn begged the cyber-pegasus pinning him down. Tears streaked his red cheeks, and choking with heartache the doctor finally stopped struggling. He looked up to that blackened merciless robotic face for a sign, and Charger looked back.
*Granted.* He let the doctor go.
A cold chill running trough his mane and body as what was left of Horseshoe tower peaked in the horizon. Dawns mouth felt dry as if the doctor had spent the day without water. Every step forward was an agonizing slow reminder of a past event where he had been stranded in the wasteland.
A lone pony against the vast emptiness reached out from the dark corners of his imagination and a strange ache took place inside his heart.
Wire’s death was an unspeakable, unbearable nightmare he couldn’t bear to experience. The blonde pony shivered with death and his breathing was laboured and fast paced. Dark, glistening blood was still leaking from Wire’s wounded shoulder and pooling underneath them. Painting the thief in those grim shades reserved for corpses.
From having seen Blacklight’s assault Dawn could draw an educated guesstimate on the extent of the damage. It was a brutal beating with agonizing intent.
The smallframed earth pony had more fragile bones than his kind, but what grieved Dawn the most was that without magic he could not mend them back properly. Fortunately the cracked ribs hadn’t ripped open Wire’s lungs or damaged his internal organs.
The doctor opted for a healing potion to restore them into some semblance of normality. While it wouldn’t set the bones perfectly, it was better to begin mending them, than to leave him with all those cracked ribs.
Wire’s laboured breathing slowed down to an extent, and the thief began to stabilise soon after.
Dawn had time to do a thorough check. The ribs had seemed heal okay, no head trauma, neck was fine. Breathing wasn’t slurred or raspy. The stab wound had healed.
the doctor noticed a corruption running deep in Wire’s hind-leg. An oily liquid was seeping out trough the holes in his shoe, and upon further inspection the hoof seemed to have been in this state for days.
The doctor had no time to guess what Charger would do. Instead he acted on instinct. Tearing out the iron shoe and hugging the wounded leg with his horn. Magic potions don’t work on wounds like this, festered and diseased.
Dawn’s yellow magic soared through the leg. Flushing way any signs of the corruption ever existing. There had been no choice in the matter. It was either this or loose it later down the line.
*What did you promise me about your magic doctor? You might need it for me.* Chargers voice pierced Dawns ears and the scorched cyber-pegasi began tugging the doctor away.
“No. Please, he just needed a bit of magic, and now some bandages.” The doctor wriggled out of Chargers loose grip with a set of magically enhanced bandages from his saddle-bags at the ready.
Dawn began wrapping the bandage tightly around the base of Wire’s leg, taking the time to do this properly before continuing down to the hoof.
Would this be enough?
Was this all I had to give?
He recalled Aphrodisiac’s diary.
“Eith, one of the several Zebra glyphs representing the element of magic... One of the few I have had the pleasure to use extensively. In combination with Zohm... More than triple the effect of a regular healing potion.”
Dawn looked at Wire’s hoof feeling a strange, almost overwhelming temptation to carve on it. Now that the corruption and the rusted shoe were gone Dawn would have plenty of room to carve the symbols on.
What harm could it do?
More than triple the effect huh? Why not see it for myself after all Wire is just an addict. Why not use his body? Experiment a little.
First the circular shape of Eith. The glyph of magic was an elaborate form of six circles, that ended in a flourish intended to connect it with the next glyph. The sharp and broken Zohm, pained and jagged with an unnatural crookedness. He could recall them with almost photographic accuracy.
It was almost as if they wanted to be drawn. This was dangerous territory. He had to discard these thoughts for now at least. To wield magical runes he had just recently found in a random prewar diary would just be reckless and childish.
Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time he did something along those lines.
Wrapping the bandages over the thief’s hoof Dawn discarded the idea for now. Instead he sent the usual prayer to Celestia. It was up to her and Wire now.
Just like all his patients before. No need for hastily drawn runes from some prewar diary. Dawn sighed, and his thoughts returned back to the situation at hand. “I’ll do whatever you have in mind, so take him downstairs and give him a bit of rest.” He looked towards Scorch, and saw Blacklight had stripped her gear off, and was now carrying the black mare back down. “Scorch need’s a rebreather. You hear me? Blacklight?”
Charger was blocking the way as Dawn began walking towards the glowing pony. “There’s usually a rebreather in each of the guest quarters, and some inside patient rooms. In case of a larger scale gas-attacks or fire.”
It had been a thinly veiled ploy, and it still was. Smiling, and blinking with salted eyes Dawn looked to Charger. “Let’s get this over with.”
Charger raised an eyebrow at that and coughed. Instead of speaking up, the pegasus instead pointed at a segment at the base of his neck. It was easy to spot once it had been pointed out. This surprisingly flexible layer of metal muscle that had previously been hidden by his skin contained a small crack, and Charger simply couldn’t reach it himself.
With Dawn nearby, he didn’t have to either. There was a black pipbuck compatible cord inside, and after some insistent coughing on his part Dawn began working on it.
“Is this?” Charger nodded and made gestures of speech that never had any audible cues outside of breathing. Proving to Dawn that he was mute now. “Right.”
Dawn plugged it into his pipbuck as instructed by the pegasus pony, and the screen flickered to life; Showing him Chargers entire throat system. Basically a reforged metal-made speaking system based on the living one. An incredible technological accomplishment. It was hard not to be amazed by it. Who the fuck in the wasteland had the resources to found this thing?
The images showed damage to his deeper vocal cords, and signaled for extensive repair, though most of the damage could be adjusted away. All he had to do was lower the damaged ones, and adjust the others to give a more pleasing output.
“Testing. Testing, one, two, and three.” Charger gave his new voice a try, and instantly looked as if he wanted to kill Dawn, but the act faded quickly. It was replaced by a sad acceptance that this would be his new voice until repairs could be carried out.
Dawn stifled a giggle and refrained from patting the cyber-pegasi on his shoulder. “I’ve certainly heard worse.”
“I sound like a mare.... What is the time?” Charger ripped the pipbuck to him. “We have the time. Let’s bring him inside for now. Leave the gear for later.”
“Time for what?” Dawn usually prided himself on solving puzzles with snippets of information, but this winged menace just kept surprising him at every turn.
“Until our ride,” Charger boasted, and begun lifting the injured Wire with physical ease. Cradling the small framed, and wounded thief in an augmented, metallic muscled embrace like a baby. “Let’s find him a room.”
“What? Wire needs an auto-doc. I can’t mend eight rib fractures with a single potion. For the goddesses sake, just let me do the surgery, and then operate on Wire after,” Dawn pleaded.
“Sound’s reasonable. Unfortunately I ain’t that stupid,” Charger neighed. “From my perspective, this criminal has proven to be fairly resourceful. Given a restored body he’s bound to mess up things. You cure him and Scorch dies.”
“What?” Unable to believe it Dawn wanted to ask again, but the pegasi simply flew back inside without as much as a second glance. “This isn’t funny Charger,” He spoke in an upset tone as he hurried after the pair.
The yellow and browned hallway seemed to blend in with how he was feeling. Chasing after that flying pony with his purple streaked mane, and ruined blue coat made him feel tired. It was like the world slowed down to a trickle.
Ever since he had heard that radio broadcast he had simply cried and left the fate of two children he had deeply appreciated spending time with in flux. Four Leaf had wrecked his mask with his childish innocence and even called him princess.
Goddess damn-it. Leaf and Rabbit were far too skilled to die, and still carried with them the infinite potential of foal-hood. These children did not deserve to be left to their fates. Leaf might call him mommy if he saved them.
Both were earth ponies though. Cute, yet slightly limited by their race if he intended to take them in as apprentices. Their wide eyed innocence might even pull Wire out of his drug habits. Yes. Wire was clearly hiding things from him. No useless drug addict turned thief could have thrown a knife at some stealthy assassin like that.
It seemed like an eternity had taken before Charger stopped to open a door. Dawn was still following with heavy heart. “Don’t just fucking run away when I want to talk to you.” The doctor cried out in exhaustion as he slowed down.
Charger had dropped the thief down at one of the many beds that lined the room. An act which made the dust from several the years of negligence swoosh into the air. With a static sigh of dismissal the cyberpony proceeded to gather this dust in a cloud, and then he discarded it in a surprisingly mundane fashion.
Dawn didn’t hesitate and ran forward to prep the leg holster to elevate the previously corrupted leg. Charger was one thing, but the thief was another.
He owed Wire his life, and it had been the first act of genuine emotion Dawn had seen directed towards himself in a good while.
Dawn reached out, and brushed Wire’s grey mane away. Revealing Wire’s rather cute sleepy face. Ignoring Chargers presence he leaned down and planted a kiss on the thief’s cheek.
What did Wire want from him? What could he possibly do? Should he kill Charger during surgery? Fuck Scorch. Scorch can just go die. He’d get here from Surgery within a minute, it’d be easy. Just raid the emergency surgery closet, and prepare for invisible mares.
“This isn’t for Friendship city is it?” Dawn looked at the metallic lines and the blackened damaged fur. Charger had suffered from a barrage of exploding grenade machine-gun fire. Because Dawn had hesitated to help his merciless slaughter of Steel Rangers.
Charger blinked, then gave him a toothless grin in return. “Nope,” the pegasus pony said giggling. “You want to know?” He grinned now, showing how much pleasure he derived from withholding the secret. “I’ll tell you after surgery. Won’t be long now, just keep being obedient and you keep your pet project. I wouldn’t want to Butt inn.”
Dawn recieved a pat on his head, as Charger continued. “I’m not unreasonable, and most Mice actually find me quite pleasant to work with. I’ll tell you when I know that you don’t pose a risk to my operation. Which would be when I wake up from surgery. Which reminds me. Let’s get it over with.”
The doctor sighed, and followed Charger out into the hallway. “As you wish,” the doctor yawned, and betrayed his tired condition. The cyber-pegasi looked back at him: Presenting a can of tin along with some rather well kept papers. “One of these should make up for the lack of preparation, and these papers should be detail enough to get you through my surgery.”
Dawn accepted the tin reluctantly and began looking at the drawing. True. Dawn felt bogged down by lack of sleep, and the recent running hadn’t done much to help restore. “Sacrebleu! Are these mintals?” Dawn looked visibly offended, and his hatred burned deep at the sight of the tin.
“Am I being handed the most addictive, slimy substance to ever grace Equestria by Charger, Captain of Friendship City?”
“No, not exactly captain anymore,” Charger’s repaired and rather effeminate voice sensually wrapped itself around the papers Dawn was trying to comprehend. “I’m quite done with Friendship City and those fools who founded it. Take the Mint-al. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Afraid of catching some kind of addiction from one pill? It’s not even “Party Time” flavoured. We could even make some coffee for you to drink it with, and gain some kind of double boost. Like Bandaid usually does before a major surgery.”
“That’s partly why I left,” Dawn replied still very much inspecting the fairly artistic drawings. There was a name in the bottom right corner written in the same elaborate handwriting describing how to do the surgery in steps. “Who is this Dastardly?”
“A pony. Stop stalling, and keep moving,” Chargers said while putting a hoof over the drawings. Disrupting any further reading. “Do I have to force you to eat that Mint-al? I like it when Mice struggle. Much more pleasant for me than it will be for you.”
Brown met Purple in a stare of wills, while Dawn reached out, and grabbed a Mint-al. Then he placed it on his outstretched tongue, and pulled it into his mouth. “Happy now?” Dawn asked, presenting his empty mouth to Charger.
The pegasus merely shook his head and they continued towards the operating room for Chargers surgery. Dawn made a coughing noise, and pulled out a bottle of water from his bags. Pretending to take a gulp out of the contents as he slipped the Mint-al back out.
Chargers blue hoof was there. Stalling the bottle from leaving his muzzle. Nearly locking him in a half-hug. “Oh, poor doctor. So thirsty he felt like drinking an entire bottle of water.” Chargers sensual voice and the surprise ambush had Dawn choking, before obediently swallowing.
“Don’t think of me as those backwater rats you scurried about with back in Friendship, or some trader whore you can easily trick.” Charger chuckled, and began squeezing Dawn as the last content’s of the bottle vanished down. “I am so much more,” He said while offering the doctor a few hard pats on the back. “You will see the extent of it as you open me up. Which is why I want you to have clarity. A small slip up can become quite bigger than the usual patients you venture around. Don’t take it personal.”
Wow, talk about persistent bastard.
Dawn rubbed his cheek feeling both embarrassment and a twinge of respect? Amusement? Surprised that there were ponies capable of seeing things more than one step at a time? Dawn had given Charger an easy time with that kind of poker face, and made it fairly obvious that he was going to resist eating the mint-al from the get-go.
Charger forcing him to eat a mint-al felt horrible, but Dawn couldn’t bring himself to be mad. Anger would just get in the way of thinking, and he could do a lot of thinking right now. Except Charger hadn’t said anything new to think considerably about.
It’s not like eating the mint-al had been Dawn’s fault, the pegasus had been quite insistent. To the point of forcing him to drink an entire bottle of water just to be sure he’d swallow. What did he expect from himself? It wasn’t as if his father or Wire would think any less of him for being force fed a single mint-al. Probably existed a lot of ponies who’d just try Mint-al’s out once.
The doctor opened the doors and entered. The operating room was dark, aside from a flickering lamp shedding light on some very familiar metal hands.
The butterfly tapestry however looked like it was more intact than outside. Even in this limited light Dawn could make out that Charger was fiddling with the coffee-machine.
Because of it’s closer proximity to administration this operating room, contained a built in circular balcony. Intended for ponies to sit and observe during surgery. Often he had dreamt of being a master surgeon with wonderous nurses and a steady audience. Students of the craft would travel miles just to on top of that balcony, and then marvel at his skill with the scalpel. Dawn had forgotten just exactly what kind of surgeon he had been in that particular fantasy. Brain perhaps, although his cutiemark suggested heart.
“So how come you get a medical pony like me to do the surgery if it’s a mechanical part that needs operating on?” Dawn looked back at the papers again.
“Because most mechanics would fail the initial part or get nerves along the way, and we figured most doctors had the skill to handle a screwdriver,” Charger replied as he activated a hot water talisman.
Dawn yawned, looking at the hot brown liquid pouring down into a can while making an educated guess as to who this partner we was.
Maybe it was this Dastardly that had drawn these instructions or was it that invisible mare called Blacklight?
“I told you. Answers will come after surgery, and remember to graft some skin over this metal when you’re done with the operation.” Charger flew up and was checking the base of the auto-doc. A green glow intruded upon the room for just a moment. “Well, the talisman looks fine,” the pegasi said while giving every auto-doc arm a firm shake. What followed was a small metallic choir. “Everything is in order for you to begin.”
Having studied the paper instructions twice now, Dawn managed to perform the entire surgery without any complications arising. The auto-doc responded sufficiently even if it hadn’t been used once since before the war.
Levitating down the medical syringe Dawn felt a dull headache settling in. There wasn’t much fuel left to keep the magic running for basic levitation.
He fumbled and pushed the needle back inside using his mouth. Charger needed at least a few more hours of sleep.
Drinking greedily from the hot coffee Dawn began reflecting and using simple logic.
While Scorch might be a hostage, if he did run off with Wire then they might consider saving her for later. They might even pay her to help track the two of them down. Scorch could have that effect on ponies, and Charger would be smart enough to see her as a tool rather than let his anger of some inevitable betrayal get the better of him.
Dawn gave out another yawn and began rubbing his eyes to try and stave it off for a few more moment’s. His mind was aching and the doctor felt worn out. Like a piece of rubber stretched thin.
Some of the coffee went into an available thermos for later, but it wouldn’t be enough. He needed a bigger boost, he needed to be awesome if only for a few more hours.
Wire felt a heat on his face despite how cold the rest of his body felt. A giant beam of sterile light made it hard to make out anything other than oily shadows, and his ears only picked up alien sounds. The thief squinted and felt an unfamilliar weight on his chest, a shadow was pulling at something except the pull fame from within.
Pain flared up, he tried screaming, and began to struggle against his bonds. He was trapped in some kind of harness and a gag muffled any attempted shrieking at this horrifying experience.
“Stop struggling and look at the light. While Doctor Dawn sets your ribs all-right.” A soothing, loud voice was singing in a happily forced tune. There was a grunt followed by a crack from one of his more reserved nightmares. No drugs or side effects could have produced that sound.
“When your awake and feeling sore. Doctor Dawn will give you some more.”
Another wave of pain wreaked trough Wire’s ruined body. He screamed for what felt like hours and still it wasn’t enough to drown out that stupid singing.
He struggled in the pain, but had no energy left. One of his hindlegs shifted a small amount, the strap loosened slightly. Using the adrenaline from another wave of pain, he jerked it hard. With each spasm his leg was closer to freedom.
Finally his battle was won and the leg was free.
The leg could hardly be used for anything besides kicking it around at random. He managed to knock over some sort of metal stand and grazing something covered in fur. His face was lifted up and Dawn stood near it.
“There, there. Poor thing. It’s not every day I get to mend this many bones and make you healthy again.” A purple glowing liquid bottle was pressed against his gag. “And now you must drink okay? Else you’ll drown.” The liquid began pouring into his mouth from the gag.
He fought the idea of drinking for as long as he could, until a hoof was pressed over his nose, cutting off his breathing. The fear of death loomed over him. Poison! Acid! Mind control serum! Ideas flashed though his head, but it was futile.
With tears in his eyes, the thief obediently swallowed.
“Good boy.” Dawn patted his cheeks and the world around him began to glow in a pinkish hue. He felt warm and tired, but he was better, and Dawn untied the gag to let him breathe fully. “See? That wasnt so bad was it?”
It was bad, it was one of the worst things he had gone though in recent memory. He was still tied down, so he couldn’t deck the smug pony. Thoughts of snapping his neck, or slitting his throat, or blowing his fore-hooves off were high on his to do list, but nothing was possible yet.
His body may have felt revived by the potion, but all his kicking and screaming left him drained, unable to even lift his neck to try and headbutt the doctor.
“What did you do to me?” He finally asked, trying to get the pony to release him from his bondage.
“You had a bad hindleg suffering from infection, and Blacklight messed you up rather nicely.” The doctor giggled in a cheery mood as he jumped down from the surgery table and drank from a yellow cup with butterflies on it.
You’ve gotta be fuckin kiddin me. He glanced at his one free hindleg, it was wrapped in clean white cloth, explaining why he was able to get it free, and why it hurt so bad now. He wasn’t sure what to say. Thank you was going to be very low on the list, he’d rather have just been given a shot of Med-X than suffer the hell he had just been released from.
Another thing that was beginning to unnerve him, Dawn, or Romeo, or Sobs McCryfilly, was acting far far to happy about any of this. Last time he was conscious the colt had been in tears, but now there wasn’t even a hint of sadness.
Yet no matter how big the smile or how happy a tune Dawn sang the thief somehow knew it was fake. Right now he just wanted some drugs and sleep. With luck he could forget this ever happened.
“Not yet.” Dawn withdrew the glowing lamp.
Finally Wire could see that his doctor had been wearing that blue spring dress from earlier. it was hidden underneath the standard white doctors uniform. It was an odd blend that didn’t make sense for anypony else.
“Well? What are you waiting for? Untie me and a dose of Med-X so I can sleep this nightmare off.” He demanded.
Dawn giggled and grinned. “The only way you get any stuff is if we make out.”
“I told you that bird brain wasn’t to be trusted.” Wire said. Unable to resist the urge of rubbing the truth at that spoiled doctors muzzle.
“And you were right.” Dawn simply acknowledged, as he brought fourth a small plastic cube of white powder. “This should get you on your feet.” The doctor held a content, almost drowsy look on his face as he awaited Wire’s response.
It wasn’t everyday somepony just fezzed up and said he was right. It was surprising, but that little box of drugs allowed him to push away any semblance of coherent thought. He went to reach out for it. Like a moth drawn to the light, every bit of Wire was now drawn to the little cube of wonders, sitting right in front of him.
“But we’re going to have to share the cube.” Dawn returned from having washed his hooves and opened the plastic to let the cube become a small white pyramid. Like a shovel he scooped it up with his tongue and walked up to Wire with a wicked grin on his face.
“The fuck are you on about now?” He recoiled back as far as the tie to the table would let him. He doesn’t... No, he can’t... Really, I uh... He tortures me, takes away my chems, leads me into a trap, gets me knocked silly, and now this? Wire was furious. All of this and now he was going to bribe him into degrading sexual favors. Wire may be an addict, he may be desperate, but he still had some Celestia damned self-respect.
The doctor simply put his tongue back inside and gave an even broader smile in return. Teasing Wire with a set of pursed lips and an overall expression that said. What? As if Wire’s reaction was the one out of place.
“You ain’t serious. You can’t be.” Wire tried laughing it away, a hollow laugh that fell on deaf ears.
The crimson pony gave a nod, bringing his muzzle down further “Oh. I’m serious alright.”
No. It’s just for the chems. You’ve done way worse for chems, right? No one gets killed if you kiss some crazy colt in a dress while in a scary hospital in the middle of the Manehatten ruins. These thoughts didn’t make him feel any better about the situation.
If only he could get some of that powder in him, he could just forget about the whole ordeal. The pain and the mental anguish would wash away.
“Any other way?” He eked out, trying to keep some of his dignity, not going for it the second he was given the opportunity.
As if on a signal the doctor made a swallowing motion.
“No! No! No wait! No!” His eyes were pin pricks. He needed those chems, no matter the cost, he would die without them. He closed his eyes, “Okay, okay, just hurry up.” He tried to hide his disgust as hard as he could,
“Aw. What happened to the face that saved me when I was shot? I guess you don’t want the drugs at all. Good for you.” The doctors sweet voice maliciously goaded him from the darkness.
Don’t play into his little game, you’re better than that. He wasn’t though, he opened his eyes to look at the colt. He swallowed his self respect, the half tablespoon that was left of it. “Please?”
The doctor stuck out his tongue, it was still coated slightly white, but the majority was obviously now absorbed in his(Ugh) spit.
Wire opened his own mouth, his attempt at a smile failed, he just wanted the drugs. The potion he was gifted was already starting to wear off, and he didn’t want the full force of the pain to hit his fragile mind.
The doctor’s muzzle was readily available with pursed lips, eagerly awaiting the kiss. Growing desperate Wire stole the kiss, and slit his tongue into the other mouth only to meet a row of clenched teeth. “Oh, come on!”
They obviously had different ideas on how this was going to be carried out.
“Well, then I guess you don’t want any drugs at all,” Dawn teased him.
Wire managed to hide his anger for a moment, “What then, what do you want?” His voice was shaky, his composure evaporating. His window to chem assisted relief closing quickly.
“For an addict you are surprisingly difficult.” Dawn chirped. “I simply want your body. You can have all the drugs you want, but you will give me your body in return.”
Wire was completely blindsided, “You uh, what?” There are some things you just don’t take at face value.
Dawn raised an eyebrow at Wire’s shocked expression but giggled all the same. “What don’t you understand? I’ll give you drugs, and in return you kiss me like you’d kiss any other mare. It’s not rocket science.”
Images of Wire being a prostitute to the red colt were immediately washed away in a small wave of relief.
Kiss him like I’d kiss any other mare. He wondered about this, it seamed to be too fair an exchange in his favor, unless the pony was looking for something more. He was about to put a lot of thinking into this when he realized that he couldn’t give two fucks about the doctor and his problems.
Med-X to pretend to kiss this colt. This’ll work until I can get my things back. He sighed, making his thoughts about Med-X and escape seam like he was deliberating over this tough decision, “I guess if that’s the only way, I can try.”
“Prove it.” The colt challenged him on the spot with a fierce glint in his eyes.
Hmm, should have seen that comin. If he squinted a bit and didn’t really think about it, the doctor could pass for a mare in the dress. That along with his talent of truth bending, would make this pretty simple.
It’s gonna be a stroll on the moon. Wire nodded for the doctor to get closer, and their muzzles clashed together. he teased the lips at first, and started out smooching with something that tasted of mint and orange. things got heated, Dawn let out an effeminate moan and then Wire stopped.
“Call it a, uhm. Sample.” The words left a bad taste in his mouth.
The doctor blushed, nodded, and fetched more powder for their game to continue. Wire’s restraint’s came off about midway and their intimate game continued. Wire felt warm, good and a familiar haze was covering his mind. Powder flowed freely, and the doctor sounded pleased with what he got out of it.
Okay, I got some in me I’m good. No need. Unless. He stretched out his forelegs, bones popping, ligaments going smooth, blood flowing, carrying the medicine though his body. One more hit will keep him off of me for a while.
“How much of that you have left?” He asked the doctor.
“Enough to last us for some time.” Dawn put a hoof on Wire’s cheeks and guided him back to his muzzle, the tongue awaiting him was covered in white and Wire wanted all of it. He licked, and sucked, swallowed and made out with Dawn until he knew what he needed had all gone his way. He even licked some drool off Dawn’s neck to seal the deal.
Another dose of sweet chem release washing over the thief. Wire felt happy. Who needed self respect and dignity? Now he could just humiliate himself for drugs.
A nagging voice at the back of his head told him to just run, use some of the tools to hobble the touchy feely pony, grab as much of the drugs as he could take and cash out. But Wire considered himself to be a good gambler. And the cards he’d been dealt seamed to point towards letting his winnings ride. I’m sure this wont come back to bite me in the flank later...
“You ready to go find the kids?” The crimson colt in front of Wire put on a more serious face while straightening the neckline on his blue dress.
“No, not a bit.” Wire’s body was far from amazing. His weapons and tools were gone, and he didn’t have a clue where to start looking for the two foals. “But I don’t have a choice here, do I?”
“Well, you could walk away.” Dawn laughed and patted him on the cheek. “Without your drugs, or gear naturally. Charger is going to kill you on sight once I vanish.”
The thief sighed in defeat. He obviously didn’t have much of a choice. “Where is he? How long we got?”
“I’m feeding him a constant stream of tranquiliser. He’ll be stuck in a limbo for a few days, unless somepony snaps him out of it.” Dawn nodded to a corner where the blue pegasus lay comfortably on a bed with an IV drip flowing into his veins.
“Let’s get going before that stealthy assassin decides to check up on us.”
Wire recalled that look on his attackers face when she’d sank the knife in his chest. There was also the part where he’d been thrown on the ground and beaten half dead. The villain was a single mare with a stealth-buck and she could be anywhere.
His eyes darted around the room, the stupid doctor would never know if she was right behind him. But, could Wire even tell if she was right behind him?
No, keep it together. She’s not here. You would have noticed the buzz. Or maybe. No! Focus.
“Yeah.” He chocked down his fears and eased down his breathing. Wire was scared of many things that inhabited the wasteland, it was the whole reason he snuck around and picked locks. You don’t run into monsters by sticking to the shadows. Raiders tend to know what doors are locked, so if you just open the door and lock it back up then you have a safe place to sleep. That mare on the other hoof could be anywhere, at any time, and it was impossible to dismiss her completely.
“What happened to Scorch?” He said after a few more moments of quiet paranoia. The mare was big, and might ward off an attack just from being with them.
“She’s not here.” Dawn scooted up a box of breakfast cereal from his bags and began chewing. “Here is something proper for eating on the go. I refilled my water too for later.”
Sugar bombs. Wire’s stomach did back flips at the very though of eating those disgusting sugary bits. “What do you mean by not here?” He rejected the box and said something about how he’d rather eat the cardboard than it’s contents.
“Oats then?” Dawn put the cereal away but his expression was that of utmost importance. “You need to eat after those kind of injuries. Maybe not now, but soon.”
“Scorch, why ain’t she here?” Wire was not happy with Dawn refusing to answer his questions.
Dawn simply laughed and began walking. “Because she isn’t.”
Wire sighed, There’s always something goin’ on. It looked like he would have to go along the doctors plan for the time being. It was still better than remaining with Charger and his watch dog.
Wire shuddered again at the memory. The malice he had felt from that mare’s eyes. He pushed the thoughts away and began walking. “Hey Dawn, slow down,” he called out.
His legs were wobbly and every step felt strange. Ugh, this is going to be one of those days... Wire thought as the doctor looked back with concern.
Dawn had already begun walking back to him. “I guess I should have given you braces after all.”
Wire grumbled, “I just need my pack.” He wasn’t putting any weight on his wrapped up hindleg, feeling like it might pop if he did. “And a brace might not uh, hurt, I guess.” Sadness welled up from within. He had never needed to use one of those things before. He really was Useless.
“Your stuff was taken.” Dawn was quick to fetch the brace and began untying the majority of bandage on Wire’s leg in favour of hard leather straps and metal. “Sorry, but id rather not linger. I just want my kids back.”
“And I’d like my stuff back. Not much use with none of my tools, am I?” Wire began putting some weight on his hind-leg, slowly at first, but the brace was working. He could barely feel any pain at all.
“I like the company.” Dawn giggled and patted him on his cutie-mark. “And we can always get you new tools later.”
Wire couldn’t get anywhere without the chem’s that Dawn was hoarding, but his pack was all that was left of his life. He wanted his trinkets and nick-knacks back. Some of them hurt to look at, but at least he could pull them out to recall happier times in periods of depression. Now he was truly alone.
“Fine,” Wire harshly batted the hoof lingering on his flank away. He would have liked to shove the doctor to the ground and demand help in finding his stuff, but right now he was small, weak and worse he felt old. What if he failed and Dawn took away his chems forever?
He couldn’t bear the thought of that. Instead he would do as told and hate every second of it. It was easier obey and get pushed around. If it failed he could always escape and blame himself later for getting it messed up.
He would be more than fine if he could just get a single injection of Med-X. Then everything would be fine.
The crimson colt was talking about things he could care less about while Wire thought back at the package delivery that had gotten him in this mess in the first place. The dumb little job that put him on the path to Friendship city.
“Listen, Wire. It’s a damn simple job. If you don’t want it, get the hell out of my buildin’.” Pony Express was an older stallion, and he pretty much towered above the thief. “You take this box to the mail room in Friendship City. No questions asked. Don’t open it. Hell, don’t even look at it for too long.”
Wire was far from a clean pony when it came to work, but the job stunk of set-up. Express however was one of the few legit businesses that would pay him half up front in chems. Honestly, that was the only reason he dealt with this kind of asshole.
“How many can I get for it?” Wire asked expectantly. His body had been without Med-X for a few days now, all his caps were gone, and supplies were down. He was willing to do just about anything for some of that sweet escape, even if that meant being jumped by raiders, or shot by the residents of Friendship for bringing in something bad.
“Well, you’ve done good work before. I’ll give you four. They’ll give you fifty caps when you drop it off. And Celestia dammit, if there’s a single fuckin scratch on the box, I’m takin it out of your hide! You hear me down there?”
“One time and you never let it go.” Wire grumbled. He wasn’t quite sure how a few bullet holes could ruin a package. “There any chance I can get five? You know, for old times sake?” Wire pleaded with the stallion.
“No you damn junkie. Keep this up and you’ll only be gettin three.”
“Okay.” Wire did not want to miss out on a single vial of that liquid paradise. “Give me the thing and I’ll head out now. I should reach Friendship in a day or two.”
Pony Express handed over the small box wrapped in several layers of dusty parchment. Wire placed it on top of his backpack. It fell into it with an empty clunk.
Next came the vials, and Wire used one right away. Express began yelling about something else, but once the syringe had been emptied Wire slipped out the front and legged it for Friendship..
A simple job.
Wire blinked a few times, his face felt soaking wet from being doused with water. Confused as ever he could see the ever present cloud cover blanketing the Manehatten sky. His ears were ringing and made the whole thing uncomfortable.
Wiping the water out of his eyes Wire felt better. Instead of the hospital the two of them were now sitting between a pair of old buildings.
Okay, I’m sittin in an alley now, Wire comforted himself as the ringing in his ears stopped. Instead he could focus on a lingering light headed sensation that remained.
The crimson colt was in front of him with a rather unsettling smile painted on his face while pouring water in a small bowl. It could only be oats.
“Say aaahm.” Dawn’s gentle spoon poked at his muzzle. The caring stallion was still wearing that blue dress, and had taken to grooming his mane again. Whatever good that would do.
“You had me worried for a second when you fainted there,” the doctor laughed.
Wire refused to say aaahm but he took a bite of the grey mush and swallowed some rather uncomfortable yet sugary lumps down.
Water, oats, crunched sugar bombs and something else he couldn’t put his hoof on, were being forced into his muzzle. Is he gonna force feed me? He was happy to see that the bowl the doctor had on the ground wasn’t very large, anymore and he would just throw the whole mess up.
“Feeling better now?” Dawn fetched another spoon touching Wire’s forehead.
“Stop.” He smacked away the hoof, “Yeah I feel better,” he admitted begrudgingly.
Dawn shook his head and looked at the thief. “You need food. I even put drugs in it.”
He should have been ecstatic, free drugs and all but there was no point to it. He wasn’t going to be able to convince the pony otherwise, so he just had to choke it down. “If you’re offerin, I’ll take it.”
The doctor presented to him the bowl. “Eat. It will give you some strength back, and then we need to go.”
He took the bowl from the hooves of the other pony, “Fine.” He looked at it for a few moments, not too happy with how it looked, for some reason a pile of brown was never that appetizing. He didn’t bother with the spoon, and stuck his muzzle into the food trying to choke it down as quickly and painlessly as possible.
He wasn’t sure what the pony had added, but it sure made his body swell with heat. Most of the constant pain he had been feeling slowly faded and lessened to a point where he could ignore it.
He felt healthy and young again, as if he could take on the world. Wire knew he couldn’t actually do that, but he’d be able to walk down a road with little difficulty.
He dropped the bowl to the ground and decided that he didn’t need the little globs at the bottom of the bowl.
“I ate it, you gonna quit houndin me now?” He growled and then flinched in surprise. Which made him even angrier.
“Hound you? You fainted, and the drugs wont keep you up forever. You’ll need nourishment to go with it silly.” Dawn scooped up the bowl and quickly rinsed it with some leftover water. “Do you want seconds? We have time.”
“Oh now we have time? Plenty of time to do whatever Doctor Do-good wants to do. I’m sick of it. Sick and fuckin tired of you. This fake smile, that dumb dress. I was perfectly fine before you and your help came along.” Wire dug a stained hoof into the material on the crimson bucks dress and left a smear.
“Wh-What?” Dawn jerked away and sounded hurt. “Fine? Would you call that rotten leg of yours fine? Given a few more days and you would have lost it.” He was quick to begin washing the stain away with a spare cloth. “Why are you dirtying my wonderful dress you meanie?”
“Am I some kind of charity case? A project for you to fix?” He dodged the other pony’s question, “Too bad I’m not some sick slave kid, then I would get the whole ten feet treatment.”
“Ten feet treatment? So I didn’t massage you every day,” Dawn giggled. “This is absurd.”
Wire wrestled with his desire to deck the laughing pony, he really really wanted to punch that smug look off his muzzle. Maybe break a few ribs, see how he likes to fix them without any painkillers.
“It’s okay Wire. You’re upset. I understand.” The crimson pony had removed the smudge Wire had caused. “The buck I put in your food to get you moving is making you angrier too.”
“No. You are the one making me angry.” He rose on his hindlegs and pushed Dawn backwards onto the ground. “I should have let you bleed out. Things would be so much better for me.”
“You don’t mean that,” the doctor pouted his lips and rubbed his chest. “I saw it on your face back then. It was more genuine than the rage you have flowing trough your veins now. You got beat up, and you’re in pain. I’ll make it go away, just be patient.”
“Maybe if you were a doctor instead of some idiot playing nurse!” He wanted to rip the dress off and burn it, the crimson pony wasn’t worthy of it’s soft pastel blue color.
“Ohohoho. Watch out Celestia. We have a badass here,” the doctor retorted in a sharp manner.
“Let me guess. You want hot chocolate in the mornings, and all the med-x in the world? Do you think medical knowledge comes easy? I am not just going to sit back and take it when you insult my work, and call me an idiot. At least direct the rage where it belongs. At Charger and his glow-pony.”
“If I hadn’t tried helping you find those foals this wouldn’t have happened. All you did the entire time was cry!” Wire wished he had just left the red pony to die in the hospital lobby. He wished he hadn’t read those foals a book. He wished he hadn’t given Dawn the stealthbucks, or tried to escape from the hospital.
“And all you do is complain and moan. This wouldn’t have happened if you’d let me take the Celestia damned foals with me to the hospital in the first place.” The doctor yawned involuntarily but forced the anger to resurface. “Show some compassion for Luna’s sake.”
“Bring em to the hospital?! So they could get killed? I’m sure Charger loves kids, and his invisibitch too. It would be one big party. And you could be the center of attention. Maybe you could call all your friends too! If you had any!”
“I don’t care about whatever Charger wanted. If the kids hadn’t been kidnapped we could just have pretended it was for Friendship City and gone our separate ways. Grow a brain you damned moron.”
“Fuck you. I bet those kids are happy they don’t have to hear you anymore.”
“They were taken by Slavers, or Raiders, or worse because they trusted us to come back for them. How can they be happy?” Dawn cringed and hid his face behind a set of front hooves. “I’ll find them,” he whimpered. “I’ll set things right again.”
Wire felt great. He’d made an emotionally fragile pony break down in an alley way. He was a strong pony, and he didn’t need any of these nagging doubts in the back of his head. Did he really even care about those dumb kids? The poor Innocent kids that had just been freed by a princess in a dress.
“Your mane is tangled really badly. It needs brushing, and I wanted to see if i could sneak up on you.” Four Leaf replied innocently. Still dangling from the brush. “Turns out I can, but now I’m stuck.” He heaved and used his powerful hind-legs on Wire’s cheeks, but all he did was drag the thief to the floor. “It’s not budging. Help.”
The filly jumped on Wire’ back as well but it was futile, the brush was stuck.
“Sorry,” They said in unison.
Fuck. It didn’t matter anymore, they were gone, and he couldn’t do anything.
“I won’t just leave them and not try.” the doctor sniffed and rubbed his nose on the white coat with pink butterflies on. “I can’t.”
“And what if they don’t want you back? And you’re left all alone?” He may have asked Dawn the question, but he knew it was pointed at himself. What will you do then Wire?
“And what if they are dead? If I let possibilities stop me, I’d still be in the hospital.” Dawn took a few steps forward and tried to embrace Wire. He was met with an extended forehoof and fell back in defeat.
“What are you tryin to do?”
“I wanted to hug you,” he muttered back.
Hug me? You gotta be kiddin. He had been having a throw down with him, and now the pony wanted a hug. His mind wasn’t even sure how to make the leap of logic that required this situation to exist.
“Why?” Either Dawn was crazy, or he was double crazy. He almost felt a pang of guilt for the pitiful thing he was looking at. He was too tired to yell anymore. His head hurt too much to be angry.
“Because I’m hurt, crashing from drugs I took to stay awake, and now I want comfort from somepony I fancy.” There was a faint blush and Dawn looked down. “I guess I could have asked first.”
Wire shook his head. Pieces of the puzzle that was Dawn fell into place. And he wasn’t liking the picture it was forming. “Listen, kid.-”
“Now that’s just damn cute,” A burly Unicorn was looking at them from the entrance. He had wrapped a rather crude and dinged up combat shotgun in an orange magical glow and was pointing it at Wire. “It’s what you get for shouting so the entire Wasteland can hear you. Though we are more interested in whats up in the place you two came from than the caps we will earn from selling you on the market later.”
Wire froze, all the big strong stallion stuff he had felt when yelling at an unarmed pony in a dress faded in an instant. Nothing sobers you up quicker than a twelve gauge to the face. He would have to rely on his amazing speech craft to get him out of this.
“I don’t have no idea what you’re talkin bout mister.” Wire feigned a smile at the pony. He couldn’t chance a look back at Dawn. Maybe the red pony would pull out a gun and shoot the shotgun waving pony and they could run. He wouldn’t bet on the odds though.
“Been tracking your movement since you left the hospital. Not that hard given that you fainted and your mare had to carry you. Or do I have to refresh your memory?” The stallion grinned, daring Wire to try something before more ponies popped up from the edges of the two buildings.
Not only were they trapped, but they were many and Wire had nothing to explode them all with. Taking just a quick glance the thief could tell that all of Orange pony’s so-called friends were armed.
Wire began retreating backwards slowly. Eventually he bumped into Dawn. The idiot had fallen to his haunches in some kind of shock. If I just had a smoke grenade. He glanced towards the intruders. “Now, there ain’t no need for all this now is there?”
“Nope. So long as you give me your saddle bags, we can all just get along nicely. We even have a set of necklaces for you to put on. The newest fashion.” Now that his friends were out and about the stallion took the time to grab a smoke and laugh at his little joke.
Dawn’s saddlebags hit the ground, and the crimson colt was unable to hide a very basic sense of fear as some of the ponies came closer with slave collars.
Just a simple shackle, with a small amount of plastic explosives above the neck bone. They never maim, or injure, it’s one hundred percent fatal. Wire held his breath as the clasp clicked and the collar beeped once.
Wire had seen the process before, and it never really left an impact on him. But now he was on the receiving end. The thief was at least grateful that the device couldn’t fit around his slimmer than average neck, if only he had a set of precision tools...
“Don’t mess with the loot. Javelin has dibs so wait with splitting til she gets back,” said the orange unicorn to the pony handling Dawn’s saddlebags. With a snarl of disappointment that pony pushed Dawn forward.
“Get a move on.”
Dawn gave Wire a mournful, defeated look while walking forward as commanded. The thief struggled to get his legs moving, and with each squeak from the braces a dull pain shook trough him.
Already now Wire knew he was going to get shit for it, but that wasn’t something he could fix. Instead he kept up pace with the red colt..
The walk went on and his mind came up with nothing. Something was wrong with his head. He hadn’t had any Med-X in as long as he could remember, and he was paying the price. His mind was gone. Replaced with whatever that stupid crimson pony had fed him.
The sad doctor looked old with wrinkles around his pathetic, sleep-deprived eyes. There was no light left in them, and that fake smile was gone. Wire tried smiling to cheer Dawn up, but there was no happy ending from here on out and they both knew it.
The doctor even looked away and ignored all his effort to make nice. It was all on him to fix this..
Wire looked towards the apparent leader of the slaver outfit. The orange pony was looking into the strange saddle bags they had stripped from Dawn.
Slavers were still ponies. Unlike raiders they could be reasonable, so a little conversation was worth a shot.
“So, where we headed?” Wire kept his tone gentle and conversational.
The slaver let out smoke from his cigarette and looked back at the thief. Boredom was practically written in his face. “Back to base. Then we wait for Javelin while we look at the hospital entrance for more ponies.”
“Why yall interested in the hospital all the sudden. I mean, it’s been there since the war.” Either they expect more ponies, or, Charger’s little display has em comin’ out of the steam-works.
“We tried once before but failed. Then the rangers came and opened it for us. Tried to take it from them. Wasn’t very pretty.”
He looked away from Wire, but quickly returned to look back. “And you Squeaky. How come a pony that isn’t with the rangers comes walking out of the hospital with his marefriend?”
Why did they keep thinking Dawn was a mare? Do these ponies not have mares in their base? It didn’t matter, maybe they’d take mercy on the two of them if they thought of them like this. “Well, we uh, we were salvaging supplies for Friendship.”
“Uhu,” the stallion stated in a very blank way and returned to keeping his eyes on the road.
The journey wasn’t that long. Pretty soon they were being herded into a building overlooking the hospital. Most windows were boarded shut, and a barrel filled with an overgrowth of smelly, glowing mushrooms represented the entrance to just another layer of grey and brown. “Welcome to Casa hotel. Feel free to go crazy while we decide what to do with you..”
Wire didn’t like the foreboding nature of that. He was a bit relived though, since a slaver operation couldn’t take place in such a small and easily accessible, and to a lesser extent escape-able place such as this old-world hotel.
The relatively large entourage of ponies that had escorted them so far dissipated to different areas of the building, a few going up the stairs and the others with the bigger guns sticking to the entrance, reliving other ponies that were keeping watch.
Smiles and sideways glances were levied at the blue dress wearing pony, who was still unresponsive. Wire assumed the doctor was stuck inside his own head, trying to block out the apparent world crushing fate that had encompassed the both of them.
Something in Wire’s head flicked on, gears began turning, and a few thoughts falling into place. From the surface of it, Dawn looked no more than a useless emotional mare. Not really good for any type of normal slave work.
Sure they could whore him out, but if they were to look under the dress it would be back to step one. The doctor was useless to them.
Wire himself wasn’t any better. His coat was stained with blood and grime from his injuries, his back leg was glued together by a brace. His stature was that of a malnourished runt. He was worth even less to any potential buyer. Maybe this was a way out? For the both of them.
“You aren’t considerin’ us two as merchandise, are you?” Wire asked the pony in charge. The pony shook his head in response.
“That’s probably where you end up though. Can’t let you go to Friendship and spoil our plans. For all we know you could be Rangers trying to report back to base.”
“You’re kiddin right? Us look like Rangers.” This might be the third dumbest thing he’s heard today.
“Just a theory we had. Can’t just let you go either way. Not until Javelin has had her sayso.” The stallion pulled out another smoke and lit it.
“I’m sure we aint worth your time, we could all just forget this mess and be on our ways. You look like a reasonable sort of stallion.” Wire pleaded with the pony, hoping he was a just dumb grunt.
“It’s because I am reasonable that we went over and captured you,” He uttered while pointing towards a room. “Just get in there. I’d rather keep things on this level and not let my bored friends have their ways with you both. I can assure you it won’t be pleasant.”
Wire gulped, knowing it wasn’t going to be fun and games if he kept trying his luck. He nodded, agreeing with the apparent leader, and took a look towards the room where they were going to be put.
He couldn’t see much inside, no lamp or light was turned on, but he did notice it was the only door in sight with a big heavy lock on it.
The thief reached out and bit into the fabric of the crimson pony’s dress and began to tug Dawn along with him. There was no telling what trouble the buck could get into in his state.
As soon as they were beyond the threshold of the door it slammed shut and several clicks emanated from the door frame. They were struck.
The room was sweltering hot and pitch black, but at least it didn’t smell of death. Wire began to feel around for a light in the room. Dawn’s horn lit up: Casting the room in a soft yellow glow.
“Thanks.” Wire attempt to make things right fell on deaf ears. No response came from the doctor. At least the silent treatment was better than hearing him cry about it.
Wire set about searching to room for anything useful. The room looked nothing more than a storage closet for whatever the building had been before the war.
There were sheets here that hadn’t been reduced to scrap, and an actual soft mattress was leaning against the wall. The thief noticed sagging cardboard boxes resting on shelves in the back. The glow from the unicorn wasn’t enough for him to sift though them, but at least from his place by the door.
Wire tugged at the hefty mattress until it slid horizontally across the floor, he placed a hoof on it and confirmed that the entire thing was in excellent condition. Maybe this’ll cheer up that prissy buck.
“Hey doc, there’s a uh, a bed to sit on over here. You can get off this dirty floor and maybe get some rest if you know what I mean?”
The doctor muttered a small thanks and laid down on the mattress. “The wasteland is full of shit.” The doctor yawned and the magical light dimmed.
Great, there goes my light. “Yeah, it sure is nice.” Wire sat down on the edge of the mattress. At least it was most likely safer with the slavers than with Charger and that invisible pony. “Things’ll work out. We’ll find those foals.”
“Maybe.” The doctor sounded exhausted and gave a tired moan as he rolled over on the makeshift bed. “I’m just tired, alone, and I feel horrible.”
“Well, it aint everyday you get captured by slavers, but look at the upside. You have your dress, I guess.” Wire took one of the sheets from the ground and pulled it towards the red pony. “Here.”
“Why?” Dawn hurriedly tugged the sheet Wire held out. A hurt sniffle rippled trough the air as the doctor laid down and grew silent.
Wire could imagine that the doctor had lead a very sheltered life or spent far too long inside the safe walls of Friendship. Dawn probably saw him as an amazing marvel of wasteland experience and because he’d saved Dawns life back there.
He regretted that outburst in the alley now, but it was for the best.
“Get some rest doc.” He extended a hoof to pat his head, “I’ll try and figur-” He let out a loud yelp as pain rippled trough his body and leaped from the mattress before he could comfort the sad pony.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” It felt like rebar had just pushed though his flank and now he was going to die. Bleeding out in a dark room with a depressed doctor. Wait.
Wire reached his head around and grabbed the foreign object; A sharp metal spring from the bed. He pulled it out in one motion and winced with hurt.
Using his hoof and mouth Wire began straightening the spring. The metal was sturdy and unwieldy, but Wire grit his teeth and pulled harder.
The thief laughed a bit at the sturdy tool he had made. The thief tried to spin his collar around around and tamper with his own collar, but a single beep came from the small explosive on the side.
Wire gave up on working his own, but the crimson colt snuggled under the covers was sleeping very hard. He sat behind the pony. Staring down the deadly device the thief began to psyche himself up. You got this, its one of the simplest bombs around. Signal flips a switch, bomb goes boom. A few wires is all. I can... I can...
Wire took a look at his shaking hooves in the darkness. he wasn’t good enough, not strong enough and Dawn might die if he tried.
There wasn’t any Med-X and he had nothing except wits to defuse the collar. It wouldn't be enough. He couldn’t. Instead he wrapped the piece of metal around his bleached fore-hoof. Nopony would find it unless they looked for it.
The bleached fur on his leading down to the hoof however might just make ponies curious enough. That bastard Dawn, ruining his good hooves.
He crawled into the bed but made sure to keep some distance between them. No need to give the doctor ideas.
Sad filly points +10
“Charged With Destruction” 1 Rank Prerequisites: PER 7 Repair 50 Explosives 65: “Smoke bomb, barrel bomb, dirty bomb... you name it, I can whip it up with a tin can, a bushel of corn and a few boxes of detergent. Molotov? He was a pussy. Here, try some of my jellied gasoline gas-bombs. Made the gasoline and shaved the aluminum myself!” Your zeal for explosives has lead to you become rather... creative with the bits and pieces that litter the wasteland. Homemade Explosives recipes unlocked.
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All credits for the setting go to Kkat, author of the original story Fallout Equestria published on Equestria Daily. Please support the sidefic authors that continue to explore her universe: Sidefic Googledoc.
Story is coauthored by Volk, Redundant and Damhoof.
Big hugs to DamnfoolBrony author of "Kiss Equestria Goodbye"