• Published 22nd Dec 2016
  • 286 Views, 18 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - The Hooves of Fate: The Coming Storm - Sprocket Doggingsworth


Rose Petal, a present day filly who sees the future in dreams and visions, gets a glimpse of Manehattan during turbulent times.

  • ...
4
 18
 286

The Coming Storm

Fallout: Equestria

HOOVES OF FATE

THE COMING STORM

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

― James Baldwin




There are dreams I never told anyone about. Dreams I never figured out the meaning of. Visions where I traveled all the way to Equestria's doomed future, but didn't get to help out at all. Not the teensiest, tiniest bit. I’ve been keeping them to myself for a while now. These kinds of dreams. ‘Cause I figure with all the crazy shadow business going on - that castle fucking with our lives; my friends and I, finally gearing up to strike back, and hit the bastards where it hurts; and the bomb always looming over us, and everything we do - I don't have the heart to burden anypony any further. Not when my stupid dream is just gonna bring them down.



But still, it gets to me sometimes.

I lay up late last night, obsessing over the Manehattan dream. Again. Staring at the ceiling. Staring at my notebook. Reliving it all in my head. But I think I'm finally starting to figure it out. That awful fate. What it might mean.

* * *

I start by falling forward into the future, like in my other dreams. Only I don't make it as far as the Big Boom - the megaspell that annihilates Equestria. My internal clock tells me it's about a decade before.

I find myself in Manehattan. The most teeming metropolis in the world. The place where ponies come from all around to try to make it big. I see the lights of Bridleway. Big buildings. Big images. Big sparkle. And hundreds of little shops on the ground floor of every last building.

I only see those for a second though. A sea of shoulders closes in, as ponies taller than me spill out into the streets. Everypony’s looking up, watching a magic projection flicker against the sides of those huge buildings.

It's footage of Princess Luna, dressed up in full military regalia, standing before a podium. Words scroll by underneath, but I can't see them. I'm too small. There are too many shoulders.

I try to push myself forward. To see what's going on. But all I can see is legs, and shoulders, and legs, and shoulders, and shoulders, and shoulders, and even more shoulders.

"Excuse me," I say.

But nopony replies.

I squeeze between two stallions in business suits. Try to maneuver myself to get a better view. But they close in even tighter. Even though I am right fucking there next to them. Yelling.

"Helloooo!" I holler. "Hello?! What's wrong with you?"

They just ignore me.

I turn around to try to figure out what's going on. See frightened faces. A billion of them. All flickering different colors, lit by those famous Bridleway lights.

Nopony acknowledges me. Until I spin around again to try to get another look at the projections, and find myself face-to-face with a little boy. Four years old, maybe five. He looks me right in the eye. So I kneel down to him. Whisper into his ear.

"What's happening?" I ask.

"Princess Celestia," the boy sniffles and heaves. He can barely catch his breath, he's so afraid. "Princess Celestia...isn't a princess anymore."

"What?! How?"

The kid shrugs and sniffles. "I thought princesses were s'posed to be forever."

Is all he says.

His mom bends her head down, and draws the colt closer, so he gets huddled firmly under her forelegs. She ignores me. Just like all the other grown ups.

"Hey!" I call to her, ‘cause I'm out of ideas. "Hey! Excuse me!"

I scream right in her face. But nothing. Not so much as a twitchitty ear. She’s just got this dead, ignoring-me-ish look in her eye.

"Mommy can't hear you." The little boy says abruptly, eyes still wet with tears over Princess Celestia.

"What's happening?" I press him.

"Otty says you don't have to save anypony this time." The kid sniffles, wipes his nose against his shirt, and holds up a stuffed otter plush. Otty. "He says you can't.”

"...Okaaay." I nod to Otty in horror. Wonder how the fuck this toy seems to know me. How he knows why I’ve been sent there. When not even the brain hornets - not even the Rose Voices are giving me a clue.

“‘You're just supposed to watch.’ Otty says."

"Watch?” I ask nervously. “Watch…what?"

The kid's mom ducks down to hug her son close to her. Sobs uncontrollably. He starts crying again too. That's when I finally get a good view of the projection.

It looks like one of those filmstrips they show in class, only no sound.

Princess Luna is still standing in front of that podium. Flashy, strobey camera lights go off in her face. I recognize six ponies from my home town standing there with her: Twilight Sparkle, Rarity, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Applejack, and Pinkie Pie. All wearing the Elements of Harmony. A show of strength.

But that's all I catch. The footage cuts off. Starts again from the beginning. Luna steps up to the podium, opens her speech. Words we cannot hear.

The scrolling text below lags behind. I catch only a few words from the end of the last cycle of the clip.

"...announces six Ministry Mares after Former Princess Celestia’s resignation." It says.

I can only presume the text is referring to the Ponyville six - the bearers of the Elements.

The little boy behind me wails. I spin around. The colt and his mother are embracing. Sobbing together. And Otty’s wedged right between them. The damn thing looks right at me with its cute button eyes.

* * *

That's when the crowd starts to mutter. To stomp. To yell. That's when I first hear the scream. A cry of pain!

I tense up. Listen for the source. At first, I can't find it. But the cry happens again. And again. And again. And again. Even through the noise of the angry ponies around me, I can hear it. The sound of somepony in trouble.

I squeeze my way out of the street, out of the crowd. Toward the crying. Or at least, I try to. The whole herd starts getting rowdy.

Everypony panics.

An earth pony scrambles around. Pushing and shoving his way toward the edge of the crowd. Trying to get away. A pack of unicorns looks up to the sun. Screams with fear. Waits to see if it's gonna fall.

The ground itself starts to shake with angry hoofstomps. The air fills with cries.

I scurry the hell away from everypony. Make for the sidewalk. I push, and climb, and struggle, but it’s no use at all. No one knows I'm there. No one gets out of my way. And when they bang into me, it really, really hurts. It seems almost hopeless to get fucking anywhere.

‘Till a loud, tinny voice suddenly comes down from above.

“Citizens of Manehattan," it says.

And the herd suddenly stops. Turns. Listens.

The voice belongs to an earth pony in a business suit, perched on a nearby balcony. A unicorn dressed all in black stands beside him, levitating a megaphone in front of his lips.

"Today is a truly tragic day for this city - for all of Equestria. Terrible." The pony in the suit shakes his head. "Just. Terrible. But I can assure you that we. Are. Prepared. And that we do have matters well in hoof."

The citizens calm down. At least a little bit. There’s still sobbing, and yelling, and all kinds of confusion. But they quit their stomping around, and their closing in on me. They focus on megaphone guy.

The police trot in. Put up little blue fences to help keep the sidewalk an easy escape for hoof traffic. In my head, I thank all of the princesses, and all of the fate-a-majigs. ‘Cause now I have a way to break loose.

I dart off the street, duck under one of the blue fences. Onto the sidewalk. I dodge and weave around ponies who can’t see or feel me. I zig, and I zag, and I leap. Until finally, I get to a building with a solid wall instead of a storefront display, and I press myself against it. Take a breath. Sigh a sigh of relief and silent gratitude.

But then that shriek of pain picks up again. “Aaahh! Aaahh! Aaahh!”

So I suck it up. I follow the sound.

* * *

It leads me down an alleyway. I break into a trot. Even though my nerves are frayed. ‘Cause those shrieks I'm hearing are loud. Urgent. Haunting.

When I get there, I see nothing special. The alleyway has fire escapes, and dumpsters, and crates, and the kind of sturdy metal doors that lead into the backs of those big city shops and restaurants.

But nopony around. Not ‘till I get much deeper in.

I charge forward. Follow the cries ‘till, at last, I find a filly on the ground. My age. Maybe a little younger. She’s clutching one ear, blood all over her hooves.

It's a zebra.

"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh," I kneel down beside her. "What happened?" I ask.

But of course she can't hear me. She's not like that creepy little colt with the otter friend.

Blood runs down the poor filly's face, and along her hoof. I notice that her good ear has a giant hoop earring, and figure out pretty quickly why the other ear is bleeding so badly.

"What the fuck?" I say to myself.

Then a door swings open, as if in reply, and out spills a grown zebra. The filly claps her hooves to her mouth. Stifles her cries. Presses herself behind a dumpster, so as not to be seen.

In the relative silence that follows, I hear only the din of the crowd, and the speech of the pony I can only presume is the mayor.

"Stripes!" He says. "It's those stripes who took our princess away."

The grown zebra looks around him. Panic-stricken. He's trying to figure out where his daughter's gone.

"They come here." The mayor continues. "The one city in all of Equestria willing to take them in. And what do they do? They steal our jobs. They pollute our culture! Our schools. Teach our Equestrian children to rhyme like witch doctors. And now this."

The zebra filly pokes her head out from behind the dumpster. Locks eyes with her father. His face says it all. Get down. Stay quiet. Stay hidden!

The girl crouches. Squeezes her eyes shut. Tries not to scream. Bites down on her multi-colored saddle bag to stifle her cries.

A teal pegasus mare in a denim jacket steps out into the alleyway. Glowers at the grown zebra.

"This is no joke, folks." The voice on the megaphone continues. "Those stripes bombed a school. A school!"

The silence between Denim Pegasus and the zebra is deafening. Each one stares the other down. Denim is much bigger. And the zebra knows he can't win, but still, he doesn’t budge.

"Stripes just can't be trusted." The mayor continues.

I hear smashing sounds coming from the other side of the door. And I wanna rush forward. To see what they're doing. To see if there are other attackers. To know if this zebra family has any chance at all.

But I'm too afraid for the girl. So I kneel down next to her. I talk to her. I put my hoof on her shoulder, even though I know she can't feel it.

“Hold on," I tell her. "Hold on."

'Cause she's fighting the urge to cry out loud. And I'm terrified that she might make a sound.

But her shoulders tighten. When I look down, I see that the girl is clenching her hooves in anger more than fear - resisting the urge to scrape them against the floor like a stomping wild pony.

“You leave my fucking store alone!" The father shouts, curses in a language I've never heard. Hoping to drown out any sound his daughter might make.

A rack of wooden masks spills out the back door. Then a box full of drums, and bottles, and ethnic knickknacks I can't identify. Two more ponies step out with it.

The grown zebra's eyes go wide.

Denim smiles at him. She thinks he’s afraid for the fight. And he is. He totally is. But he's only freaking out ‘cause of the girl. ‘Cause the more jerks there are out there in the alley with them, the greater the chance that his daughter will be spotted.

Zebra Dad’s legs start to tremble as the thugs close in around him. But he puffs out his chest. Stands up tall.

"You'll never find my money.” He says. “Not one jewel. Not one bit."

Then, poof! He darts off in the opposite direction. Away from his daughter. Deeper down the alleyway. Even though it's a dead-end. The three zebra-haters go after him.

The girl takes the opportunity. Runs away. Makes for the main street - Bridleway. I'm not sure the square is safe for her, but that's all she has. There's nowhere else to go.

I follow. Yell at her to stop. To slow down at least. To cover her stripes. But she just keeps running.

The herd on Bridleway is moving around now. Stomping again. Angry-like. Shouting.

The girl plunges her face into her saddle bag, whips a cloak out, and flings it over herself, all dexterous-like as she gallops. Once it's on, she sprints for the end of the alleyway. Almost gets there too. But skids to a halt all on her own just before the edge of the sidewalk. Freezes in horror at what she sees.

* * *

It's worse than I'd imagined. The mayor's up on his balcony. He's shouting now.

“You're not safe while even one zebra’s in our town. Your children aren't safe. We are not safe." He screams.

And the crowd howls in reply.

"...But we are damn well gonna be." The mayor growls, acid on his tongue. "’Cause we are gonna take Equestria back. For the Equestrians."

I hear voices cheering. Whinnying in anger.

Hooves stomping. Doom. Doom. Doom. Doom.

And in that moment, my heart sinks deep into my stomach. The whole world seems to suddenly stop. I wonder how any of this can be happening. How we could stray so far from who we used to be. Who we’re supposed to be. How the whole world could possibly be okay with any of this crazyness.

But when I look around at the ponies of Manehattan as individuals, all I see are frightened faces. When I look down at the asphalt, I see surprisingly few hooves stomping along. The guy in front of me even boos at the mayor - hollers obscenities - but it still just adds to the cacophonic howling of the crowd. In the heat of the moment, all anger sounds the same.




Then, out of nowhere, I hear a gasp. And everything stops for real. Thousands of panicked ponies scream in horror.

Somepony is dangling a zebra from a third story fire escape. Gripping him by the tail. The zebra's old and frail. He flails his stripey legs for purchase, but there's nothing to grab onto.

Nopony knows what to do. Everyone’s in shock. Even the mayor stops - watches in awe, surprised at how quickly it had all escalated - and waits to see what's gonna happen next.




The little zebra girl I’d followed - she backs away slowly. Careful not to make a sound. But not me. I scream. Because I can't stand just watching silently anymore. And I can't look away.

"Stop it! Stop it!" I shout. “Pull him back up! For Celestia's sake! Pull him back up!”

I yell and cry, and shriek.

But of course nopony listens. I'm just supposed to watch.

"You fucking asshole, stop it!" I scream again.

But it's as though I have no voice at all.

* * *

The zebra falls. And time seems to stand still as the old guy reaches out - grasps at the air.

A pink pegasus plunges down from a rooftop - darts to save the old guy. He comes from above, straight as an arrow, gritting his teeth. Reaching. Stretching his legs out forward as the old zebra drops.

He’s close to catching him too - real close - but it's a free fall, and they don’t have a lot of time. The pegasus reaches out, pushes himself harder- further - until wham! He crashes into the old guy in a clumsy sorta bear hug. They both keep falling. The pegasus scoops him up, and throws his wings outward to catch the air before they hit the ground.

Crash! He knocks into a trash can. Sweeps the sidewalk with his knees as the crowd scatters. Drags his own legs like a doll’s before managing to swing upwards. But he recovers. Just barely.

He flaps his wings. Floats above the crowd. Holding the old zebra. Panting. Looking terrified.

He starts to laugh. To sob. To cry tears of relief.

Then, out of nowhere, he gets hit in the eye with a rock.

“Zebra lover!” Yells an angry voice.

It's hard to tell who threw what, but in a matter of seconds, it doesn’t matter. The whole herd erupts into total chaos. Yelling. Screaming. Brawling.

A red-headed yellow unicorn starts hucking garbage at a tent with a multi-colored flag flying on top – a zebra street vendor. And other ponies start to charge after it too.

“Equestria for Equestrians!” They say. “Equestria for Equestrians! Equestria for Equestrians!”

And since it’s a loud chant - the most articulate words coming out of the crowd - it almost sounds like the whole city is yelling in support.

But they're not. Five ponies step in from out of nowhere to form a barricade around the zebra tent. They aren't big or tough or anything. Just ordinary folks. Scared out of their minds.

Hundreds more stampede. Yell and shout and shove one another all over the place, but it isn't all out of hate. Some yell out of fear. Trying to take cover. Calling for loved ones who'd gotten swept away.

Dozens more just plain throw themselves into the fray. Start kicking anyone at all who says the chant of the meanies. Equestria for Equestrians.

It becomes totally impossible to tell who's who. The whole square just becomes one giant pit of flailing hooves.

And up there on the mayor’s balcony is a closed door - an empty stage. The megaphone lies abandoned on the railing. The mayor has already made a quiet retreat.




Crack!

An earth pony a few feet from me knocks over one of those blue fences the police had just put up to help regulate the crowd. He's trying to get to the sidewalk - to safety, away from the riot. Others are doing the same.

But a police officer stops them. She whips out her club with her teeth, and just starts wailing on him.

“He was only trying to get to safety!” I yell.

‘Cause I'm shocked to see that kind of thing coming from Manehattan police. They're practically royal guards! You're supposed to be able to trust them. But they are panicking too. Just like everypony else. There are dozens of officers around, but not one of them rushes to help anypony. Not one!

They all just cluster together and hold that barrier. Brutalize anyone who tries to cross it. Some of the officers cry at the horror of what they're doing. Some hesitate. Some get really, really, really into it. But they all grab their clubs, either way. They stick together, and hold. That. Fence.

It's the only thing they seem to know how to do.

* * *

I back away. Feeling numb. Dead inside. I start to wonder if we - we ponies - as a race, are even worth saving at all.

Then I remember the zebra girl. And haul flank back down the alleyway after her.

I'm only a few seconds behind. Everything’d happened so quickly. But a few seconds is all it takes. I’ve already lost sight of her.

I gallop. And gallop. And gallop. And gallop. And gallop. ‘Till I get to the father. He's beaten and bloodied and struggling. Getting dragged back toward the store. I presume he's expected to show them where the imaginary money is.

The three jerks lift him up. Swing the big metal lid of the dumpster open, prop his foreleg there over the ledge, and get ready to bring the whole thing down and shatter his knee.

But they don't.

They stop. They look inside the dumpster. And mutter to one another. I don't know what they're saying, but the next thing I know, they've got the zebra girl in their grip. Squirming. Struggling.

“Ow!” One of them yells.

A purple earth pony throws her down, and steps on both her mane and tail, pinning her to the asphalt.

“She bit me.”

The father bucks and goes wild. Tries to throw himself free by sheer force of anger. But he's pinned firmly to the side of the dumpster.

"She's just a child!" He growls at them all through broken teeth. “She's just a child."

Wham! Denim Pegasus bangs on the dumpster. Leans in close, quaking with anger. With sorrow. She shoves her face right up to Zebra Dad, and screams in his ear.

“Luna’s school was full of children!" She snaps. "Full of children."

Tears are streaming down her cheeks. Her whole face flushes red. While the poor zebra cringes.

"And you fuckin’ stripes bombed it."




“Damn stripes!” Purple yells in agreement.

“Get off the filly.” Denim says, suddenly cold and quiet-like. She couldn't have been scarier had she yelled.

“What?”

“We’re not like them,” says Denim, eyes still fixed on Zebra Dad. “We don’t target children. Let her go.”

“I’m sorry.” Purple says.

He lifts his hoof up off the filly’s hair. And he looks super contrite about it too. Like, in the heat of all of this, he's actually worried about hurting Denim’s feelings.

Zebra Dad is still pinned to the side of the dumpster by the third jerk. But he lets out an enormous sigh of relief.

“Thank y--;”

“Shut up.” Denim says.

Jabs the zebra right in the ribs.

“You shut the fuck up.”

Dad squirms. But he doesn't say a word. Just struggles to stay upright on his hooves, and focuses on his breathing. It's clearly hard for him.

Denim Pegasus winds up for another punch. But I throw myself between them. I can't take it anymore.

“No!” I yell. “Stop. Enough!”

And I ram into Denim Pegasus. Hard. Right in her chest. I push her with all of my might. Out of desperation, I try to hold her back. But it's no use. Denim draws her forehoof, ready as ever to pound on the guy.

And suddenly, I find myself face to face with a pin on her jacket. A crest. I recognize it. It looks like the symbol for Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns. But there's a moon where the sun ought to be.

It's shiny and new, and way too small to belong to a grown-up.

I step back in shock. Her loss - her anger - her seething hatred for that poor zebra. It's not about speeches, or princesses, or ideas about what Equestria should be. It's personal.




The filly sidesteps down the alley. Hugs the wall opposite the dumpster. Tries to be stealthy. Tries to keep her distance.

But when she sees her father, beaten and weak like that, she yelps. Starts crying - pleading with the thug. She promises to get rid of the store. Promises to leave the city. Promises everything.

Before Denim can even respond, Dad speaks up.

“Go.” He says sternly. Struggles to catch his breath.

The girl just shakes her head ‘no.’ And stands there, crying.

“Bab là!” The father roars. The biggest, loudest voice he can muster.

And though I don't know what the hell Bab là means, I get the impression it's some kinda big deal.

‘Cause the filly’s eyes widen. And she runs away. Like she's been told.

* * *

Denim starts beating on Zebra Dad again. And I turn away. ‘Cause I can't bear to watch. I focus on the filly. Sprint after her like a racehorse with her tail on fire.

“Oh, no, oh, fuck, oh fuck, oh, fuck, oh, no, oh, fuck, oh, fuck, oh, no,” I say.

‘Cause she’s galloping toward Bridleway.

What the hell is she thinking? I say to myself. She can't be that stupid. She saw the mayor with her own eyes. She saw the crazy herd. The old stallion zebra dangling from the fire escape!

Still, the girl dashes ahead, throws that cloak on over herself, and zip! Swings left the very second she gets to the sidewalk. She doesn't even slow down to look at the carnage. Doesn't stop to figure out a plan, or map an escape route. She just runs.

By the time I catch up and get to the main sidewalk, there's no telling where she's gone. She seems to have just disappeared.

And I’m left standing there. Panicking. Freaking out.

“Damnit!” I yell.

I look all over the place for some sign of her - hiding spots, cloaky motion, stripes. Anything.

Stupidly, I call out to her, “Zebra Girl! Zebra Girl! Zebra Girl!”

‘Cause I don't know what else to do.




Then, out of nowhere, Shunk! A loud, booming sound comes from the alley behind me. Totally out of the blue.

I whip around. See Denim Pegasus lying motionless on the floor. A cast-iron ladder from one of the fire escapes hovers above her, having slid down it's rail, and knocked her out.

"Equestria is for everyone, ya friggin' mook." Shouts some unicorn teenager from above, levitating the ladder’s latch with her horn.

The two other zebra-haters leap backward in surprise. And without them to prop Dad up against the dumpster, he collapses to the floor in exhaustion.

Then one of those big steel doors swings open, and out rushes an old mare, face stained with icing, teeth gripping a rolling pin. Bam! She knocks out the hater who’d been pinning Zebra Dad to the dumpster a moment before. Down he goes.

Whoosh! Another neighbor throws a frying pan out the window. And konk! Takes out Purple.

The neighbor sticks her big blue head out the window. Makes sure that all three of the jerks are down. And the second she’s done taking count, zip! Back inside she goes. And whips the curtains shut behind her.

The old baker lady rushes to Zebra Dad’s side - tries to prop him up on her shoulder, but he yelps in pain, clutches his ribs, and collapses back down to the floor again. She’s way too small to carry him.

So she starts yelling. Hollering. Grimacing at the back door to her bakery. ‘Till a nervous-looking guy runs out of it. Covered in flour.

He tosses his head over each shoulder. Left. Right. All around. He chases himself in circles, worried about the danger. Terrified that somepony might see.

But he makes for Zebra Dad anyway. Props him up. Leads him limping toward the back door entrance of the family bakery.

And after all that, Zebra Dad stops short right in front of the door. Refuses to be lead inside. The baker panics. Waves one of his free hooves around, all frantic-like. 'Till the zebra raises a leg, and points in my direction. Toward Bridleway. Where his daughter had made her escape.

The baker stops. Listens. Tenses up. I can't see his face very well from where I stand, but when that stallion lifts his head up, and looks my way, his dread grows into an almost tangible thing.

A force.

* * *

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!”

The baker stallion says as he runs my way. Freaking out. Just like I did.

“Oh, no, oh, no, oh, no.” He goes on and on, panting.

But when he gets to the sidewalk, he falls silent. Skids to a halt just beside me. And stares at what's become of Manehattan.

Equestria for Equestrians! Equestria for Equestrians!” Shout voices from the rioting herd.

Hooves flail everywhere. Debris flies in all directions. Fires burn. The square is a pit of writhing bodies, kept at bay only by the police. And they’re no help. They're busy whomping on everypony who dares come near.

The baker’s complexion fades.

“Sweet Celestia.” He whispers to himself.

* * *

After a long understandable what the fuck moment of shock and fear, the Baker gets to work.

He takes off down the sidewalk. The way the girl had headed.

“Zinbe!” He calls out. “Zinbe!”

He looks under trashcan lids. In storefront windows. Apartment windows. Scans the crowd with frantic eyeballs.

But there are thousands of ponies around. And it’s all total insanity. Those fortunate enough to be on the sidewalk-end of the blue fence are scurrying. Trying to get away.

And on the square? It’s war in there.

“Oh, geez.” Says the baker. “Oh, geez.”

And continues to search the chaos, looking for some sign of her - anything at all.

“Zeeenbay!” He hollers. Runs a shaking hoof through his mane. “Ziinnbe, uh, Zeeen...Darnit, I can't even pronounce her name.”

He looks like he's gonna break down. Like he's gonna cry. But he doesn't. He spots something. Squints at something in the distance. And zips away into a hard gallop. Out of nowhere.

I follow. Hoping that he’s seen her. That he’d caught some sign of her. That there's still time to get her the fuck off of Bridleway.

In my head, I call on all of the fate-a-majigs - all the brain hornets. I throw my voice out into the cosmos. Out into the Great Ducky Void. A word of desperation. Like a message in a bottle.

Please let her be okay. Please let her be okay. Please let her be okay. Please. Let. Her. Be. Okay.

* * *

We get near where the baker had apparently been headed - the zebra vendor’s tent. It's on the other side of the blue fence, of course. And it is dead center of the worst of the crazy fighting. Of course.

The baker stops. Stares.

“Fuck!” He says. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!”




Haters are throwing garbage at the tent. Bystanders are scrambling to get away from it. The poles that hold the whole thing up are shaking and swaying.

The defenders dig in their hooves - fight to maintain their barricade o’ decency. Struggle to lend support to the tent’s poles as they give way. But they can't keep it up for long. Not with the Equestria for Equestrians crowd closing in.

“Oh, fucking hell!” Shouts the baker. “Zinbe! Zinbe!”

His voice cracks as he hollers.

And I feel my heart sink into my gut. ‘Cause I realize that the baker had never spotted the girl at all. That his only hope had been that he would get to talk to the tent zebra. That she and Zinbe might know each other. That she might be able to help him come up with a guess as to where Zinbe might be hiding.




We have no hope of finding her.




“She's all alone out here.” The baker says to himself, as he watches the streets swell with frantic motion.

It's like a pot of boiling water. I’d never seen so much concentrated violence in one place. I shudder to think of what would happen to Zinbe if those zebra-hating fuck muffins found her. But she’s not the only one in danger.

Crack! Right next to us, a unicorn slams into the fence. It's the same guy with the red hair who’d started hucking things at the zebra tent when the herd had first erupted. He’s still brawling. And his face is eleven different kinds of messed up.

Wham! He gets all entanglified with some earth pony or other. They tumble into that blue fence again, like some kinda weird ballet move gone totally wrong. But this time, they knock it over, and the fighting spills over onto the sidewalk.

Haters rush out. A lot of them. They storm their way around to the other side of the tent now that the fence is down.

“Equestria for Equestrians! Equestria for Equestrians! Equestria for Equestrians!” They chant.

The baker shrieks. Leaps up and grabs a lamp post.

At first, it seems like an overreaction. But two seconds later, I wish I had thought to do the same thing. ‘Cause ponies rush out everywhere. And another piece of the fence tips over.

Some folks try to flee the chaos. Some try to get closer to it. But all of them get to pushing and shoving and spilling out of the broken fence like floodwater. It's a fucking stampede.

I stand there on the sidewalk like a frightened squirrel, facing hundreds of panicked ponies who can not see me - ponies who could trample me to pudding, and never even know it.

The ground starts to rumble. I feel it in my hooves. And I finally snap the fuck out of my daze.

“Aaaieeee,” I shriek like a foal.

I dive. Throw myself against the side of the building nearest me. And hug it for dear life. ‘Cause I don’t wanna be pudding!

Thwack! I take a knee to the jaw.

Pow! Somepony's side grazes my nose.

Oomph! Thud! Crack! A barrage of miscellaneous blows I can't even identify. Pounding me down. Wearing me out.

I cry. I yell at them to “Stop it!” But of course they don't. They just keep coming,

It’s like being in the tunnels of Trottica all over again.

It takes everything I have not to get swept away. Not to get turned into Rose Pudding. I drift further along the building with every shove, ‘till eventually, I manage to grab a random door frame, and duck into it. It's only 8 inches deep, and not much to cling to, but it's still better than nothing.

I hold on tight. I get a firm grip. I take a safer posture - lean in as hard as I can. I’m only getting grazed now, if I'm careful. I start to get my bearings. Just a little. I start to plan again.

Then Thud!

Some pegasus falls out of the sky right in front of me. Thwacks me in the nose.

I look up. There's a whole other brawl going on up there.

“Oh, come on!” I shout.

Because even the damn skies aren't safe!

I start to get downright mad. So I focus on the crowd. Try to find the zebra girl in all the chaos. She’s got to be the way to get the stupid dream to end. ‘Cause I know she's the reason I am there in the first place.

I watch the herd stampede by, and like the Baker, I search desperately for a sign of her - any sign of her. But it's hopeless.

Instead, I smell fire. Fucking fire. And flashes of magic go off like fireworks as unicorns zap each other all over the place. They cast wild spells. They shoot beams of light. They try to levitate folks toward safety, only to get them knocked out of the air again by the great pegasus rumble above.




But of all the insanity going on around me - of all the violence, and panic, and bloodshed - the one thing that bothers me most is that fucking chant. Equestria for Equestrians.

The sound of it cuts through the chaos. Lends voice to the hateful.

“Equestria for Equestrians!” The herd yells. “Equestria for Equestrians!”

And each time I hear it, the fires smell worse - my cuts sting more - and the shoulders that knock into me weaken my will.

‘Cause the mayor had tapped into something. Something dark. Something sinister. Something worse than a mere stampede - a simple conflict - a moment of panic. His slogan struck the worst possible nerve with the proud, and the fearful.

In just five minutes, he’d exposed how fragile our perfect society really was - how fragile it had always been - how thin the string is that binds our civilization together - that keeps us ponies from becoming our own shadows.

“Equestria for Equestrians!” The herd chants. “Equestria for Equestrians!”

And with every new voice that joins in, I get this sinking feeling. This dread that the world will never, ever, ever again be any other way.

* * *

But then, suddenly, everything changes. Boom. Lightning strikes. Thunder roars. A small cluster of rain clouds – the darkest ones I've ever seen - collect and gather overhead. Like a hoofball team coming together for a huddle.

Next thing I know, it’s raining. Pouring. And I'm soaked to the bone within seconds.

"Oh, come on!" I shout again in frustration. Ready to give the fuck up.

But then I see that it’s not just me reacting that way. Two of the ponies who’d been writhing on the floor, kicking the crap out of each, suddenly just kinda...stop. They throw their hooves up to protect their faces from rain, rather than from kicks. They get up, and scatter.

I see the Equestria for Equestrians crowd, and the Equestria for Everyone crowd – ponies who’d been perfectly willing to kill one another just moments before - rushing to huddle under the same awnings. I see folks rushing to come together to prop up the crumbling zebra tent. Just ‘cause it's a source of shelter.

I step out of the door frame. The rain burns like ice. But I have to see for myself. I wander into the square, and I start laughing at ponies as they scurry for cover.

‘Cause it's all so insane. Something so petty. Something as simple as rain grinding it all to a halt. I laugh 'cause of the plain and simple fact that, no matter who you are, no matter what race - what belief - if you're an asshole determined to annihilate all zebras, or a terrified cop willing to brutalize other ponies out of fear and cowardice, or if you're some kinda spontaneous helpy pony, fighting the haters blind - there's still one thing that we all have in common. One thing we all share. Everyone fucking hates freezing rain.




That jerkface unicorn who’d started the crusade against the tent? All of a sudden, he finds himself huddling underneath it. He shivers, alongside the earth pony he’d been wrestling with a few moments before. Alongside a whole cluster of jerkfaces, and defenders, alike. And, of course, me.

The zebra merchant reaches out, and taps the Asshole Unicorn on the shoulder.

“Ahh!” He jumps back. Throws his hooves up to protect his face.

But the zebra just sticks out her hoof, and offers him a cup of hot Zimbabneigh coffee.

Asshole Unicorn blushes. Accepts it. Sulks. And sips it in morbid embarrassment. Pretending to be a stranger. But the tent zebra watches, smugly savors his discomfort, knowing damn well who he is, and what he’d done.

* * *

“Zinbe!” The baker shouts, and gallops away suddenly, all excited-like.

I leap out from under the tent, and follow him. ‘Cause this time he seems to be sure. I run through puddles. Past clusters of ponies who are wandering aimlessly in the rain, calling out names. Worried parents. Lost children. Friends and cousins, and lovers, and sisters. Looking for one another.

It breaks my heart a little. But still, I start to hope. I think of Zinbe, and I run, hoping that the zebra family is gonna be reunited - that everything's gonna be okay. At least for them.

We run, and run, and run. ‘Till at last, we find her. Back in the alleyway. Where it’d all started. All anti-climactical-like.

There's confusion, and distrust, and fear as she finds her father missing. There’s screaming, and accusations, and craziness as she finds Granny rummaging through her store for healing herbs. But that all gets sorted out when the baker breaks down and sobs with joy for her safety. Zinbe stops. Raises an eyebrow at him. If he's a zebra-hating thug, he's really, really, really, really, really bad at it.

Granny, seeing that Zinbe's stunned, seizes the opportunity to run out and open the back door to the bakery. To show her that they mean no harm. To show her that her dad is right there inside. Safe and sound.




“Zaza!” The girl weeps openly as she runs to his side.

And though he’s been beaten pretty badly, (and the jerry-rigged bandages on his ribs aren't going to let him roll over for a proper hug), the father reaches out his hoof. Carefully strokes her mane. Tears stream down his cheeks as well

“Zinbe.” His voice creaks. “Zinbe.

The father smiles. And the girl leans her head against his knee. Gentle. Careful not to jostle him.

“My little dancer.” He calls her. “You're safe. You're really safe.”

The old lady sweeps in, mouth full of burlap sacks - fragrant herbs - good and ready. And slam! Closes the door shut behind her swiftly. So no one else can see.

* * *

And that's it. That's what I'm supposed to watch. The door closes, leaving me out in the rain. And then I just sorta wake up.




I remember what it was like to find myself back in my warm, safe room. In my warm, cozy bed all of a sudden. That poster of Sapphire Shores staring at me with her sassiest look. I felt this horrible disconnect. Like none of it was real. Like everything around me - everything I thought I knew about Equestria – thought I'd loved – was really just a mask. A polite lie hiding an awful truth.

The notion haunts me.

Last night as I lay awake in bed, that disconnecty feeling came back. 'Cause I was thinking about Manehattan again. Sure, Zinbe's safety takes the edge off a little. 'Cause there's at least one happy ending. But what I saw of the riot still gets under my hide. 'Cause that vision - it was different from all the other Wastelandish stuff.

This wasn't some slave mine. These weren't the trenches of some war between factions that don't even exist yet. The future I saw in Manehattan - it was my future. My Equestria.

Broken.

That’s the thing that hurts the most to think about. But still, I replayed it in my head last night. 'Till I finally made some sense out of what I saw.

* * *

I did like I was taught. I thought back, and I concentrated, and I looked deep into my memories - relived the vision. I can't go back into that time and place. I can't do anything differently the second time around – but I can look. So I closed my eyes, and I dug deep - explored things that I'd missed the first time around.

I watch the square as the rain pours. And I see families reuniting. So many hugs. So many tears I'd overlooked before, as I'd run by. I also see those who didn't make it. The trampled. Lying face down in puddles. Ponies who'll never answer when their loved ones call their names.

I give them the moment of silence they deserve. I bow my head. And as I'm looking down into the puddles, it occurs to me for the first time to wonder how the rain had ever happened in the first place. I look up - study the storm clouds as they pile on harder, and harder, and harder. Congregating over Bridleway. I realize that they aren't simply drifting. They're assembling with purpose.

I look hard ‘till I notice figures flying way up above. Rounding the clouds up. Pegasi. Regular, ordinary pegasi. It's not some special squad of weather ponies, or Wonderbolts, or guards. It's just high school kids! Business ponies! Newspaper vendors! Children! I watch and wonder how it could have slipped by me before – how I hadn't even thought to question the rain. I think back to when the storm had first started. And it was just a hoof full of clouds.

Sweet Celestia, I whisper to myself. It couldn't have been more than two or three pegasi who’d started the whole storm!
They’d saved us all. And nopony down on the ground had even seemed to notice. At all. We were so busy running around, saving ourselves.




It gets me thinking. Wondering if the heroism of those pegasi will ever get reported. Or if it'll simply go unnoticed. Forgotten. Like that blue pony who’d dropped a frying pan on a zebra-hating jerk, only to disappear a moment later.

I stare up into the skies, and get all contemplatey. Hundreds of years from now, ponies are gonna look back, and dig up fragments of our truth out of scattered documents. If they find out about what happens in Manehattan, will they know that we resisted at all?!

The pink Pegasus who saved the falling zebra. The bakers. The pegasi. The dozens who fought to protect the tent. And the hundreds more who fought just to be heard. To say 'no,' to the hatred that they saw.

Will any of that be remembered? Or will Manehattan just go down in history as a city full of jerks?

* * *

I found it terrifying. And confusing. And strangely empowering. To realize that, while it's the princesses, and the mayors, and the "Ministry Mares" who take history by the reins, it's still the background ponies who actually define their times. Folks who are stuck living through it all. How we react. How we fight. If we fight. What we choose to fight for.

Our stories are almost never uncovered. We end up as numbers on the history book page, if we’re counted at all. But we still have our own battles going on as the world seems to tear itself apart. Millions of them. Conflicting narratives. Conflicting voices. Conflicting goals. Fighting for supremacy - The Story That Gets Told In The End.

Just think about how the Lightbringer, Littlepip, is eventually gonna piece together our history like a random collage of found documents and anecdotes. How the random reporting of her deeds is gonna be what turns the Wasteland upside down - gets it going in the right direction again. Just 'cause the timing's right.

Then there's our own ancient history. I look around Bridleway. Feel the icy pellets of rain against my hide. And I think of the Windigo, and the Founding Sisters, and the Fire of Friendship. We sit back by the fireplace every winter, and remember that story all hindsighty, where everything makes perfect sense, with its nice neat beginning, and its tumultuous middle, and it's nice neat little ending. But none of the folks who were actually there knew any of that. They just knew that their tribes were starving. And freezing. And desperate. The Founding Sisters were just as confused and clueless as the folks in riot-torn Manehattan. They couldn't have imagined a happy ending if they'd tried.

What I saw in that vision - what's gonna happen in Manehattan twenty some-odd years down the line - it's a clusterfuck of ponies trying to be heard. Trying to protect what they hold dear. Trying to survive.

It gets fucking complicated when all those voices, and all those struggles get mashed together. The history lessons that we pretend to learn of it after the fact? They're just our own values mirrored back at us. As we try to make sense of it all.

I'm not sure if I should feel uplifted by that epiphany, or just plain depressed.

* * *

The very last thing I saw last night while rediscovering the aftermath of the Manehattan riots - it's the place where I'd first started. Where I'd met Otty the Creepy Otter. That old projection against the tall, tall buildings - it's still cycling footage - flickering those same images in the rain: Princess Luna in military garb. Wearing that stern face. Showing the same readiness to lead.

But the text underneath it has changed since the riot had broken out. Some projectionist somewhere, in the heat of the moment, must have altered it. Another small act of rebellion.

Instead of subtitling the images, the panel just scrolls a message - the same six words again, and again, and again.
.

This is not who we are. This is not who we are. This is not who we are. This is not who we are.

It was hard to linger there. As the message and the footage strobed their reflections across puddles on the street. But I stood there. And I shivered. I held on as long as I could just so I could keep reading the text as it went by.

For some reason – a reason I can't put into words – that message made all the chaos in my head suddenly make sense. "This is not who we are."

I watched the projection for a good long while. Until the words scrambled, and went back to the original message. And I was left wondering if anyone had seen it but me.

Author's Note:

FOREWORD - The Coming Storm is a short story - events told by Rose Petal that I do consider HoF canon, but do not fit anywhere specifically into the timeline of the central story.  It's a vision she has, or will have, (depending on how you look at it), sometime after her current place in the story (Chapter 26), but before the ending of Hooves of Fate as a whole (which is still a long way off).

Regardless of whether or not you've read Hooves of Fate, you should still be able to follow what's going on here, (though you may miss a reference or two).

I hope you enjoy The Coming Storm.  I feel strongly that it’s one that needs to be told. (As a general warning and disclaimer, The Coming Storm is darker than Rose Petal’s usual adventures).



OTHER STUFF
Support: I have mouths to feed. I would very much appreciate any Patreon support that you can throw my way. That is if you want to. Seriously, no pressure. You're the best. :pinkie happy: Your enthusiasm and commentary is a big part of what keeps me writing.

Credit: Special thanks to Seraphem for putting up with me as I obsessed over 90 different edits of what was supposed to be a simple short story - a snapshot of a time and place. It ended up being way more complicated than I originally anticipated, and your input really helped this thing come together.

Comments ( 18 )

(Not sure how much commentary I'll have, I'm afraid; I'm in a bit of a hurry at present.)

Oh, hm, was the war ten years longer in this universe, or Littlehorn much earlier? Assuming that my memory isn't glitching here, but I'm pretty confident about it on this.

"The There are too many"
"There"?

"and it's tumultuous middle, and it's nice neat little "
"its" and "its"?

...Shouldn't the Foreword be at the beginning of the story?

They wouldn't let me put the foreword at the beginning. The story was originally rejected, and FIM insisted that all author's notes go in the slot designated for it.

7812887
Fixed "its." Can't find "There are too many."

I suppose it would make more sense to ditch the word "Foreword," even though it was originally intended to be read first.

Thanks!

7812887 No, the timeline is the same as base FOE. Hell he's got ME acting as his editorial whipping boy and, yeah like I'd let something alter FOE canon:derpytongue2:

The war started ~ 10 years after the show, well at least ten years or so after season 2-ish, it lasted ~ 20 years, with Littlehorn taking place about halfway through.

Why are you making a sequel if you didn't finish the first story?

Shouldn't you wait until the previous story is finished before starting this one?

7813023 7813035
It's not really a 'sequel' so much as a sidestory. Do note it's marked as complete. Just a quick one shot that's in canon with the main story, but doesn't really fit well as part of the main narrative flow.

Okay, this is interesting. You have my attention.

7812890
...Huh. That's odd. Maybe put it in a quote, instead of an author's note?

7812894
Oh, are you the author who looks for things manually? If so, sorry for forgetting.
"It's footage of Princess Luna, dressed up in full military regalia, standing before a podium. Words scroll by underneath, but I can't see them. I'm too small. The There are too many shoulders.
I try to push myself forward. To see what's going on. But all I can see is legs, and shoulders, and legs, and shoulders, and shoulders, and shoulders, and even more shoulders."

Well, if you don't move it, probably, and perhaps reformat a bit for its current position. Or change the heading to something indicating it was mean to be a foreword, perhaps.

You're welcome!

7812936
Ah, then you've got a significant typo:
"Only I don't make it as far as the Big Boom - the megaspell that annihilates Equestria. My internal clock tells me it's about two decades before."
Two decades before the end of the twenty-year war would be, well, not the middle of it. :)

7813568 Ohhhhh.. how the hell did we miss that one.....

7814168
Don't know, I'm afraid, but these things do happen.

7813035

As I mentioned in my blog, and in the author's notes, this is a side story that takes place further along in Rose's timeline than the current point in the larger story. I actually originally wrote a foreword at the top of the story to avoid confusion, but the FimFic admins made me change it for formatting consistency.

Author's Notes only go on the bottom.

:heart:

That ending was beautiful. And the story had one hell of an emotional wallop. The message is a particularly timely one.

I was particularly moved by the dichotomy of the individual actions versus the way things looked when taken as a whole. I really loved how you tied it into Hearth's Warming Eve.

You write Fallout: Equestria and explore the themes and lessons in it amazingly well. As always, I am both in awe and in your debt. Thank you!

:twilightsmile:

Good stuff!

Deeply touching and very interesting, as always. I'm patiently impatiently waiting for new chapters of the main story.

Ugh i wish i was better at the whole leaving good comments thing

I got into this late but shows that Dogging still cares. I belive that mentationing of his Pathreon in a new chapter would help getting dat moneh.

This story makes me wonder if we'll see some more hero progression in the main HoF, like stripping Petal to something that could heal her up while she gets hit in the timeline she visits. Like purges hellish ammounts of radiation while she keeps exposing herself to it. I also think she cannot sufficate when beeing away because her body still hangs around and brethes in the orginal timeline.

But the text underneath it has changed since the riot had broken out. Some projectionist somewhere, in the heat of the moment, must have altered it. Another small act of rebellion.

Instead of subtitling the images, the panel just scrolls a message - the same six words again, and again, and again.

This is not who we are. This is not who we are. This is not who we are. This is not who we are.

orig09.deviantart.net/662f/f/2016/018/0/8/avatar___my_little_pony___watch_dogs__rainbow_dash_by_zombie_kss-d9oh2qa.jpg

7874912

Is that an anarchist Rainbow Dash?

7892259 No, a hacker RD. The clothes are from the Watch Dogs game.
Anarchists would actually have purely black clothes, the @narchy sign and red-black flags.
upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0c/Anarchist_flag_with_A_symbol.svg/1000px-Anarchist_flag_with_A_symbol.svg.png

It's kindda a jab at the hackers who put the "it's not who we are" on the billboards.

7813352 I guess you're reading (or have read) the main story then?

Login or register to comment