Somewhere in the galaxy, a small celestial body was plunged suddenly into a planet-wide thunderstorm. ‘I feel like cooking me some WAFFLES!’
The Equestrian Wasteland, a ravished shell of the once lush and forgiving country. Anypony not tucked away in a Stable or high above in the clouds survived long without it taking its toll. How the ruined twisted remains of what was once a carefree landscape managed to do that, was wholly dependent on the circumstances surrounding each individual pony.
In my case, it was the simple fact that I was alone. To be alone in the wastes meant more than just not having somepony there to watch your flank. You need friends to survive out here or sooner rather than later, the Wasteland will chew on your soul and spit out something that mockingly resembles what used to be a pony. Sure I had acquaintances, ponies here and there that knew of me, I could even call a few ‘friend’, but not in the truest sense of the word. It had been a long time since anyone ‘knew’ me, or cared about me; most detrimental of all, I was growing alright with this.
The names’ Sunset, in case I forgot to mention that and yes I am a Pegasus, no I’m not a Dashite, but that’s not for lack of trying on the Enclave’s part. I do what I can around Manehattan protecting the trade caravans. I help out old Ditzy-Doo seeing as she’s a Pegasus like myself, ghoul, yes, but a Pegasus just the same. We get along seeing as I’m one of the very few ponies that can run cover for her flying delivery wagon and I’d known her most of my life. Shes a little on the scatter-brained side, but that just adds to her charm. I don’t really have any place that I call home, but if pressed I guess I’d say that’d be a small shack just northwest of New Appleloosa, though that hasn’t been home for a very long time.
This job wasn’t much different from my usual. A small trade caravan was heading from New Appleloosa to Gutterville carrying, well, whatever odds and ends this particular band of scavengers had picked up I suppose. It also included a small shipment from Ditzy containing some much needed medical supplies. I saw the job posted on the board outside ‘Absolutely Everything’ and, although not really needing the caps, took the job. Why? Because it gave me a chance to do something I was good at. To protect another group of ponies who, even though they might not be ‘friends’, at the very least they had a mutual understanding. Which is something, if anything, to help them survive against the ever suffocating wasteland. Plus, it would give me a chance to stretch my wings. The currents on the east side of Manehattan created some wicked thermals and I am not one to pass up a good flight.
It would be a three day journey following the old rail lines providing that we didn’t run into trouble. I knew the likely spots for raiders to hang out; their camps were not the most inconspicuous places as they tended to look like a bloody smear across the landscape. We got lucky; the only encampment that we had to go past, due to the road being boxed into a canyon, seemed to be empty, at least for the time being. Not wanting to find out what poor souls those beasts were praying on, I urged the caravan driver to press on into the night putting much needed distance between us and the rotting hell hole. The second day of the trip was uneventful as well. I even caught myself thinking maybe the wasteland was losing its edge. A single mare with a pair of pack Brahmin traveling with a lightly armored Pegasus would have been easy game for a slaver party. Even more so seeing as a cart being pulled by the pair of two headed cows had to stick to hard level surfaces. No, the worst we got was a small swarm of Bloatsprites which was easily dispatched with a few controlled bursts of my twin 5.56mm light machine guns attached to my Battle Saddle. I almost felt as though it wouldn’t be fair taking the caps from the poor caravan merchant for guarding her. I mean, come on, she even handed me a new box of ammunition to replace the ones I just fired, free of charge.
Night fell and a light rain descended from the ever-present cloud cover that perpetually hung over the Equestrian Wasteland. My ‘brethren on high’ saw to that, sealing themselves above in relative safety, not once lifting a hoof unless it directly benefitted the Grand Pegasus Enclave. Okay, so I might not have the Dashite brand, but that’s only because they haven’t caught me. I never said that I didn’t think like one.
We made our camp under the ruins of what was once an elevated carriageway taking shelter from the elements. We swapped stories, shared a meal, and had a laugh or two recalling more humorous parts of our journeys. I looked at the dusty cream colored mare still grinning from one of her exploits involving a deadbeat shop owner and an over ripe fish. Deciding that she wasn’t half bad looking and if she wanted to, I wouldn’t say no. She didn’t. On the third day we reached the jagged buildings marking the outskirts of Manehattan.
This is what I had been waiting for, the flat slabs of concrete and the valleys created by the broken buildings. Even in the weak sunlight that did break through the cloud layer the temperature differences were enough to create some wicked air currents. I told the mare that I was going to go scout ahead and that she should just stay on course. That wasn’t entirely untrue, the road to Gutterville did pass by a set of ruins that seemed to produce a ghoul pony every once in awhile. I’d be sure to bank over that spot and actually pay attention to the ground and not just the eddies of air swirling above it. Something shiny caught my attention as I crested over the top of a rather intact office building. Pegasus eyesight is naturally attracted to glistening objects it would seem and mine was no exception. A bright green flickering light seemed to be emitting from a hole at the center of the plaza across from the building I was flying over. I adjusted course and decided that it needed further investigation. My luck ran out. In the back of my mind I knew that whatever this was, it could be the wastelands’ payment for two days of uneventful journey, but I flew over anyways. The ground seemed to erupt in a ball of frothing green flames. No, that’s not quite right; it seemed to erupt in a ball of frothing green electricity that happened to act like fire.
- Yes, that’s a much better description. -
My brain informed me, as the overpressure of the blast passed through my body forcing my head to look upwards at the hole torn through the clouds by the green blast.
- You’re in pain now. -
- You’re welcome. -
I awoke sprawled out on the ground my head pounding like I’d drank too much Wild Pegasus, or maybe Equestria Bailey’s. Either way the pain in my head gave me merciful seconds of consciousness before the rest of my body reminded me that it existed. My right fore-hoof sent jabbing needles of pain to the base of my skull, however I expected that seeing as that leg was pretty much lame to begin with. The friendly Enclave and an elevator shaft saw to that. What I didn’t expect was the smell of burning Kevlar and hide coupled with the wet sticky feeling of blood running across my neck, and back, and down my side.
I tried to move my muzzle to my saddlebags but every muscle in my body protested. I got so far as to be able to look at the vaulted roof that was above me which held at its apex a circular opening which natural light flowed thought. Try as I might from where I was laying I couldn’t see the top of the shaft connecting the base of this skylight to the surface.
Did… I fall down that? How… healing potions right. Oww.
I forced myself to double over and using my teeth unlatched the clasp holding my pack closed. Luckily it landed medical pack up, but as my tongue soon discovered even that wasn’t enough to spare all the contents from harm. As I used my wings to balance myself on my right flank I placed the remaining three healing potions on the floor next to me. I was just biting the stopper off the top of the first when a voice caught my attention.
“He’s awake you know.”
“Yes I know you know… Yes I know you know I know…”
Oh Celestia what have I…?
“He can hear us you know.”
– Drink the potion! -
I did, finally pulling the stopper off the first potion and quickly swallowing its contents. Whatever this fresh batch of crazy was, I knew I had to be at least able to stand to face it.
“What are we going to do with him?” I was chugging the second healing potion now dreading the answer from the pony I couldn’t hear.
“No, no you can’t just shock him, you already did that remember? That’s what brought him here in the fir- no I’m not talking ba-“
Why does it sound like he’s talking through a tin can?
Even in my immobile state, if there was such a thing as a healing potion chugging contest I was a sure winner. Might have been feeling better but my mind was so focused on the words being spoken in the next room over that I might have missed the sensation of the healing magic stitching my ripped and burnt hide back together. However, by the time I licked the last drop from the flask I could feel the magic working and my wounds had already almost completely closed up.
That must have been the effects of the first, maybe second potion.
My seared hide started to regrow is dull orange coat beneath the still very much burnt lightly armored barding I wore. I let out a pained gasp that I was unaware I was holding in as the searing pain of my flesh cooking off my bones finally subsided to less than mind-breaking levels of pain. In this half second of respite my eyes noticed movement from the direction which I thought I had heard the disturbance.
Oh Luna protect me in your wings. What in Equestria is that monster?
“You know,” said what appeared to be a burning green pony wearing all black armor “I don’t mean for this to sound strange, but I can hear your thoughts.”
Though there was physical silence in the air between myself and the personification of Balefire itself, my brain, however, was running all sorts of fight or flight responses. My mind may have been willing to try any of these options to avoid being anywhere near here with the likely source of my impending demise. However, either my body really was that wrecked, or just flat out refused to cooperate.
“Uhh…” said the suddenly awkward Balefire-pony.
Wait, can armor change its facial expressions?
“E-excuse me, but I need to discharge this excess energy built up in Mr. Sherly soo…”
The monster walked towards me, my brain screaming all shades of panic into my consciousness, and aimed something cylindrical and metal towards the skylight. Once again my world exploded in green light and electricity that moved like Balefire.
- You’re hurt again. –
Thanks. I’m going to go back to bed now, alright?
- Most likely for the best. –
I must have only been out for a few seconds seeing as when my eyes fluttered open, the metallic monsterpony was still standing above me. I didn’t smell burning flesh this time much to the relief of my pain addled brain. I didn’t feel any more hurt after the second blast, more tired perhaps but that could be from the initial burst of adrenalin working itself out of my system. My brain was still trying to rationalise what had just happened. Before I could sort any of these ideas into a semblance of order, the cybernetic pony glanced down at me cowering on the floor.
“Look you need to calm down, your mind is moving too fast for me to keep my own sanity.” Stated the buck in a metallic laced voice.
What do you mean my mind is moving too fast? How does he know what I’m thinking? What in Equestria is he? How the Goddess am I going to get out of he-
“Enough!” punctuated with a loud stomp of his very solid hoof into the decking uncomfortably close to my head. “L-look I don’t like it but the Grid has linked both of our minds, and for the moment at least I’d appreciate it if you’d please try and calm down. Care for some chocolate pudding?”
Grid linking our minds? What does that mean, why do I- pudding?
Thinking that it would be, at this point, quite rude to turn down the offer of the cyber-pony, monster glowing green fireball...thing, I slowly opened my muzzle and as deliberate as I could without mentally screaming the words ‘freak’, ‘run’, and ‘panic’ at full mental volume said;
“Ooh, Good! Been forever since I've had guests! I do suppose introductions are in dire need now aren't they?
There was a mechanical whirr that emanated from a recess in the floor as a single bowl, of pudding raised itself from the ground, clasped in a pair of metal claws.
“The name is...” The cybernetic pony’s face seemed to lose some of its focus. “The name is... name... name name name... what is my name...? Don't suppose you know who I am by chance?”
"Well assuming that your name isn’t ‘Mr. Sherly’, no, ah have no idea who ya are."
I gazed about in every direction possible looking for an open window or anything that I could use to escape this hell.
"I'm sorry, most ah know ‘bout you is that you resemble a Balefire bomb, which walks and talks, and can apparently hear my thoughts. Name's Sunset, though, ah suppose you already knew that.”
Maybe if I extend my hoof only halfway he won't want to shake, or electrocute me.
As much as I looked about there was no easy skyward route out of whatever ‘laboratory’ I’d fallen into. The only way out that I assumed didn’t lead further into the unknown, was back up through the skylight. That was a no-go seeing as green energy was constantly arcing between the exposed conduits lining the shaft.
How in Equestria did I surviv-
“Hmm... Darn... Well then I guess you could call me by my idols name, Tes.”
Great, now the burning green monsterpony has an idol.
“A-and yes, my... appearance is more than a little off putting. Often drives ponies away, calling me a ‘monster’.” The last word biting thought the chill of the room I was laying in. “Tell me, ‘Setting Light’, do you think me a monster? Oh, and don't bother lying, I can feel your emotions, they radiate off of you in small electrical busts.”
A shiver of adrenaline burst up my spine as my mind scrambled with a way to answer the mon-
I mean, nice handsome pony who most definitely did not resemble hellfire incarnate-
In a way that would mean I would get to see the light of day once more.
"T-t-that would all hinge on your definition of monster?" I squeaked. "Do ah have fear of you? Yes, undoubtedly, fear that my vague proximity to you will somehow cause me to, justifiably, burst into ash. However to call you a monster? Honestly, no, I've not, for example, witnessed you reduce a population center to rubble, though ah do not doubt you're lacking in capability".
Silence was never a good thing. Silence meant that negotiations had broken down, and that any continuing exchanges were to be carried out by way of firepower. The building electrical charge that I could feel setting my fur on end seemed to confirm my fears. I tried to raise myself up to bring my hopefully still functioning Battle Saddle to bear against the burning cyberpony standing not more than a leg’s reach from me. My body protested with all its might, my right fore-leg sending flashes of pain causing my vision to blur. Still I was able to at least raise myself off the floor onto my haunches. ‘Tes’ started to laugh, I wasn’t sure if he was laughing at my feeble attempt to defend myself, or something else. Either way it set my nerves on edge and I reflexively flinched away when his laughter reached ‘lunatic’ levels.
“You're something else, you know? Judging by action rather than looks, but not disregarding. I do suppose these, green tinted flames are a bit... off putting, but don't worry, they won't spread.”
In an attempt to prove that his flaming aura was benign ‘Tes’ put his hooves around a stack of centuries old paperwork laying atop a nearby table. I suppose seeing that the paper didn’t immediately burst into matching green flames would have been enough for a rational mind to be convinced. However, mine was still fresh with the experience of being engulfed by that same green electro-balefire and my hide still itched from where the new fur had been magically grown back.
“Its special,” Tes continued seemingly oblivious to my inability to reason right now, “designed it myself, regular fire would burn me alive you see. As for firepower, well... I suppose I could throw something together, wouldn't be too hard...”
Oh Celestia you’ve got him thinking on how better to fry you into ash.
Tes coughed, still standing over at the table, thankfully no longer in such close proximity.
Cyberponies can cough?
"Heh heh yeah..." Laughed Tes to break the audible silence creeping its way back into the room.
Oh look pudding! Something I can think about that's not my immediate peril.
"Say, let's suppose that you're not some cybernetic weaponized hellsp- ah mean pony."
I buried my face in the bowl of pudding trying desperately to not look at, what I could only assume was an angry Tes. Still, I wanted to know what it was that I had stumbled upon, not having ever run across anything like him in the Wastes before.
"What are you?” I asked tentatively around a mouthful of the chocolate pudding, which was rather tasty. “At least to yer knowledge?"
Well at least this chocolate pudding is good, last thing I'll taste before being jolted to death, then maybe the nice cyberpony will restart my heart, then shock me again, then revive me, then burn my body to ash. Then, who knows, maybe some magic I’m unaware of will revive my body once more, then back to ash again, and oh Luna why can't I stop thinking about this I'm going to be si-
Something about the idea of being burnt alive by a force so powerful as to turn my body into ash struck a particularly disturbing chord. The contents of my stomach found their way onto the floor of the laboratory, thankfully not splattering on anything that looked important. I really should stop over thinking these things.
"... Sorry.” My head held low, any sense of composure was gone at this point.
“I.. I'll have that cleaned later.” Tes’ eyes flickering to the mess on the floor, then back into mine. “Sure, I have a enthusiasm for electricity and I’ve had to modify my body in order to deal with the currents involved; but, to answer your question, I'm the same as any other pony. As far as I know.”
Few? Well I suppose a few at a time maybe.
“My brain may be encased in a metallic housing, however I still have morals. One of which being 'no frying the guests'. You're the first pony that I have had a conversation with in over... what year is it?”
That question caught me by surprise. When living out in the Wasteland you didn’t really have the time or ability to precisely measure the days, sure you would get lucky every once in a while and find a still functioning terminal with a date and time displayed, but even then you have to take what it read with a grain of salt. You could never could really know if that was correct.
"Ah don't rightly know myself, simple pony."
What year was it? It's been, how many years since I left Canterlot? Why is he asking me at all? With all this still functioning equipment down here you would think that something would have kept track of the current date, right?
"Anyways,” derailing my own train of thought. “I'll take your word that you're not going to turn me into crispy cheese fritters."
Sunshine celery stalks, shut up brain! If I could have physically used a hoof to stamp out the thought of once again being reduced to nothing more than a pile of ash, I would have.
"You'd think that somewhere inside your mechanical, enhancements, you’d have a clock somewhere, right?" As I looked over his form taking in all the various mechanical features, I wondered what all they did, and how much better they would perform over organic. While observing the steel appendages there was a sudden twinge of pain in my right foreleg. This was almost as if it was trying to tell me how much better life would be if I could be free of this lame limb.
“I...do have a clock in here,” there was a look of pain that seemed to cross the metallic face, “but I'm afraid it doesn't keep track of time moving forward, rather, it counts... down, and I don't dare look at it.” Tes paused, then shuffled his hooves on the ground before looking at me with my muzzle still buried in the bowl of pudding.
- Look just because I’d just thrown up doesn’t mean I’m not going to enjoy fresh chocolate pudding when it’s offered to me, don’t judge. -
“Also... Canterlot?” Said the cyberpony interrupting my happy munching. I tried not to think about how I’d be able to lift the bowl off the table if both my limbs still functioned properly.
“And that song? What are they? They sound so new... Also, don't envy this... body.” The last word sounded hollow.
"That landing seven years ago begs to differ" I mutter around the last mouthful of pudding. "Wait new?!?"
A pudding spit-take is not something to be amused by, moreover it looked very much like the ugly spot of sick still adorning the laboratory floor, which in turn triggered two events, the first was to repeat the act of evacuating my stomach, and the second was the thought process of being turned inside out atom by atom.
"...Caught it that time." I said sheepishly, having forced the bile back down my throat. Vaguely motioning to what I hoped was a fluffy floor pillow and not some form of lab equipment. "Can I lie down here?" My body didn't wait for an answer, or for me to make it all the way.
"Hello floor, we meet again." Nearly biting off the end of my tongue when my teeth snapped shut from the impact of the floor.
“Go ahead, take a rest. And yes, new? Why...? Exactly how long has it been?” Tes walked over to where I’d collapsed, the obsidian color of his body showing as the green flames died down around him. “I mean, I know that I can get involved in my work and quite often and I can lose track of a few months there and there. However, your reaction tells me that it has been a bit longer than ‘a few months’, hasn't it?”
The mechanical pony sat down next to my sprawled body placing a hoof lightly on my right fore-leg. At this distance I could hear the motors and magic running through the limbs as they moved composing a symphony of whirring and buzzing.
“And enjoy that pain in your leg, at least that lets you know it’s still yours.”
My exhausted body lay there haphazardly on the floor. My mind slowly processing Tes’ words, enjoying the cool sensation of his metallic limb on my burning fore-leg.
My eyes and nostrils flared wide at the full realization of what the cyberpony had said.
"Months? Canterlot? That's been around since before the bombs fell, since before the time of written lore!” Something popped in my brain. "You, can't have seriously... then, you- your, but, those are recent!” Mustering what little physical strength I had left I pointed wingtip at Tes’ cybernetic limbs. “Fluttershy, the MoP! You can't? How- I..." Mouth and brain refused to work together as the true weight of the physical punishment my body had endured, healing potions or no, finally crashed upon me. The last thing I remember saying, or at least thinking I said was "Ah found the bottom of the rabbit hole".
“Oh dear. Looks like he's broken. But what was he talking about? Bombs? Fluttershy, maybe a friend of his?... Not even going to try and figure out MoP. Cleaning supplies maybe... And what does he mean before written lore?... Just how long have I been away?... MAP, please transport our new arrival to a guest room. We need to have a talk once he pulls himself together.”
A familiar robotic voice filled the room from the speakers mounted throughout, “Yes sir, I shall also clean the 'mess' he left behind.”
I looked up beyond the single opening in the ceiling as the medical transporter encased the unconscious Pegasus in a field of artificial magic, teleporting him away to a guest room somewhere in the complex. I started to think about just how much time I’d spent down here, or at least, how much time I ‘remembered’ spending down here.
Footnote: Maximum Level Reached
Quest Perk added: Balefire ‘Resistant’- Though not granting you the ability to withstand the blast of a Balefire Bomb, their magical flames now do 30% less damage to your body on contact.
((Authors note: First and foremost I have to thank Kkat for writing the original Fallout Equestria, followed by Somber for writing FoE: Project Horizons. If it wasn’t for reading both of your stories, I’d have never thought about attempting to add to this universe. On that note as much as I am trying to stay to ‘cannon’ throughout the duration of this story, I may or may not trod on some aspects of ‘fancannon’ laid out in other parts of the FoE universe, and for that I’m preemptively sorry for. I’ve read a lot of the major works available, however I’ve not read them all, so if I do cross something, please keep in mind it was not intentional.
Secondly, many thanks for the support of those in the “Hooves and Dials” chat [You know who you are] for pushing me to actually follow through and publish this story.
Lastly I would like to thank my co-writer The Wiseless Stallion for providing me the inspiration and for putting up with my ‘wibbling’. To my editors and pre-readers frozenpyro71, Dawn-Fade, Istalir, KaraSkakalac, and That Awesome Brony Guy, you have my thanks for slogging through the rough cuts and helping me polish this into something legible.
The following chapters will be out hopefully in a timely fashion, though that all depends on how much of a hash I make of the rough drafts. Thanks for reading.))