The more things change the more they stay the same. Ponies live, and ponies die, but the lust for power always finds a being to embrace.
Once, Equestria was ruled by peace, love, and respect, but these virtues were soon replaced by avarice, hostility, and suspicion. Gone are the days where you could go about your daily activities without worrying about a bullet to the head. The days where an early death was a tragedy and not a natural occurrence.
Over two hundred years ago, war ravaged the world. Trade embargoes between the Kingdom of Equestria and the Zebra Legions caused friction, leaking fuel onto the earth. With one spark, the world would be engulfed in a devastating flame.
That spark of aggression finally grew into the inferno of war. A war that lasted decades with neither side giving an inch. Heroes were born, heroes died, but in the end, their efforts amounted to little more than ash.
The world was plunged into a balefire holocaust of an intensity only rivaled by that of the sun; burning the lands and boiling the seas. What followed was a mass extermination of life, a wave of burning, necrotic hunger intent on leaving nothing but dust in its wake. However, the stubbornness of ponykind prevailed once more, scrounging in the dirt for the means of survival, scraping along existence like a snail crawling along a straight razor.
The Federation, settlements which had banded together from the remains of the territories to the far West, emerged as the epitome of this stubborn tenacity for life, creating a relentless government and spreading across the west with a disregard for those that would resist its desire for stability..
They eventually came upon the Ponave, one of the last remaining beacons of pony civilization, and tales of two untouched cities quickly made their way to the heart of the Federation, kick-starting its lust for power once more.
It has been five long years since the Federation fell upon the Ponave. They continued to exploit its people and leech its resources, unfazed by the riots, strikes, and calls for freedom and independence. After years of unsuccessful political action things finally got bloody...
Entire platoons of Federation troopers, upset with the way their government was treating the people of its new lands, split off and joined the independence movement known as ‘The Resistance’. As the movement gained more and more support, tensions rose once more, eventually exploding into a civil war.
The once peaceful lands of the Ponave have been brought to war unwillingly once more. First as it was annexed by Equestria, which caused the formation of the Coalition as it resolved to defend itself against the Zebra onslaught.
Now the Federation seeks to end the resistance movement of those that have taken on the mantle of Independence.
So it doesn't take much to see that the problems of two little ponies don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.
The problems of Shamrock and I.
I woke to the sound of unintelligible shouts and cries of pain. I slowly opened my eyes, but my vision was just as incoherent as my hearing, showing me nothing but a glowing orange speck in a dim miasma.
The shouts grew ever louder and clearer, while they were still garbled I could hear the hostility seething within each syllable. A set of blue hooves materialized out of the murk beside me, each wrapped in a band of sharp, metal spikes.
I tried to force myself to my hooves but could only manage to flop around like a fish as I realised my hooves tightly bound together by abrasive lengths of rope. I rolled onto my back and found myself locking eyes with a deranged mare. Her dark green mane was tangled in filthy knots as it fell over her shiny black armor. She twitched as her pupils shrank to pin pricks in her yellow eyes. A psychotic grin twitched across her face as a fit of maniacal giggling overtook her.
I managed to choke out a short shout of terror before trying to roll away, only to fall snout first into a shallow pit. I blinked to try and get the stinging dirt out of my eyes before I was yanked back up by my mane.
“Owowowowowow!” I howled as the blue mare violently dragged me back to my original resting place.
"Not so fast," the crazed mare chuckled, dropping me and spitting out chunk of my mane. "You'll be down there soon enough."
I opened my tear-filled eyes and looked down. I had fallen into a shallow grave. My grave.
“You're trying my patience!” I looked up to see a light green stallion in a fine black suit and fedora standing in front of an orange pony, tied to a large dead tree. The suited unicorn pressed a small white chip wrapped in a field of red magic against Shamrock's swollen eye. “Tell me what this does, or you're a dead pony.”
“Fine!” my brother coughed, sending tendrils of blood down his orange chest as he hung limp. “That chip...that chip...” he coughed up more blood before raising his head, “Holds the secrets to grandma's secret pie recipe.” He tried to laugh, but quickly degenerated into a bloody coughing fit.
“Shamrock!” I cried out to my brutalised, older brother, tears falling from my cheeks into the dirt below. I could feel my scalp tear as the blue mare yanked me back up, cackling madly. A drop of blood ran down my neck as I was thrown, head first, to the dirt beside the grave. I landed with a dull thud as my skull impacted with the tightly packed earth. I tried desperately to flop away from the psychotic ponies, but my face was ground into the dirt as the mare stomped on the back of my head, keeping her hoof firmly against it.
“Why?” I sobbed as I looked up at her psychotic grin.
“Hey!” Shamrock shouted, “Let my little brother go! He has nothing to do with this!” He started to wriggle beneath the ropes, trying to chew through them with renewed vigor.
The suited pony turned to me and grinned around a gold-rimmed cigarette. “He doesn't have anything to do with this, eh?” he chuckled. “Tell me, kid. Do you like seeing your older brother beaten and broken like this?”
The mare lifted her hoof a little, just enough for me to raise my head, “N-no,” I sobbed. The mare stomped on my head again, forcing my snout back into the dirt.
“Well then, you'd best tell me what the chip does, or...” He levitated out an impressive, ivory gripped, beautifully engraved pistol and smiled at it. “...capiche?”
“I don't know!” I cried through the dirt, clenching my eyes closed. I couldn't believe this was happening, we’d only been out here for a day. I desperately wished that when I opened my eyes everything would be back to normal and I would wake up at home in bed.
“He doesn't know anything about the chip!” Shamrock yelled at the suited unicorn, spluttering blood into the air.
The green stallion sighed and turned back to Shamrock. I breathed a sigh of relief as he holstered his pistol.
“Last chance,” he growled. “Tell me what this chip does.”
Shamrock narrowed his good eye, peering out from under his dark green mane. “Suck...my...dick,” he growled.
“Don't be an idiot!” I yelled. “Just tell him!” The mare shoved my face into the dirt even harder. Tears were starting to pool in the dirt around my face. Only one thought rushed though my head: 'this can't be happening, this can't be happening, this can't be happening...'
The suited pony grinned before levitating his cigarette and plunging it deep into Shamrock's good eye. Shamrock roared in pain as smoke hissed from the burn. The green unicorn turned and bucked Shamrock in the face, bouncing his skull against the tree with a sickening crunch. My brother’s head slumped forward as shards of teeth fell from his mouth. He was breathing heavily as he defiantly rose his head, now blind to the world around him.
By this point I was bawling. I was a pathetic excuse for a stallion but, damn it, my brother was getting beaten within an inch of his life right before my eyes.
“Clover?” he wheezed.
The suited buck sighed and shook his head. “This is just a waste of time.” He levitated his gun to Shamrock's head. “I'll just have to find out what this chip does myself.”
“Stay strong, buddy,” Shamrock wheezed with a sad smiled, “I'll tell dad you said ‘hello’.”
“No!” I screamed.
The suited pony's magic tightened on the trigger.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl as I watched the bullet penetrate my brother's skull, and burst out the other side in a red plume of blood.
I burst into tears, floundering in a fit of anger and sorrow. The mare stood on my back to keep me still as I flailed and cursed. He killed him! He killed my brother! ...and there was nothing I could have done to stop him.
I gave up and just lay there, staring at my dead brother through tear soaked eyes. They killed my brother and I was next. The murderous bastard started to trot towards me, lighting a fresh cigarette. The mare dragged me back up to face her boss.
“Why? Why did you do this?” I sobbed, ignoring the pain of my scalp tearing in the psycho mare's teeth. “Who are you?”
“Me?” the green stallion chuckled, taking a long drag on his cigarette. “My name is Double Down.” He blew the offensive smoke into my face, stinging my eyes. “As to why your brother met an early end,” I gave a mournful hiccup, “he refused to give me the chip, then refused to tell me what it does.”
“That's not fair!” I yelled, “You can't just steal a pony's things and kill him!”
Double Down chuckled as he nodded to the mare. She dropped me at the edge of the hole and sat me up.
“Nothing in life is fair, kid.” he picked up a shovel in his levitation field. I sniffed up a long trail of snot and blood.
“I want my mummy,” I sobbed.
“Welcome to the desert. Where the bad live good and the good...” He grinned at me, his sly features starting to fade as the sun crested the horizon behind him, casting long shadows of cacti and shrubs across the lonesome prairie. “well, they don’t live at all.”
I heard a wet crack as the shovel slammed against the back of my head, sending me tumbling into the grave. I landed on my back and looked up, the edges of my vision blackening. The last thing I saw was the mare's face, grinning and laughing as she started to bury me.
“I...I don't wanna die...”