You just lost it.
Anyway, Pinkie let me out the back of the warehouse (after I’d had some water of course, I was smegging thirsty) and it was only then that it actually hit me how long I’d been gone.
In dimension 33, the Combine had been draining the Earth’s oceans for whatever reason, and they were doing the same to Equestria. They’d had seventeen years for this jetty I’m standing on to not only be at least twenty feet above the level of the water, but also about a quarter of a mile away from it. Seriously, there’s a ship right there in the middle of the beach! That’ll totally ruin somepony’s tanning session.
Oh right, and there’s a dune buggy right in front of me and a giant magnet overhead, dangling off a crane. Plus a group of ponies fighting off these bug-like things which I presumed were the aforementioned antlions.
“You down there! You’re Hex, right?” said an obviously amplified female voice. I looked up and saw a unicorn mare sitting in the cab. I could make out a greyish-purple coat and a pale yellow mane, but not much else because it was pretty high up.
“Yeah, that’s me!” I gave her a wave. Damn, it really hurts when I shout that loud.
“Well, climb into the buggy and I’ll lower you down! Shouldn’t take a moment!”
Umm... okay. I wasn’t completely sure about this. Not because a giant magnet would mean me straining to keep my glasses on my face and I still wasn’t entirely used to my new and improved magical powers, but because giant magnets can and do fail, and I wouldn’t quite like falling and breaking my anything.
The seat was surprisingly comfy – it felt like it was stuffed with hair, which considering Equestria’s current situation was probably the case – yuck. The feeling of the wheel under my hooves and the weight of the freshly loaded ammo case on the back was incredibly reassuring, but what wasn’t reassuring was the fact that my stomach dropped into my hooves when the magnet gripped the metal running over my head and lifted me into the air. Seriously, I’ve never held onto anything as tightly as I held onto that steering wheel, and it didn’t help matters when the mare at the controls (What did Pinkie say her name was? Dinky? Pinkie and Dinky... dear sweet smeg on a bicycle) said “Oh, hang on; I’m having some trouble with the power.”
And I swear, less than half a second after she said that, the power of the magnet failed and I crashed, upside down, onto the beach and was almost instantly swarmed by antlions.
“Sorry!” yelled Dinky. “I guess I’ve got my mom’s clumsiness, I’m sorry!”
I gave her as cheery a wave as I dared and yelled “No worries!” which is my special way of saying “I’m never going to forgive you!” I nailed the nearest antlions with my shotgun, which would have been satisfying had I not wound up with brains in my hair and thorax splattered on my HEV suit.
This is gonna be tricky...
I climbed out of the buggy – hacking at the attacking bugs with my crowbar, which was clutched between my teeth due to the fact that I would need my horn free (not exactly easy) – and gave the buggy a quick burst of telekinesis which flipped it the right way up, before climbing in and hitting the gas.
You know what I said about the airboat earlier? Well, that comment can eat. My. ARSE! This was awesome! This was- this was so cool! I could fall out of this thing at any moment and that’s what made it so... I don’t think my heart has ever pumped so hard in my life – apart from, you know, every single time I see or think about or think about thinking about Twilight.
There’s got to be more ridges and bumps on this beach than an unwashed teenager’s face, and obviously they’ve got cars but not seatbelts in Equestria, but at least they have suspension so I can’t feel every bump, but it still feels like I’m riding a skateboard down a mountainside. And it’s fun as smeg! It’s the thrill of knowing you could fall out at any moment that makes this so exciting. It’s just... the antlion gore splattering against the windscreen free bonnet is rather off-putting. Other than that it’s the dodgem car most kids could only dream of.
Well, I think that’s enough faffing around on the beach. Time to hit the road!
Yes! This is what it feels like to be ALIVE!
“BORN TO BE WILD!!” There’s nopony out here to hear me, so that means I can sing and scream all I like! I’d like to see Amber tell me off for making a racket now!
I wonder how she’d cope in my situation. She’d probably be twice as far along as me by now, because she’s completely used to this sort of thing. I recall on the very same night she met Justin they were both imprisoned in a time-locked mountain fortress. Justin had been there for a full fifteen years, and hadn’t walked for all that time due to being chained to the wall, so when he got out he could hardly stand up without help.
From what she told me, he and Amber used the chain connecting their shackles through the wall to saw through the soft mortar and bust out. Did I mention the fortress contained a very large stock of artillery, live ammunition, weaponry and explosives? Maybe I should have, because she chucked a grenade into the works and became the very first person in the entire multiverse to single-handedly cut an entire mountain in half.
U mad, Mythbusters?
Yeah, they mad.
Seriously, I don’t think anyone – pony, human, humanoid or otherwise – could ever pull off something like that again. I mean, half a smegging mountain?! Smeg’s sake! You know, Amber actually told me that it was the single most awesome thing she had ever done in her entire life. And she’d had a LOT of life. How in smeg’s name am I supposed to compete with that? You tell me, ‘coz I would really like to know.
Yeah, yeah, I should get back to the story. It’s just that it seemed relevant at the time.
So I’m heading down the road, and there are several houses along the side of the highway which I know could have med kits and ammunition in them, but they also have pretty massive holes in the roofs and walls which indicate headcrab shells so... no. I won’t.
Plus, I encountered a few Overwatch pit stops, but I managed to clear them out (I won’t go into detail – this fic has a Teen rating and should be kept that way as much as possible) and picked up some health and ammo. I’m making this sound like a video game.
But that’s what it is! Half-Life was my favourite game when I lived in Australia. Could you imagine how a teenage boy with little-or-no social life would react when he found there was a way to enter his favourite computer game? It’s awesome! But then you find out that being in a world constantly under attack by alien douchebags isn’t as fun as the production companies make it out to be, especially when said alien douchebags appear to have only let the world be ruined because they lost the instruction manual or something.
Seriously, I don’t think the Combine know that I’m the One Free Stallion, so if something happens to me (which it hopefully wouldn’t) the Resistance could just as easily send some other guy in another hazard suit with another crowbar and call him the One Free Stallion in my place...
You’re right, that’s stupid. I’m being stupid.
Hullo, what’s this?
Looks kinda like a settlement or something. And there’s ponies running around – it kinda looks like they’re getting ready for something. I can feel the anticipation in the air... and that sounded like a line from a corny love song. You know, the ones about some bloke meeting a hot girl in a club and trying to chat her up? Those really smeg me off, because they’re really generic and unrealistic. So you fancy some girl you’ve never even met and you’re most likely never going to see her again in your whole life, so what? You can call me heartless if you like, but get the smeg over it, you pretentious... things!
Anyway, back to the point. Everypony was running around and grabbing weaponry – mostly guns, although I did see the odd bit of building here and there. There was a large house with a huge chunk missing from the roof set into a bank over there, and to the right there was a small sign that said “Little Flimflam”.
The smeg does that mean?
“Hey, Hex!” The speaker was a chubby looking grey stallion with a dark mane and tail and... a knife and fork for a cutie mark? How the smeg does a pony get a knife and fork cutie mark? What’s his special talent; eating? Holding stuff still and cutting it? I have no smegging idea... do you? Do you know how a pony is supposed to get a knife and fork for a cutie mark? Please, ‘coz I’d really like to know.
What? You don’t know?
“Better get down in the basement, quick!” he cried. “Gonna be gunships all over this place any second, and Mr Flim will be glad to see you made it.”
Um... right. Basement. Glad we got that sorted out.
When I went down there I found a small group of ponies listening to a... was that a unicorn or an Earth pony? He was very tall and thin, and his mane looked like bacon (or maybe toothpaste – I dunno) and it looked like he’d- he’d cut off his own horn?! I could tell by the way it had been cut, but then again, I hadn’t seen any unicorns in the Overwatch or CP: smeg knows what happens to them.
Back to the point: he was holding a rocket launcher (NICE) and describing it thus:
“This steerable rocket launcher is our best bet for taking down a gunship.” Then he saw me. “Oh, greetings! Be with you in a moment. Where was I... oh yes. Using the laser guide, you can steer your rocket around the gunship’s defences and prevent it from shooting down your rocket. Now bear in mind that this will only anger it at first, but if you can survive for long enough to make several direct hits then you shall be rewarded with a prize worthy of even the most regal mantelpiece. Now, who is to be the lucky one to carry it into combat?”
I raised my hoof to ask a question.
“Ah! Hex, I believe! I could not have asked for a finer volunteer.”
He handed me the rocket launcher. Naturally I was in awe – I mean come on, it’s a smegging RPG for crying out loud – but now it seemed I had to fight a gunship.
The ex-unicorn gave me a salute.
“The name’s Flim, at your service-”
He was stopped in mid-sentence by a siren which cut through the air like a hot knife through butter.
Somepony yelled “Gunship!” and I caught myself thinking ‘Really? I would never have guessed: I thought the dolphins were invading.’
“Damn!” Flim swore. “Allow me to send a warning to Lighthouse Point and I shall be right up to lend a hoof!”
As I was leaving, I caught sight of a photo frame on the wall, which showed that Flim bloke and another stallion who looked exactly like him save for the moustache and solid red mane.
This guy had a twin brother?
Right. Let’s get this party started.
I ran outside, picking up some rockets on the way, and up into the house with the missing roof/wall – it’d give me a clear shot while still providing cover, so it kinda made sense.
Here it comes!
I can never get my head around what the gunships are, exactly. They look like really big crabs – really, really big crabs which have been turned into cyborgs (if that’s the case then I don’t want to know what they’re shooting) but I felt one of them once and it was definitely fleshy. So what in smeg’s name are they? I’m not gonna start this again because you probably already have too much on your mind.
It started shooting at the ponies who were outside and firing at it with varying shotguns and SMGs, providing ample distraction for me to fire a rocket and guide it right into the gunship, knocking it off course.
Oh smeg, now it’s seen me!
I dived behind a door, and felt if being pounded over and over again by bullet after bullet after terrifying bullet. When it finally stopped I heard more gunfire, this time from the other Resistance ponies, and took another shot at the gunship.
And again, BULLSEYE!
And it’s seen me again. That door’s not gonna hold out, so I hid behind a section of wall, and again I felt the bullets slamming into it, but I also saw them hitting the floorboards in front of me and pounding them into Swiss cheese. Gonna have to jump that on the way out.
I stepped very carefully out of cover and took aim again.
Smeg! Missed. And that was my last rocket!
“Hey, take this ammo!”
I don’t know who that was, but I’m very thankful for their contribution. I grabbed the rockets, slammed one into the launcher, and took aim...
“YEAH!!!” I screamed so loud that I hurt my throat. “THAT’S HOW WE DO IT IN MELBOURNE, BITCH!!!!”
Wow, I could actually feel the extra punctuation in my voice. Still, better than zero punctuation, eh?
My heart was pounding and felt like it was in my mouth, and I was panting despite the fact that I’d hardly even moved besides sidestepping a bit and pulling a trigger. I guess adrenaline can do that to a pony. I wonder what effect it has on magic...
I’ll start an experiment as soon as this is over. Maybe I can even get Twilight in on it.
No, not in that way! Get those thoughts out of your head, you pervert!
I slung the rocket launcher across my back and left the ruined house to return to my buggy.
“Your reputation precedes you, Hex,” said that Flim bloke, “I shall send somepony to open the gate for you momentarily.”
“Thanks,” I said.
Yeah, I wasn’t feeling very talkative at that time. I got into the buggy and when a pony opened the gate I drove up the road and OH SMEG THERE’S ANOTHER GUNSHIP AND THE CLIFFSIDE HIGHWAY IS FULL OF BUSTED CARS SO I CAN’T OUTRUN IT.
Oh, wait, that van has a crate of rockets in the back for some reason. I climbed inside through a busted out window and crouched (hopefully) out of sight. The crowbar made quick work of the lock on the crate, so I took out a rocket, loaded my RPG and, once again, scored a bullseye.
This really was like playing Half Life 2. Except for the fact that I could die at any second, of course. Thank smeg it can’t tell where the rockets are coming from or I’m deader than a dead thing in Deadsville in the International Year of Death, when it’s feeling particularly dead.
Two more shots and it was history. I don’t really feel like going into detail right now. After I punted the busted cars off the highway and into the ocean – seeing as the world’s a dump now, I don’t think a few extra bits of rubble in a lowering ocean will make much difference – I climbed back into the buggy and headed off again. And I swear I hadn’t got one kilometre before I had to get out again.
You know what roller mines are? They’re little electrical things, about the size of soccer balls (It’s weird; every country calls that sport soccer except England, and those guys call it football because it’s... I dunno) and they roll about disrupting electrical things and hurting things. They’re rather annoying – not just because they’re clinging to the buggy – but because when you take care of one, chances are there’s two more behind you, bleeping and zapping and being generally, you know, annoying.
And the worst part is that they hide in the ground and you can’t see them until you’re almost on top of them, at which point they jump up and start being annoying in your face. They’re like electric footballs crossed with piranhas.
I ran into three at an Overwatch outpost where they had set up a force field across the road, which by the looks of things was drawing power from a van hidden behind a building. After taking out the soldiers, I punted the van off the side of the cliff and it slid into the sea, at which point I grabbed the Overwatch’s leftover ammo and hopped into the buggy.
Again, I’m going to fast forward a bit. I spent ages on that road, and honestly I don’t remember most of the trip, but I think my memory gets a lot clearer when I reached the rail bridge.
Yes, the rail bridge.
The Overwatch had a surprisingly well organised set-up: I would take out one soldier, and find myself being shot in the flank by another. Once they were taken out I pulled out my PFM, but the worst damage was a few bruises and some minor shock. Nothing too major.
One of the houses had a set of binoculars in a broken window – the kind you find at the seaside where you put a coin in and make out the markings on the yachts on the horizon. There was one major difference here: rather than a nice ocean view, I could see what looked like a major Resistance base. Maybe it was that Lighthouse Point that Flim guy had mentioned, because there was definitely a lighthouse. There were ponies everywhere, one or two were shoving dead antlions into the ocean, and I could swear I saw the G-Colt in one of the upstairs windows.
I looked up at the bridge. I could tell I would have to drive across it, but there was another force field across it, and by the looks of at least two more at intervals. I saw that the cables ran along the bridge and...
...across to the other side?
Okay Hex, stay calm, you can do this. Just keep your cool.
There was a pathway carved into the cliff side, with a door leading into the bridge. A little bit of careful navigation and I was facing the massive arrangement of steel girders which kept the railway from falling into the shallow sea below.
Okay, nothing to worry about. I got through Ravenholm, right? I can do this. I can do this!
Smeg, those things are steep...
Okay, I think I’ve got a grip now. My hoof squeaked and slid off when I put it down the first time, but I think I’m okay. Were it not for the HEV suit, I would probably have slipped and fallen to my doom.
You’re probably wondering “Why doesn’t he just take the walkway? Don’t all big bridges have them for maintenance and stuff?”
Well, there wasn’t one. There were pieces here and there, but nothing really big. The only worthwhile stretch of trustable walkway was about halfway up, and in order to get to it I’d have to step outside the confines of the girders and there’s Overwatch shooting at me now.
Hang on. Is that a crossbow? With a sniper scope?
Rather than bolts it looked like it used rods of steel, and when I loaded it something magical in the crossbow made them heat up until they were glowing red. I don’t know about you, but that is just... just so cool.
A few barnacles were hanging onto the underside of the bridge like evil lampshades, but I quickly took care of them – not with the crossbow though, because it can only hold five shots at a time. The entire bridge scene is too terrifying to relive completely, so I’ll skip to the part where I was on the other side. I came to a room where there were a couple of Overwatch guarding a generator for the shield. I was getting a little tired of these guys, so I telekinetically grabbed a can of paint and coloured them white.
Then I shot them and blew up the generator with a grenade.
When I got outside, there was another gunship waiting for me. Thankfully there were some spare rockets at the midpoint of the bridge, so it was easy to take down so long as I dodged from girder to girder, hiding from the bullets, and avoided being shaken off by the rumble of a train passing overhead.
When I finally got back to the other side of the bridge, I found that the walkway back to my buggy was blocked by a headcrab unicorn zombie. I put it out of its misery and charged back to the buggy whilst trying to avoid being shot by Overwatch. I couldn’t be bothered to shoot them all, so I drove past them and onto the bridge.
OH SMEG THERE’S A TRAIN COMING!
Okay, just concentrate...
I poured every droplet of energy I had into my horn, and struggled to levitate the buggy. Maybe if I did enough, I could lift it up and over the train.
Yes! Yes, it’s working! Oh smeg, it hurts, but it’s working!
Oh smeg, I just... I can’t keep this up.
The buggy fell with a crash onto the roof of the train. Instinct kicked in and I slammed a hoof down onto the accelerator. The speedo climbed to 100kmph, 125, 160...
And finally the train ended, and I shot off the end like a champagne cork.
Any more like this and I was going to fall asleep at the wheel.
But I had a job to do, and by smeg, I was going to bloody well do it.
Lighthouse Point couldn’t be too far away, could it?