Do you ever set a schedule for yourself when writing things? I do.
I wanted to write this for quite a while, mainly to simply get it out of my head, but I would only let myself do it if I got a chapter done in my two current stories.
That took a while, work takes up a surprising amount of writing time...unfortunately.
So here it is: a small unedited part of the Fallout: Equestria fic I will never write. Part of one of the later chapters but I threw in background info so readers will not be completely lost.
At A Walking Pace
It was cloudy…
Well of course it was cloudy, why would it be anything else but that? Born and raised in a vault forced to look up at those annoying, whining, factory produced lights every day of his life, dreaming for the sunlight he’d read about in those old stories.
Dreaming of the perfect day when their Overmare would make that fateful announcement over the intercom.
“It is time to once again walk amongst the lands of Equestria!”
He would have been first in line, ready to see the world…the real world!
The actual experience had been…decidedly different from what he’d imagined.
Screaming…so many ponies screaming, all at him…
No, don’t think about that, focus on the sky…on those terrible clouds that had been the final blow needed to destroy his dream.
Oh they weren’t always so thick and gray of course, ever few days there would be a portion that thinned up slightly. If you didn’t focus your eyes you could almost pretend that the sun was shining right in your face.
He was never very good at pretending.
Sometimes he dreamed about flying above the clouds, flying so high that sun wouldn't be able to hide from him any more…
He looked back at his wings, or rather, the scrawny limbs covered with feathers he sometimes called wings. Surprisingly, the cramped metallic quarters of a Stable were not a proper place for flight training, the best he could ever hope from them was a short glide. Any further and things got…painful.
Goddesses he hated those clouds.
But at least they can distract me from…
“Hey, wake up,” a grisly voice, pitched somewhere between four growling dogs and a mountain of gravel. “You can’t keep losing yourself in the sky, it’s a big place, and one day I might not be able to bring you back.” His traveling companion jostled him against the wall he was leaning against. He didn't want to move, his leg hurt.
“What if getting lost is exactly what I want to do?” Why did that pony have to bring him back to reality? It was too hard to face right now.
“Then you will die and be forgotten, like so many others,” his friend was very blunt, as always. He wondered if all ghouls were like that, so numb from the many mutations caused from the fallout of the war that they simply no longer cared about being tactful. His companion’s mutation was rather brutal, with the skin rotted off the left side of his face, giving him a permanent half-smile. The ghoul called himself Fifth Summer, a fake name, something he knew mainly because the ghoul had admitted as much.
“The same name gets boring over the years, sometimes you just feel the need to grab a new one. Doubt I could even remember my original name…”
“Just like ‘them’ you mean?” Goddesses he could even see it now. He tried to push it away, but the memory refused to leave him.
Guns were firing over and over, one of them was his, and far too many belonged to the enemy. The noise was nearly deafening, but there was something still louder than that.
They crowded out everything, he couldn’t focus on the fight, couldn’t run for cover, couldn’t do anything!
“Yes, just like them. Do their deaths still weigh on your mind?” it had been three or four days since the…incident, and they had taken refuge in an abandoned shack they’d managed to stumble across.
He wondered what kind of place this shack had been before. Was it home away from home for some city pony? A hunting shack? Or maybe it had just been some really fancy doghouse…
In the end…it didn’t matter. Right now, it was a place to hide…to avoid things.
“Of course they do!” he hissed, refusing to move up off the ground. “Why wouldn’t they?”
“Do you know how many ponies die each day in this Wasteland?” Fifth moved past him to stare out the open doorway, keeping watch just in case. “It’s quite a few, I can assure you. What do a few more matter?”
“Because they didn’t die because of the Wasteland! They died because of me…” his voice fell. “Because I made a mistake…”
“Yes, you did,” Fifth jostled him again, a tone of annoyance edging in to his voice. “But I fail to see how sitting here, slowly eating through our supplies, is going to change that.”
“It certainly couldn’t make things any worse…” The only reason he was here now because of Fifth. “Why’d you have to save me?”
“I’m sorry?” Now Fifth was angry at him, something easily confirmed by the hoof slamming into his shoulder. “Would you have rather been left there? I could kill you right now if that would make you feel better.” He pulled away from Fifth, finally standing, his weakened leg wavering under his own body weight, and stared friend in the eyes.
“No, I didn’t mean that,” he said. “I just…couldn’t you have tried to save somebody else? Just one?”
He was lying on the ground, a stray bullet had torn through his leg. It didn't hurt, not yet at least.
Something was dragging him away from the melee. Looking up he saw Fifth leading him away from the battle. Alternating between firing twin shots from him battle saddle and dragging him away with his mouth.
"Go back!" he had shouted, completely hysterical. "We can still save them!"
The ghoul hadn't listened.
“I had limited ammo with only two guns, you were being rather useless, and everyone else was surrounded by enemies,” he shrugged. “Despite my age I am in no hurry to die.”
“The fact is…no matter how hard you try, how much strength you have, you cannot save everyone.”
He hated hearing that, hated every single thing he learned about the Equestrian Wasteland.
“So what am I supposed to do now? Just get up and move on?”
“That would be a start. Maybe you could move towards fixing your mistake,” Fifth sighed. “At least you know now to never make a mistake like that again. Every mistake can bring a lesson.”
“Have a lot of them, have you?” Fifth began to laugh, an awful gasping noise. When he’d first heard that noise he’d worried his friend was choking to death. To be honest, there was nothing cheerful about that sound.
“Don’t you remember? I’ve been around since before the Megaspells dropped…before the war even began,” Fifth’s gaze seemed to zone out, like it always did when he remembered to past. “A whole lifetime could be made from the mistakes I’ve made.”
“So how do you deal with them? How do you handle so many mistakes? How do you manage to ‘move on?’ To find the ‘lessons’ in them?” He couldn’t stop the questions from bursting out. He needed to know, needed to figure how he was meant to deal with those screams in his mind.
Fifth turned his gaze back to the open doorway, staying silent for a moment.
“I look outside,” he said simply.
“What?” how could that be the answer?
“Tell me, in that Stable of yours I assume they showed you images of Equestria before the war?”
“Of course,” they’d seen numerous films of what Equestria had been in order to learn about the outside world, to make sure they wouldn’t be helpless when the Stable doors finally opened. Of course those pictures had proven completely useless in the world he'd stepped into.
“Then just try to imagine the magnitude of mistakes needed to change what that world was into…this,” he waved a hoof at the deserted wasteland around them.
“But…wasn’t it the Zebras who sent the Megaspells at-“
“You don’t understand! We were pulled into a war, something we had never participated in before, so we tried anything we could to make it stop as quickly as possible. We made weapons that could incinerate dozens with a single pull of a trigger, we made spells that could vaporize a city in the blink of an eye, and yet none of It was enough…” Fifth stepped outside, stirring up the dirt and dust. “Finally the only choice left…for anyone, was to turn the world into…this.”
“So…how is that meant to help?”
‘”Because…the fact is, nothing you ever do, no mistake you could ever make, could truly make this world worse,” absentmindedly, Fifth pawed at the ground.
“As long you keep trying, you can eventually make a part of the world better.”
He limped outside next to Fifth, trying to picture the Equestrian Wasteland as it used to be, full of life and laughter, so free of the terrors so prevalent now.
He was never very good at pretending.
“So how much of this world have you made better?”
“Not nearly enough…”
There, no more whispers of possibilities in my mind.
In my early, early, drafts I was extremely tempted to name the ghoul Sunny.
But that was a little too much. In both the 'self-referential' and the 'just being mean to your characters' pools.
Sunny will get his happy ending...one day.
Here's some music from a my childhood-defining game.