Three wanderers sat around an open fire as they joked around. A hard day's walk straight from Stalliongrad straight through the 1-96 New Massachusetts free-way had understandably tuckered them out. After all, it was at least a seven kilometer walk just from New Pripyat to the Stalliongrad border, and from there they had to loop around New Salem just to avoid the irradiated zones. Behind them, on the cracked and aged roadwork, was a little radio, belting out old timey music.
"No way! I'm saying that Griffin army started the whole thing! I mean seriously! After the humans came down from space they got ants in their pants and ended up pressing the big red button!" Shouted one of the wanderers, lightly shoving his friend.
"Dude I'm still saying it was the humans. I mean did you see them when they first landed? Holy shit it was crazy! They came out and I swear it looked like something from one of those sci-fi novels or something. Honestly, it wouldn't surprise me if they were the ones who first started it. I mean, did you see the footage of the Tower of Friendship exploding? Took all of Canterlot with it." Replied the second one, a tan grey unicorn wearing a worn down Trilby to shield his eyes from the fierce daylight sun.
"Even then man, it was some crazy shit." Replied the first one, a odd maroon earth pony wearing a leather outfit. The two sat in silence from there, watching their third companion as he stared out into the wasteland that was once the city of Trottingham.
"Hey pops, what ya thinkin' bout?" Asked the grey one.
Their third companion, was an old chestnut brown earth pony with a greying mane and goatee. "Nothin' y'all should be concernin' yerselves with." He replied almost nonchalantly, adjusting his position overlooking the rubble that used to be Trottingham. He himself was sitting by the guardrails of the overpass, seemingly unaware of the drop and the dangers below.
"Nonsense, besides, if I'm gonna be here stuck listening to this idiot, might as well lend an ear to your troubles ey?" Replied the second, grinning as he received a scowl from his friend.
Just then, the radio lost the station's signal, the music all of a sudden fading out into white noise. "Dammit, that piece of junk acting up again?" Asked the grey unicorn, smacking the old radio once.
The earth pony chuckled as the two swore and fiddled, hopelessly trying to fix the radio. He himself took to staring at the sky.
"Hey! Gramps! Can ya lend a hoof?" Asked the maroon unicorn, eyeing his elder peevishly. For his part, the old earth pony sighed lightly, almost out of nostalgia.
"Aw leave that old thang alone boys. Ah'm feelin' in the speakin' mood right about naw." He started in his thick accent. The two fiddling with the radio exchanged cautious glances as they walked over, leaving the radio on the makeshift table as they trotted over.
"What is it old man?" Asked the maroon one, annoyance clear as day.
Just then, the radio fizzled back into life. The solitary notes of a banjo accompanied by what appeared to be a piano and violin.
Fearfully, the two jumped into each other's hooves as their elder guffawed.
"Ah guess y'all never heard 'bout the old legend of Spaceman Sam." He started, taking out a cigarette.
"Spaceman Sam?" Asked the youngest one, the grey unicorn. The earth pony merely gestured vaguely towards the moon. And as the two turned to observe, they couldn't help but nearly faint.
There, eclipsing most of the moon as it floated slowly through the air, was a human Astronaut's suit.
"It's said that on a clear night, if ya turn yer radio on and ya stay out late, y'all can catch Spaceman Sam as he flies through the air. 'Course ah didn't believe it when ah first heard it. But ah still remember the first time I saw'm." Said the old brown earth pony, reaching over and rummaging around in his duffel bag.
" I'd reckon this'd be a time for celebration?" He asked the two awestruck unicorns, still with their eyes on the Spaceman's silhouette. Smirking, the elder, joined them. The three sat in silence, watching the relic of a world gone by, float on by.
It was odd to say the least, he was floating a good two hundred or so meters in the air, seemingly with no help at all.
"Legend says he was the first volunteer for the Equestrian space program, supposedly the princesses got jealous when they found out that little old thing called "science" was far better than their magic. Yup. Funded a whole operation out near old Appeloosa, deep in the desert. Had to build barracks, labs, metal smelting factories, the whole shebang. 'Spposedly, after the first rocket got finished, there weren't any volunteers on the pony side. So ol' Sammy stepped up to the plate. He stepped right on in, already had his own space-suit on." The two younger unicorns turned to their elder, who was doing his best to suppress a chuckle.
"Yup, that old rocket never did get very high. Got shot down after the rocket accidentally went into Griffin Airpsace. Those old coots panicked and shot that think right outta the sky." He finished, finally pulling out a flask of whiskey.
"So lemme get this straight, you're saying that he's been up there for what, two hundred years?" Asked the maroon unicorn.
"Doesn't look very alive to me." Stated the grey unicorn, eyeing the lifeless figure who drifted slowly through the air. His arms were bent at the elbows, his left hand unclenched while his right was outstretched. The helmet obscuring all facial expressions. It might've been a robot for all they knew.
"So, what' the legend gramps?" Asked the grey unicorn. Taking another swig, his grandfather replied.
"Welp, legend says Sam's been helping towns avoid disasters. You two 'member the bandit on New Canterlot? 'Member hearing how there was nopony in town when it'd happened?" The two nodded.
"Welp, that's when ah first saw Sam." The old earth pony's face lit up as he relaxed against the railing.
"Wait a minute. You're saying that Sam appeared and what, warned you all?" Asked the maroon colt incredulously.
"Eeyup. Happened in the middle of the night. Ah was sittin' on mah pa's old roof, drinkin' some moonshine when I saw ol' Sammy saunterin' through the air. Next thing you know, Klaxon, the town crier's got everyone up n' outta bed. Wailing like an alarm." He took another swig of whisky. "I saw Sam move his hand, gestured to the West with a point of his finger. My mah got the idea to move everyone to East. Once we was far enough away, Pa sent lil Klaxon back to see if everythin' was alright." He paused for dramatic effect.
"Lo n' behold, the whole town got burned to the ground. Klaxon came crying back, and to this day, ah believe that there albino" he gestured with the hoof wrapped around the flask to Sam. "Is a saint."
The three sat in silence once more.
"Wait a minute, you said you could only see Sam on a clear cloudless night right? How's that make any sense? Wouldn't you also be able to see him in the day?" Asked the youngest of the three, the grey unicorn.
The eldest, gave him a wry smile. "And that there is why Sammy's a legend. Nobody's been able to track him, he just shows up randomly on any cloudless night." He took another swig.
"Wow! Check it out!" Shouted the middle aged of the three, the maroon colt as he pointed to Spaceman Sam.
Who in turn was pointing at the wreckage that was old Trottingham.
"Waddya think he means?" Asked the maroon unicorn, peering into the darkness. The old brown earth pony grimaced.
"Probably wants us to stay away. Ah got a bad feelin' bout that place." He grumbled, eyeing the darkness like an eagle would a fish.
The young grey unicorn yawned. "Well whatever it is, it can wait for tomorrow. 'Sides. The old freeway's invisible from the town. Whatever's down there can't see us, but we can see it." He said, crawling into his sleeping bag. The maroon colt stared at the darkness for just a little while longer, before succumbing to his basic animalistic urges. Yawning, he bid the old earth pony goodnight as he too crawled into his sleeping bag.
The old earth pony kept staring at the Spaceman, now all the way across the left side of the moon.
"Ya know? I never did get ta thank you for savin' me back then." He whispered in his gravelly voice.
Without saying a thing, Spaceman Sam turned, very slowly, and saluted him.
"Aye aye Sam. Happy trails to ya." He saluted back before nodding off into dreamland.
"Thank whoever's up there that we didn't head into Old Trottingham." Muttered the old brown unicorn as he looked through his binoculars at the scene below. The city was on fire, most likely opposing raiders duking it out for turf.
"Holy Celestia's mother....imagine if we'd gone down there first thing today. We'd have been smack dab in the middle of that battlefield." Whispered the maroon unicorn, eyes wide in awe as the booms of grenades and the clacks of gunfire resounded through the mid-morning air.
"Yup, that there's why ah believe in superstition. Every once in a while it's true." Said the old grey earth pony as he took one final swig of whiskey before pocketing the flask. "C'mon kiddos, best be gettin' while the gettin's good." He muttered, beginning his journey across the freeway. Soon enough, the maroon unicorn joined him.
Which left the grey unicorn gaping at the sky. "Wherever you are Sam. Whatever you're doing right now.....I just wanna say thanks." He muttered silently, screwing his eyes shut.
"C'mon kiddo! Before those damn hooligans catch up!" Shouted the brown pony, effectively drawing the grey unicorn out of his reverie as he ran to catch up with his brother and grandfather.