Fallout Equestria: Rolling Bones
The cotton bandage parted for the blades of the scissors with ease. They held onto the leg, stuck to the dried blood and pus. The stench of infection and decay almost made me gag as I began to peel the bandage off. Patches of fur and skin came off with the bandage, causing the wound to start leaking. Great.
Dabbing the fluids with a gauze pad I tried to examine the seriously infected wound. The blue stallions hissed, “How bad is it?”
I grunted, turning to the table behind me and picking up a bit. I held it in front of his muzzle. “You’re gonna wanna to bite this.”
The stallion nodded before biting down on the small cotton wrapped stick. I took a moment to consider my option. What was once little more than a two inch long knife cut was now infected and ringed by necrotic tissue. Short answer, it needed to be cut out. The biggest problem was honestly for me. I did not like using Med-X, at all. This was one of the times that I didn’t have much choice.
Grabbing the auto-injector in a wing I held it just above the wound, “You will feel a small pinch.”
The needle went in and the dose fired into his bloodstream. I watched for a moment until the buck’s face relaxed. I used the spent needle to poke the frog under his hoof in order to make sure that the drug had taken effect. Satisfied, I dropped the empty syringe into the wastebasket. Using a leather thong I tied off the limb a few inches above the lesion. Time to get to work.
Someponies are under the impression that a healing potion was a miracle cure-all, they’re all idiots. Healing potions close wounds, that’s all. Anything inside the wound stays inside the wound: Bullets, blades, dirt, sand, and most importantly, infections. If the wound wasn’t properly cleaned first it could easily cause more problems than it solved.
With the scalpel held steady between my pinios, I began to cut. The blade entered the clean tissue as close to the necrotic flesh as I could reliably get. I glanced up at the stallion. His head lolled from side to side, a grin splitting his face. This was another reason I didn’t like Med-X, couldn’t tell if the numbness was from the drug or dead nerves.
It was slow, bloody, work. The amazingly sharp blade sliced through the flesh with ease. I was always fascinated with the way skin parted and for a brief moment the blood held off, displaying the texture and flowing lines of the meat beneath the skin.
Carefully maneuvering the scalpel I began to cut around the dead tissue. With painstaking care I began to actually remove the infected area. The bucks jaw clenched, biting into the bit. I noticed tears forming in the corners of the bucks eyes each time I cut a little deeper than the infection went.
Finishing, I took a moment to admire my work. The cuts were clean-ish, and I felt confident that I had removed all of the harmful tissue. Placing the scalpel in the tray with the discarded pulp I retrieved the small bottle of alcohol. With the leg held up and a thick wad of cloth under the wound I slowly poured the cleansing liquid into the gash. Blood and alcohol flowed into the cloth, tinting it a horrid pink.
Dabbing away the blood I realized that I had taken out too much to have a chance of sewing the wound together, my prefered treatment. I fished inside the medical supply box and pulled out a healing potion. “I’m giving you this,” I said, displaying the bottle, “only because I don’t trust you do keep your damn leg clean for a day, much less a week.”
The idiot didn’t respond, too doped up on Med-X. I wanted to smack him, but that’s not what Watchers do. No, Watchers heal idiots enough so that they can go back out and get themselves hurt again; secure in the knowledge that there is a group of ponies who are stupid enough to stitch them back together.
I popped the seal and poured the magical liquid over the open wound. I had to look away as the flesh quickly began to knit itself back together, filling in the bits of flesh I had cut out. Healing potions, wonderful things, save lots of lives, creeped me the Tar out.
With my patient out for at least the next hour I decided to go about cleaning up. The tin with the bloody gore got dumped into the wastebasket along with all the used bandages. The scalpel got wiped off and dropped into the used equipment bin for a thorough cleaning.
Turning around to make sure that everything was put away for the day; I caught a look at my flank in the full size mirror.
“It’ll come when it comes.”
My ears quivered, unable to decide if they wanted to droop or perk up. “Hello, Nurse.”
I didn’t need to see her face to know she was smiling, “I see you decided to forego the needle and thread.”
“Not by choice.” I said, looking at the pink skin surrounded by blue fur.
I felt the warmth of her as she stepped up next to me. “I still don’t understand what you have against them.”
“And I don’t understand why every pony relies on them so readily.” I put a hoof to my forehead, “Don’t you ever feel like it’s a waste of time? Like were just prolonging the inevitable? If he’s not back in a week I’ll give you my allowance for the month.”
Nurse Grays’ lips curled into a small smile as she hooked a foreleg around my shoulders, “Oh, Lucky, that is what we’re doing. Until somepony finds a better way it’s all we can do.” She leaned her head against my neck, “And I thought you hated gambling.”
I grunted in response and poked the pony on the slab with a hoof. “Now I have to sit here and wait for him to wake up.”
“No,” she said, stepping over to sit in the corner. “I do, you have a class with Tracker.”
“Aw, crap. I totally forgot.” Almost jumping to the exit I pulled up short just inside. “Uh, thanks Nurse. I owe you.”
I ducked through the tent flap about to take off and fly to the back of the compound. That is, until a yellow blur jumped out of nowhere to tackle me. I fell over, caught completely unprepared and off balance. Aloe was on top of me in an instant. Her hooves moved along my exposed ribs.
Giggling uncontrollably, I fought back. One of the best things about being a pegasus were the extra limbs.
“Sssstooopppp. Hehehe. I ca- I can’t breath!”
“Ha ha. I am victorious!” I intoned in the deepest voice I could muster as I jumped back balancing on my hindlegs.
“Y- you cheated. Wh-wings are cheating.” she complained, still trying to catch her breath.
“All's fair in a tickle fight,” I said, sticking out my tongue.
“Will you two stop it, you’re giving me a headache.” Hurdles said in a voice far deeper than mine. “Come on, it’s time for our class with Tracker.”
I flew up and landed on Hurdles back, “Forward, trusty steed.”
He turned his head and eyed me. I smiled back and tapped my hooves on his shoulders. That lasted for all of a second before he kicked up his hindlegs, bucking me into the air. I caught myself and hovered a pony’s height above him. Before I could say anything Aloe leapt onto his back and wrapped him in her legs, giggling. Hurdles legs tensed as he prepared to try and throw her off too. It took all of a second for his ears to droop in submission of to the filly clinging to his back.
I landed next to my friends, turning my head up and to the side. “I see how it is,” I said haughtily. Sticking my nose higher into the air I pranced away from the pair. Hurdles groaned before cantering to catch up.
“Race?” the big red pony asked, pulling up beside me.
I looked back at the yellow filly still resting on his back. “You don’t stand a chance.”
“Works for me. On three. One. Twothree!” I kicked up clods of dirt as I took off, leaving Hurdles slightly stunned.
My hooves hit a steady four beat as I galloped between the tents. Trackers camp was in the back of the compound, away from the rest of the Watchers. The medical tents were all located right at the gates. It was a good quarter mile between the two as I fly. Unfortunately I wasn’t flying. I cursed under my rising pant. The heavy pounding of the other pony’s hooves sounded behind me, quickly gaining ground.
I could hear Hurdles heavy panting as he closed the distance I had bought. The rhythm of hooves was intoxicating, soothing, and exciting all at the same time. Hitting at counter points our beat was continuous. The moment I left the ground he hit. The moment I hit he took off. The tight spaces between the tents were the only reason that he hadn’t overtaken me.
I exploded into one of the small gathering areas devoid of tents. Curving around the fire pit in the center I noticed Hurdles counter beat disappearing. A quick glance to the side showed his blue/white tail sliding out of sight between tents. I smiled and poured on the speed, barreling down the clear path. It was over now, he wasn’t even heading in the right direction. Tents and ponies flashed by in a blur. Jumping over obstacles and turning down paths I sped to the back of the compound.
I turned the last corner and tripped over my own hooves. Breathing hard, head hanging low, and standing on slightly wobbly legs, the big red stallion managed to smirk. The ground rewarded my temporary distraction with a surprise meeting. My rump continued to move forward at good clip as my face and barrel hit the ground. I rolled a few times before I skid to a stop and finally lost momentum.
My eyes fluttered open. They slowly moved up the thick red post planted on the ground in front of me. The image of a white jump fence printed on red fur brought them to a stop. I groaned and fell to my side. “Maybe next time I’ll let you use your wings,” he said, the smirk evident in his voice.
“Are you okay, Lucky?” Aloe asked, poking me with a hoof.
I shooed her away with a wing, “Yeah... I just... need to... catch... my breath.”
“Come on buddy.” Hurdles said, helping me get to my hooves and graciously letting me lean on him as we moved to Trackers tent.
The small blue tent stood separate from the rest by three good pony lengths. I put a wing to Hurdles chest when we stepped into the opening, bringing him to a stop. With my other wing on my lips I began to step lightly towards the lone tent. Hurdles and Aloe stayed back, undoubtedly rolling their eyes.
I stepped lightly across the open ground, my hooves rolling slightly to help reduce their impact. Each step was careful and deliberate. My breathe was slow and controlled, in through my nose out through my mouth. The last paces brought me within hoof’s reach of the opening. I held my breath as I prepared to push open the flap. “Fer a pegasus yer noiser’n a cat in heat.”
“Hush, Tracker, I’m tryin’ to sneak... up... on... Uhg.”
A fleshy hoof pushed into my cheek, “Don’ fret it colt, you’re gettin’ better.” The mushy pony looked over his shoulder, “Come on ya’ll, yer late and this lesson’s gonna take awal.”
I didn’t move as the old ghoul trotted around to the other side of the tent. Aloe and Hurdles snickered as they passed me. When they stepped around the corner I finally sighed and moved to follow them.
I turned the corner. The loose flesh around Trackers lips was pulled tight as he watched my two friends. Hurdles and Aloe were both wearing disgusted frowns. My eyes followed their gaze to a pair of corpse hanging off to the side.
Hanging by hindlegs their purple scales shimmered in the combined light of the sun and fire. Saliva dripped from the yellow teeth of their gaping maws. A bottle cap sized black mark was visible just between their eyes. My gaze immediately flicked over to the fire and the iron pot hanging from the spit being licked by the flames of the flames.
"Uh... You do know that we’re vegetarians... Right?”
Tracker sighed, “Y’are what ya have ta be ta survive, colt. When ya ain’t eaten for a week you’ll learn jus’ how far yer willin’ ta go fer a meal.” He motioned to the prone lizards, “When push come ta shove, is not whether it could walk that’ll bother ya. Now, y’all ready to get started?”
“You want us to... cook,” Aloes noise scrunched in disgust, “these... things?”
“Tha’s right darlin’: Skin, clean, gut, cook, an’ anythin’ else ah can come up with.”
The normally bright yellow of her face softened to a cream, “I... I think I’ll let the boy’s take care of this one.”
“Hah, why do ya think ther’s only two? Well, come on colts, let’s git to it.”
Tracker hoofed out the tools we’d be using for todays lesson. A heavy combat knife. I kept my complaints about proper equipment to myself. This was the one thing that he was truly serious about and complaining wouldn’t do me any good.
Hurdles and I stepped up to a geckos with blades in hoof. This wasn’t the first time he had had us skin and prep an animal. It was usually one of the large rats that inhabited the sewers of Dise, though. I made the assumption that at least the skinning would work basically the same.
The first words out of Trackers mouth confirmed my theory and I immediately went to work. Starting at the feet I carefully cut until I hit muscle. The knife was sharp enough to make easy work of the scales and now that I knew how deep to make the cuts I sped through the rest of the procedure. Cutting around the front claws for the sleeves. Starting at the tip of the tail I made a nice straight line down it’s belly to the tip of it’s jaw.
Stepping around to the other side I cradled it’s head in a wing and held it up for inspection. The black mark turned out to be a perfectly round hole that went at least an inch into its head. It had cauterised instantly, the flesh around the wound bubbling slightly from the intense heat. I smiled at the familiar wound; Tracker was going to show me how to use that thing whether he wanted to or not.
My knife went to work cutting around the eyes and the fins along the sides of its head. Moving back to the tail I began peeling the hide away from the fat and muscle underneath. Once I had a good two inches I dropped the blade and took hold of the flap. The skin tore from the creature, the tissue between ripping with surprising ease. The hide peeled off, turning inside out as I pulled, until the last bit separated and fell to the floor leaving the geckos musculature completely exposed to the world.
I looked over at Hurdles as he began pulling the skin off his gecko. His cuts were not nearly as straight. Nore done properly, apparently. I shook my head and smirked as the hide ripped. This was going to be a long day.
Something poked me. I grunted and rolled away. It poked me again. I grunted again and buried myself deeper into my pillow. There were hushed whispers, then blessed quiet. I shifted slightly and began to drift back into my dream.
“Ouch! What the hay was that for?” I cradled the back of my head as I rolled on the floor.
“Don’t you know what day it is?” Aloe shouted bouncing up and down.
“Uhg,” I buried my head under my hooves.
“No, silly, it’s not ‘Uhg’ day. It’s my birthday!”
“Yay,” I said, twirling a hoof in the air. “Happy birthday to Aloe. Can I go back to sleep now?”
“Eenope.” I felt teeth bite onto the scruff of my neck and lift me off the ground.
My hooves dragged across the ground as I was carried out of my tent. A few feet later I was deposited back on the ground, now under the night sky. I rolled onto my back and finally opened my eyes, for all the good it did. I blinked up at my friends standing above me.
“Uh, guys... it’s like midnight...” Aloe’s head bobbed violently in response, “This couldn’t wait for, oh I don’t know, sunrise?”
“Come on Luckiiieeee. It’s my birthday. And you two are taking me out to the casinos! Aren’t you excited?” she asked, her face dropping into ‘The Look’. ‘The Look’, where her eyes got really big, her ears drooped down, and her bottom lip began to tremble ever so slightly. I don’t know where she learned it, but no pony with a soul could say no to it.
“Okay. Okay. Fine,” I sighed, “Just let me get my- Oof!” a set of saddlebags dropped on my stomach. “Thanks big guy, you’re a real pal.”
“Wouldn’t want ya to accidentally forget your caps,” said Hurdles.
“Yes, that’d be just awful, wouldn’t it.” I said, rolling to my hooves. “Celestia forbid I manage to save a few caps this month.”
“Oh, don’t be like that. Who knows, you may win it big tonight,” Hurdles said, a smirk barely visible in the darkness, “You are *snrk* Lucky after all.”
I sighed and laid a foreleg across his shoulder, “Why don’t you leave the puns to me tonight buddy. We wouldn’t want you to trip over yourself.” I waited for a few seconds. Then a few more. I thought I heard a chirp in the distance, but that was probably my imagination. “You don’t get it do you?”
Hurdles shrugged and Aloe looked up at me with a confused expression. “You were making a joke?”
I frowned and let my leg fall back to the ground. “Gah. Nevermind. Let’s get this over with.”
We moved through the forest of tents without speaking. Aloe was likely too excited about finally dragging us to a casino and thinking about all the things she wanted to do there. Hurdles was probably busy trying to think of someway to impress Aloe. While I found myself thoroughly distracted by the single glowing spot in the clouds.
I only knew that the orb of light was the moon because that’s what Nurse Grey and Tracker told me. Tracker was prone to reminiscing on the beauty of the night sky. To hear him tell it there was nothing like laying back on a patch of soft grass and gazing up at the stars on a clear night. He claimed to have been able to name all the constellations once, but almost two hundred years had worn the unused memories into nothingness. For that I envied and pitied him.
I could not decide whose fate was worse. To have had the chance to see the sky unfettered by the ever present cloud cover. I could think of little that I would want more. But to have that taken from you? To be on the verge of being unable to recall what it was like? Or to have the ability to reach out and break through. To be perfectly capable of flying up into the sky to see it first hoof, but not the freedom.
The sky above the clouds was under the sole control of the enigmatic Pegasus Enclave. A military state that lived entirely above the clouds. The story goes that when the war ended the Enclave closed the sky and quarantined themselves from the rest of the world. They send down scouting parties every so often to check on the state of things, but have yet to make any real attempt to help those of us stuck on the ground. Moreover, there are ‘shoot on sight’ orders for any pony seen crossing through the clouds.
On top of that Dise and Calidonia in general had the ‘honor’ of housing the Remnant. A rebel faction of the Enclave hiding from their former allies. In order to avoid drawing attention to themselves they have a standing altitude limit at just above the average height of a building in Dise. Any pegasus or griffin seen flying higher gets a single warning shot.
“What you kids want?” A mare called, bringing me out of my thoughts and back to the present.
“We’re going to the casinos!” said Aloe, nearly bouncing on her hooves.
Even in the dim lamplight I could tell that the two mares were rolling their eyes. “Well, we can’t stop you,” the left one said. “But listen up before you go. You know Dise is not a nice place, so by the Goddesses stay together. Don’t trust anypony you don’t know and whatever you do, do NOT take credit from anypony, least of all the casinos...” I zoned out, I had no intention of doing anything other than making sure we all got back in the same shape we left. “... to drugs.”
With that the second guard pulled the lock bar for the door, allowing us to exit to the streets of Dise. Aloe led the way with Hurdles following and me taking up the rear. Here we go.
Dise, the city that never sleeps. The casinos stayed open twenty four hours a day, ready to serve up as much sin and debauchery to anypony with enough caps. And if you didn’t, well there was always some way to work off a debt. I still find it odd how some clothes could make a pony look more seductive than walking around naked like the rest of us.
As we walked down the boulevard I found myself eyeing the buildings we passed. Missing walls and collapsed floors were the norm, but the empty shadowed windows were what gave me the creeps. Half of the structures were so unsound that nopony was willing to go above the first floor. The rest were put to use by whichever gang owned the block.
When my eyes did come down to ground level a scowl quickly replaced the frown. Ponies leaning against a wall with vacant looks of ecstasy on their faces and empty syringes of Med-X scattered at their hooves. Ponies sprinting out of alleys, Dash inhalers cast aside in their haste to move. Drug addicts! I forced myself to keep my eyes forward. ‘This is for Aloe’s sake; keep a happy face for the birthday filly.’
As we entered the main square we were immediately surrounded by all kinds and colors of ponies. Well dressed business ponies milled amongst ponies who clearly hadn’t bathed... ever. Prostitutes pulled ponies down alleys for nothing more than a hoof full of caps. Drug dealers dispensed their wares just outside the doors of the casinos. I realized I was grinding my teeth and forced myself to stop. The only thing not happening in the streets of Dise was gambling. Anypony caught running a game outside a casino wouldn’t live long enough to spend his ill gotten caps.
“So where to first little filly?”
“Hey! I’m older than you and I’m not a filly!” She pouted.
“You’ll always be my little filly.” I said, with the biggest stupid grin I could muster.
“I want to go to The Moon,” chimed Hurdles.
“Ew, The Moon is so... gross.”
“I don’t know if you noticed sis, but they’re all gross.”
“Fine then, TO THE MOON!” She shouted, regaining her earlier excitement.
I don’t like casinos. At first I didn’t like them because of my mother. My mother had worked at a casino. I don’t remember which. The casino was where she first injured her wing. The stallion responsible wasn’t so lucky; apparently damaging casino ‘property’ was frowned upon. The casino was also where she lost most of her wages and picked up her drug addiction. Where everypony else saw flashing lights, excitement, and the chance to strike it rich; I only saw drug addled prostitutes, drunk fools, and ponies throwing their lives away.
But it’s more than that. The lights, the alcohol, the escorts. It’s all a lie. A fancy costume draped over a rotting corpse. They promise the chance to start again, but you always leave with less than what you brought. For the few who win it’s worse; a pony who wins thinks they can do it again. So they come back, only this time they aren’t so lucky. But they won once and if it happened once it can happen again. So they come back again and again, until the casino has taken every last cap in your pocket. Yet here I was, because a silly filly wanted to get drunk and burn some caps.
We stepped through the wooden outer doors into a spacious atrium. Not three pony lengths ahead were another series of much heavier doors painted black except for, what I assumed to be, the phases of the moon painted in an almost incandescent white. Two large unicorns in suits stood on either side of the only door with a full circle.
“Any weapons must be left at the door,” droned the maroon guard. “They will be returned to you when you leave.”
I looked to the two ponies to my left and shrugged. Hurdles stepped forward first, “We don’t have any.”
They motioned us to step forward. Hurdles went first, standing between them and letting their detection spell wash over him. Satisfied they let him inside. Aloe was next and nearly pranced through the door after the spell finished. I sighed in final resignation and followed last, shivering as the magic passed over me. The door opened and I stepped into The Moon.
It was like stepping onto the moon. Black paint covered the walls and ceiling. The only real lighting were the lamps hanging directly above the game tables, casting beams of illumination over the games. The rest was provided by either the flashing lights of slot machines or the strings of small lights that hung from the walls and ceiling. The floor was carpeted in a translucent grey that almost seemed to glow in the meager light. The effect was one that didn’t detract from a ponies ability to see, while still making the entire building appear to be pitch black.
A waitress walked by with a tray of drinks balanced on her back. Hurdles reached out with a hoof and scooped one up, drinking it in one go. Aloe levitated one as well, though she only sipped at the potent liquid. I didn’t drink. Even if I did, I knew that somepony had to stay sober and it obviously wasn’t going to be Hurdles.
“Come on Lucky, lets go dancing!” Aloe shouted over the noise.
Before I could say anything my hoof rose off the floor in a light blue haze. She began dragging me down one of the aisles between the rows of slot machines. We trotted past ponies jamming chips into the slots and pulling levers. Lights flashed whether they won or not, rewarding them for their trouble as it took their money. And they were smiling!
We barged through the swinging doors. My already pained ears folded hard against my skull to save themselves from the music blaring out of the pony sized speakers above the stage. A DJ stood under them, spinning turntables and jamming out to the music in her headphones. Aloe turned to face me with a grin that threatened to split her face in two.
“Uhm.. I think I’ll get something to drink... at the bar...” I screamed over the music, pointing at the bar to my left.
Aloe’s gaze followed my hoof; she pouted for a moment, only to recover with gusto and grab Hurdles leg to drag him to the dance floor that took up most of the room. I watched for a few moment as he stumbled after the yellow mare and allowed myself a small grin, at least they would have a good time tonight.
Making my way to the bar along the side wall and pulled myself up into one of the stools. Ordering a regular apple cider I turned to watch the dance floor. Hurdles and Aloe were just joining in with the press of bodies moving erratically to the ‘music’.
“Well hello, fly boy. Don’t get too many pegasi around here.” I grunted in reply and kept watching Hurdles try to dance with Aloe. It was almost amusing. I If it had been any later in the night I might have thought it was just the alcohol, but as it was Hurdles probably just couldn’t dance to save his life. “Those two your friends?” I continued my tactic of ignoring her, hoping she would take the hint. “Well they seem to know what to do when you come to The Moon. So, why aren’t you out there having fun with them?”
I finally turned to the mare who was talking at me, intent on telling her off in the cleverest way I could think of. “I...” I froze, unable to process the amount of hot, glowing, pink sitting beside me.
Her eyes widened as they came back up to my face, “A blank flank? Oh dear, I understand. Come with Candy, I know just how to make your forget your troubles.” With a hoof wrapped around my neck she dragged me away from the bar and through a side door.
The music disappeared as the sound proof door swung closed, now if only somepony would stop that infernal ringing. We were now standing in a room filled with a variety of different tables that all shared the same green felt covering. ‘Candy’ quickly pulled me over to the nearest table. She deposited me in directly across from a pony wearing an odd green brim on his brow.
“This colt needs some fun. Give him a hundred chips on my tab will ya, Turner.” She turned back to me as the dealer placed a pile of colored clay chips on the table in front of me. “Come on hon, you’re here to have fun. So, have some fun.”
I looked down at the stack of pink chips now sitting in front of me then back at Candy. I paused, letting my eyes reprocess the pink, before coming up with a snarky way to get rid of her; apparently I am a sucker for pouty lips. I sighed, ‘Well, at least it’s not my money.’
I turned my attention to the table in front of me. Most of the table seemed to be covered in a chart of numbers. Listed from one to thirty six each number was either red or black. Besides those there were boxes labeled ‘Odds’, ‘Evens’, 1 - 12’, ‘25 - 36’, and zero and double zero. On the far left side of the table was an fancy looking wheel and axle. I had no idea what to do.
Separating the stack into ten piles, I pushed them randomly on to different boxes without really paying any attention. The last ten chips I placed on seven. Stupid, I know, but you have to play your numbers, right? The dealer, Candy, and the other ponies all looked at me like I was an idiot. Honestly, I felt like one. I had never gambled before in my life and I didn’t understand this game at all.
The dealer reached towards the wheel at the left side of the table. The dark brown wood was polished to a shine under the spotlight hanging over head. The axle stuck a good two hooves into the air with four short fretts tipped with brass knobs at the top. Black and red squares were painted around the wide base with large numbers printed on them. Two squares, however, were green, one with a zero and the other with two zeros. The dealers hoof hit one of the four spokes extending out of the tall axle in the center of the wheel. With the wheel spinning the dealer pressed a button. A flurry of activity erupted from the other ponies at the table as a white ball began to spin and bounce counter to the wheel. Piles of chips were pushed all over the board as the players began to place their bets. ‘Ah, I get it now.’
The ball sped around the wheel with every eye locked on it. The wheel slowed, the ball began to descend from the top rim as it lost momentum. It hit the first space and bounced once, twice, thrice, and stopped. The wheel slowed. Seven.
“Hey, look at you. You must be lucky.”
“Yes, I am.” She looked at me dumbly, not getting the joke.
The dealer collected all the losing bets before pushing a small pile of chips towards me. “Your winnings, sir.”
I looked at the stacks and then back at the dealer, “Really? But that’s... a lot.”
“The odds on numbers is thirty-five to one, hon.”
“That’s three hundred sixty chips? I just won three hundred sixty chips?” Wow, I took a breath to steady myself before reaching for my chips.
A pink hoof stopped me, “Minus my cut. It was my seed money after all.”
All told I came away from a single spin of roulette with a hundred free chips. I immediately stepped away from the table. I’m not the smartest pony, but even I know not to press my luck. If I did the same thing again I could be out of chips on a single spin. As I backed away a pink hoof wrapped around my neck and Candy began dragging me through the crowd of ponies to the another table.
The first place Candy brought me was a blackjack table. Candy let me watch a few rounds play before shoving me up to the table and forcing me to take a seat. She stood a pace back, her muzzle hovering next to my ear as she pressed up against my flank.
I placed five chips on the table in front of me and the dealer began passing out the cards. One faced down and one faced up. The Queen of Spades and, I tilted the card up with my wing, the Ace of Spades.
“Twenty one!” Candy extolled flipping the card over with her magic.
“Winner winner, pumpkin dinner.” the dealer said, not nearly as excited.
The cards seemed to favor me. I didn’t win every round, but I did win a lot. After reaching a thousand chips I began to get nervous. Two rather large earth ponies were paying a little too much attention to me as I collected winnings after winnings. I decided I had had enough blackjack for the day. Pushing a nice tip to the dealer I thanked him and collected my chips.
With a new bag for my chips, courtesy of The Moon, I stepped back from the table. Only for Candy to escort me, bodily, to the craps table. Candy tried to explain the rules of the dice game, but I more or less ignored her. When she decided that I understood enough to play she, once again, pushed me up to the bowl of a table.
When I picked up the dice I felt something. I don’t think I could ever explain it properly. It was like a finding something I had lost a long time ago. I rubbed them between my hooves feeling their texture and pips on my frogs. Every eye was on me. I put a hundred on Pass and I tossed the dice. Eleven. Win. Seven. Win. Ten. Ten. Win. Four. Seven. Loss. Seven. Win. Roll after roll the dice fell. Roll after roll I won. I lost some sure, but not nearly as much as I won.
I was about to roll the dice again when Candy tapped me lightly on the shoulder. She had the stupidest grin on her face. She pointed to my flank, I looked down.
A vice tightened its grip on my head. I rolled over.
I gripped my face. Damn floors need to learn to be softer. I tried, and failed, to open my eyes. Why did my head hurt so much? Reaching up to the bed I started blindly trying to pull myself back in. The sheets moved so I kept pulling.
Somepony landed on top of me knocking the wind from my lungs. I felt legs wrap themselves around me and a head nuzzle against me cheek.
“Mmmmm, I don’t think I can go again so soon, hon.” Oh, that’s nice, can you get off of... wait what?
I jumped to my hooves throwing the other pony to the floor. Which was a terrible idea. The world spun. I tilted to the right, my hooves struggling to stay under me, until I hit a wall. Dust and dirt fell from the ceiling. Using the wall as support, I steadied myself. I brought one hoof to cover my eyes and tried to open them again.
‘The light! It burns!’ It took me a few tries to be able to keep my eyes open. Just like the rest of the casino, the walls were painted black; even the windows were painted over, though daylight was trying to push it’s way through. The carpet under me might have been clean, but the bits of fluff that came up at each step left my hooves feeling dirty. Paint flakes rubbed into my side from the wall as I tried to gain my balance. With a groan I reached up a wing to remove the vice pressing against the sides of my head, only there was no vice on my head...
“Wh-what happened last night?” My mouth felt dryer than the desert.
“Hmmmm, that hurts my pride, hon.”
That insufferable pink mare was laying on the floor where I had deposited her, wrapping the bed sheets around herself. She was a complete mess and pink, so very pink it hurt. I rubbed my eyes and blinked. Pink mane, pink tail, pink coat, and a barely visible pink lollipop Cutie Mark. When I finally tore my eyes away everything in the room took on a greenish tint.
I tried to focus on what I could remember. Bar, roulette, blackjack, craps, Cutie Mark... Cutie Mark! I twisted around much too fast and my vision swam, but there it was. I had my Cutie Mark! My rump hit the floor. Two red dice! DICE! It was official, the world hated me. I glared at the image on my flank. Seven white pips stared back, mocking me. This had to be a joke. I scrubbed at them with my wings. “ARG!” Oh, my head!
Dragging myself back across the floor, I poked Candy in the stomach. She grunted. I poked her again harder. She mumbled something and swatted at my hoof. I snorted in frustration. When I put my muzzle to her ear she giggled a little.
She shot up gripping her ear in a hoof and I grabbed my entire head as the pounding returned in force. That was stupid. When the pounding began to subside I looked up to see her glaring at me through bloodshot eyes.
“Damn it, Lucky, what?”
“What happened last night? The last thing I remember is getting my Cutie Mark.”
She looked at me dumbly, “Really?”
When I nodded a smile began to creep across her lips. As it spread she began to shake. A hoof went to her lips to stifle a laugh. That only lasted a second before she fell over in a fit of laughter. I just watched as she slowly brought herself under control wiping tears from her eyes.
I tried to hide behind my hooves as she regaled me with my drunken adventures from the night before. Apparently after seeing my Cutie Mark I decide it would be a good idea to start drinking to celebrate. After that I decided that everypony needed to know, so I got on stage and once up there, instead of saying my peace, I started to entertain the crowd with a song... and dance. Hurdles managed to drag me off before I started my encore, thanks buddy. The next few hours consisted of gambling, drinking and...
“I did not!”
“Oh yes, yes you did. Right there, in front of everypony. A big wet drunken kiss, lasted a good thirty seconds, I timed it. Had it been any other stallion you would’ve been nothing but a smear on the carpet. Then I dragged you up here and well, you really know how to show a mare a good time,” she winked.
“How much did I drink?”
“Two bottles of whisky!”
“No, two shots. Sorry hon, but you're a bonafide light weight.”
“Oh Goddesses.” I wrapped my legs around my stomach as a wave of nausea washed over me. “I need to go home.”
“Are you sure, hon?” Her hoof smoothed my mane, “We could pick up where we left off last night.”
I pushed her hoof away and stood. The dizziness almost dropped me again, but I managed to stay up. “No. I-I need to go.”
I looked around the room and spotted my saddlebags sitting on the floor at the foot of the bed. Unsteadily, I made my way over and started to strap them on. ‘Okay, find Aloe and Hurdles and, if necessary, drag them out. Then to home and bed,’ my stomach rumbled, ‘okay food then bed.’
“Before you go, can I ask one question?”
I sighed and leaned against the door frame, “What?”
“What’s so important about that doll?”
I touched the figurine still hanging around my neck, “It was a gift, from somepony I lost a long time ago.”
With that I stepped into the hallway, leaving the pink unicorn to do whatever she was going to do. Like everything else in this Godess forsaken place, the walls were black and the floor was white with strings of lights hanging loosely from the ceiling. I looked left. I looked right. Tartarus take this place.
I turned to the right and began trotting.
I turned around, retracing my steps until I found the stairs down. The steps led to the bar and dance floor from from the night before, now empty save for a few ponies barely conscious at the bar.
I faced the soft voice, a smile spreading on my lips. “Aloe, oh good. Are you ready to leave?” The small yellow unicorn nodded, the large red pony next to her barely seemed to be able to stand. “Come on you two, it’s time to go home.”
The doors gave way to the still populated lobby. Everything seemed to be the same as before. Night and day had no meaning in the darkness of The Moon. The bells and lights of the slot machines still rang and flashed the same as they had the night before. The casinos never slept.
The three of us stopped at the change counter. Rather, I stepped up to the change counter, Aloe and Hurdles stayed a few paces back. Iron bars separated me from the unicorn on the other side. I passed my bag of chips through the slot and waited for her to count out my caps.
“Are those two with you?” she asked, pointing to my friends.
I glanced back for a moment, “Yes... Is that a problem?”
Without another word she slid a slip of paper to me.
Holding it up I scanned the bill, “They spent HOW MUCH!” I yelled much too loudly, causing both my friends and myself to cringe.
The cashier nodded. I looked at it, then at my ‘friends’ and ended on the bag of chips which was already on the other side of the bars. I sighed in resignation. Well I hope they enjoyed themselves more than I did... Then again maybe not. Apparently I had had way too much fun last night, even if I couldn’t remember any of it.
“Is that enough?” I asked.
She emptied the bag into some kind of sorting and counting machine. It took a little bit of time for it to finish and spit out a receipt. The cashier scanned the slip of paper, looked at the bill, then bent down and pulled out a small bag. She pushed this new bag under the bars to me. I looked into the small sack. One hundred caps. Well, at least the night wasn’t a complete bust. I dropped the bag of caps into my saddle bags.
The trip back was slow and painful. The light from the sky didn’t help my hangover at all. Fortunately, none of us seemed to be up to talking, too busy regretting our choices I bet. I don’t know how much they remembered about last night, but I was sure that I didn’t want to remember any of what I had been told. I can’t imagine they were any better off. When we got to the compound the guards let us in without word or question, though not without a little snickering and some outright laughter.
Once inside we each went our separate ways. None of us wanted to have to think about the night we had just had. I don’t know where they went, but I went straight to the mess tent. I took as much food and water as they would let me, which was not nearly enough. After that I went to my tent, threw my saddlebags on the floor, flipped my still knocked over bed upright, and flopped down on the mattress to try and sleep away the rest of my hangover.
That worked about as well as can be expected. When I finally gave up I sat on the edge of my bed holding my head in my hooves. I happened to look up to see something odd on the ground next to my saddlebags. Curiosity got the better of me, I half stepped, half fell, over to look at it. It seemed like an odd piece of armour at first, a shin guard maybe. I picked it up in my hooves and turned it over. The other side housed a glass plate, three orange buttons, and a dial.
“Lucky! I’m surprised you’re awake!” I cringed back at the sudden noise piercing into my head. Grey stood at the entrance to my tent wearing a smile that split her face in two. She walked over and pulled me into a hug. “Oh, you poor stallion, you,” she whispered softly. “Still got a little hangover?”
“That’s what you get for celebrating without me. Getting your Cutie Mark and not even telling me.” She chided and pulled back , holding me at legs length, “Oh, my little Lucky, all grown up. It seems like just yesterday you were knee high to a Molerat.” I stared at the ground as my cheeks reddened. I could talk to any other mare just fine, but whenever Grey was around my brain seemed to seize up. “What’s that? Is that a... Oh Lucky where’d you get that?” she pointed at the shin guard.
“I-I’m not sure,” I stuttered still feeling like a foal. “It was in my bags. I must ‘ve picked it up sometime last night, but I don’t remember.”
“Do you even know what that is?” I shook my head, turning it over in my hooves. “It’s a Pipbuck. I’ve only ever seen one before.”
“So, what is it?”
“I’m not sure... She never told me, a computer of some kind. Are you going to put it on?”
“I guess...” I shrugged.
Putting the screen half on top of my left leg I held it down with my muzzle and pushed the bottom half up with my other hoof. The two halves came together with a definitive ‘Click’. It hissed slightly as it tightened onto my leg. That is where things got weird. I gasped as I felt a hundred little pin pricks pierce my skin. A cold sensation, not unlike an I.V. drip, ran up my leg and through the rest of my body. It hit my eyes and everything went dark. When It came back my vision was filled with amber bars and lines. Words started to type out across my vision.
I started to hyperventilate and Nurse Grey took my head in her hooves, “Lucky? Lucky are you okay?” she held my head, forcing me to look into her eyes, “Calm down, Lucky, deep breaths.” I closed my eyes and took a few calming breaths. My heart rate slowly dropped back to normal and I opened my eyes again. The images still floated in my vision and I reached out my hoof to swipe them away to no avail. Just at the bottom center of my sight was a compass, to the left of that a long cluster of bars that read GH, and to the right a similar cluster that read SP. I blinked to try and clear my vision. When my eyes were closed it all went away, but it came right back as I reopened them. I looked up at the mare holding my head and ‘Grey’ popped up just above the compass. She smiled at me, “Lucky?”
I managed a weak smile before I slumped forward.
Name: Lucky Sevens
Abilities: You have wings and can fly when you’re not over-encumbered. You’re also able to manipulate clouds and use Enclave computers and locks.
General Description: Your fur is, as you have find out, the same color green as a craps table. Your mane and tail are mostly white with red stripes running through them. You aren’t as tough as some ponies, but you make up for it by being more likeable.
Let the Stable-Tec Vig-O-Matic tell you just how S.P.E.C.I.A.L. you really are.
Survival, Speech, Medicine
Cutie Mark: Pair of red casino dice showing four and three pips
Jack of All /Master of None: Aren’t you something? You can do anything you put your mind to with ease. (Each skill point you spend adds two points to a skill). Your ability to advance seems to level off after a while (Once a skill reaches 60 you will gain one for one). And the further you advance the harder things become (After a skill reaches 80 each skill point you spend on it only adds .5 to the skill). Even as you struggle to get better you know you are reaching for a glass ceiling (No skill can be raised above 95).
D.A.R.E.: Personal experiences and a family history have taught you to hate drugs. You are more susceptible to addiction and can even become addicted to things like healing potions and Rad-X. Because of this you would rather suffer through broken bones than take any drugs (hope you like scars). On the flip side your body lacks any resistance to these chemicals so when you do take them their effects are 20% more potent and last 20% longer.
Ministry Mare Statuette: Rainbow Dash: You have an Awesome Rainbow Dash Ministry Mare Doll. You don’t know what it actually does, but you definitely feel 20% cooler just carrying it around.
PipBuck 3k series: Congratulations on your brand new PipBuck. Now if only you knew how to use it.
(Special thanks to my Editors and Pre-Readers genericlogin1, Fillyosopher, Doomande)