• Published 15th Sep 2013
  • 968 Views, 10 Comments

Fallout Equestria: Roadside Stories - Kervin



In a tole of woe and tragedy, a pony must cope with the harshness of the Wasteland while learning to accept friendship into his heart for the first time.

  • ...
6
 10
 968

The Paths We Take

Fallout: Equestria - Roadside Stories

Chapter One: The Paths We Take

"Not sure where I’m going. But I hope it’s towards you."

Stories.

A good story is like a good meal, precious and warm. When you consume it, you are utterly engrossed in it. You keep finding these little things that you so very much like about it. Little flavors here and there, the right word in the right place.

On the other hand, a bad story is like a terrible meal, which - considering we all live in the Wasteland - I’ll assume you’ve had plenty of. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth and a terrible agony in the mind. It does not leave room to contemplate, nor does it leave room for a message. It does not taste good in the slightest, but you just might need it to survive. Stories are what binds us, connects us, and - ultimately - they are what keep us going even in the dead of the cold, dark night.

Every pony that has ever lived has heard a story. Every dragon and zebra and griffon has, as well.

When you’ve been to the places I’ve been to, and you’ve traveled the roads that I have, you hear a lot of stories. Many of them are good, but most of them are bad. Some are well known, like the tale of the Stable Dweller and her entourage. Most - the vast majority of the good tales - are not.

But once in a blue moon, when fate’s being kind to you, perhaps you might stumble into a story yourself. And if fate’s really being kind, then that might be a good story.

Let me tell you one such story, my little ponies.

It is the story of loss, dread, regret, guilt, suffering, and tragedy. Yet, at the same time, it is also a story of hope borne from all of those negative feelings. At the same time, it is a story of kindness, of loyalty, of honesty, of generosity, of laughter, and of friendship. At the same time… it is a story you have heard before and will hear countless times in the future.

At the same time, this story is, was, and will be you.

Are you ready, my little ponies?

It happened years ago, but I still remember it like the back of my hoof...

*** *** ***

“Dammit!”

I was pinned down, bullets chipping away at the concrete piece of rubble that I had so perniciously managed to hide behind. Checking my gun for ammo, I realized that I only had a few bullets left in the revolver. Four, to be exact.

The revolver - incidentally, a store-bought one that I’d gotten at New Pegas, so it wasn’t some shite pistol that I just looted off a bandit, no siree - was being held in the grip of my teeth. I was surprised with the clarity of my voice despite the trigger obstructing my mouth. Though, the only thing that my voice was really useful for right now was cursing.

At a break in the action, I heard my attackers reloading their weapons. I dared a peak to see just exactly what sort of trouble I’d managed to arouse from the dangerous underbelly of the world known as the Equestrian Wasteland. Raiders, three of them.

Oh, that was wonderful.

The three of them were packing heat. The one in the middle, in particular - a rose-colored unicorn mare with blue eyes - was floating an assault rifle in front of her with her magic. The bright blue color surrounding the gun illuminated her in the darkness. She was flanked by two earth ponies, both holding pistols in their mouths.

Now, I don’t know about you, but normally, I don’t like to tangle with raiders very often. In a Wasteland filled with monsters, these are the lowest and most rabid form of sickos that you can find. Rapists, murderers, cannibals. They’re just such a lovely bunch.

They wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t so dangerous, I thought to myself sarcastically.

I grunted (which was more difficult than you’d think, having to hold on to a gun in your mouth; in fact, it almost slipped out of my teeth), before I took advantage of their current state of reloading. I ducked out of my cover, attempting to aim at the unicorn in the middle, who I had deemed was the largest threat at the time. I fired off two shots.

I missed the unicorn! However, fate was kind enough that at least one of the bullets had dug itself into one of her fellow raiders, hitting him in the neck, and splaying his vocal cords on his comrades. The stallion fell to the ground, grasping at his neck with his forehooves, but his eyes rolled back into his head quickly as he perished. Blood now covered the remaining two raiders and they resumed firing at me, the looks in their eyes becoming even more violent than they were before.

I retreated back into cover, my heart pounding. I let out a breath in relief that I had not been shot, but as I surveyed the situation, I soon came to the realization that I was in no better shape than I was before. If I had managed to get at the unicorn, then I would have eliminated the fully-automatic volley of bullets that was the cause of my consternation.

I looked around for something, anything. Unfortunately, fate was not being very kind this time. I had been traveling down the road to Junction R-7 for the past few hours, looking to trade with the griffons for more ammo and supplies. Having recently just completed a few odd jobs in New Appleloosa for Ditzy Doo and receiving ample payment, I’d needed a change in scenery, despite both towns effectively being constructed out of scrap metal.

As a side note, I can’t help but mention that it was extremely interesting working with Ditzy (or Derpy, as many call her). She’s quite a popular figure in the Moohave, after all, and she even has a whole damn casino named after her in Slimm. She helped me out quite a lot in my stay at New Appleloosa, actually, and I might even be tempted to call her a friend. Not that I have many of those. Still, it’s nice to know that ponies like Ditzy Doo still exist out in the Wasteland.

On the way to Junction R-7, it had been so very much clearly decided by these three (now two, thanks to me) nice ponies that it would be a grand idea to start shooting at me and looting my corpse. Maybe they were even planning on eating me. After getting spooked for a bit by the sudden ringing of bullets in my ear (I was eternally thankful that raiders are absolutely terrible shots), I rushed myself into the remains of a pre-war house on the side of the road.

I’d wasted an unnecessarily large amount of my revolver’s ammunition in trying to suppress the raiders’ initial volleys of fire, which was a huge part of the reason why I was so low on ammo. The other part mainly revolved around Ditzy Doo’s store simply lacking the ammo caliber that my revolver was chambered for. Hence, Junction R-7. So, mostly, I was stuck in this situation because of my stupidity. Figures.

Anyway, the house was a bust. The roof was missing and the second floor was basically gone, save for portions of the upper floor. If I was unicorn, I might have been able to float some of the wreckage and hurl it at my assailants. Alas, I was an earth pony, so such acts were not in the cards for me. Then again, the cards are hardly ever in my favor. My trips to New Pegas and Dise were proof enough of that. I’m never getting those caps back…

The shooting stopped once again, but instead of the sound of magazines clicking into guns, I heard the sounds of hooves hitting the ground in very quick succession.

They were rushing towards me!

Quickly, I positioned myself so that my rear was facing the hole in the wall. Luckily, this was the only real discernable entrance to the adobe (though it’s not like I really expected raiders to be smart enough to do something other than rush blindly forward). I bucked up my hindlegs in anticipation of their arrival.

The unicorn mare rushed in first, quickly facing me and floating her assault rifle high above her head, illuminating the darkened house with the sickly blue glow of her magic. Unfortunately, she never got her wish of turning me into swiss cheese because I bucked her so hard that she flew across the room and shattering what had once been a coffee table. As I struck her with my back hooves, I could hear the bones in her chest crack. I must have broken a few ribs.

It does pay to be an earth pony at times.

The unicorn mare wasn’t dead yet, but she was definitely out of the fight. I saw her eyes flutter closed and her assault rifle landed on her chest, which did not help any. She was unconscious.

The earth pony stallion rushed in next, but he was surprised enough at the sight of his leader’s unconscious form that I was able to quickly press my revolver right up against his muzzle. In less than a second, the top of his head exploded in gore, splashing blood over the ceiling.

Breathing heavily, I sat down. My brow was sweaty. Incredibly sweaty. I wiped the sweat from my brow with the back of my hoof. I was lucky this time. Fighting with raiders usually doesn’t happen this cleanly.

I trotted over to the unicorn mare, briefly glancing at her cutie mark. Two rifles crossed in an X shape. It was strangely peculiar to me at the time. Raiders usually didn’t have cutie marks like that. Perhaps a splash of gore or a skull or something similar. This looked more like the cutie mark of a mercenary or perhaps a bounty hunter.

Looking her over more, I came to the abrupt realization that this was no ordinary raider. For one, she looked relatively well-maintained. Her red coat was dirty, but it was no more so than any other resident of the Wasteland. Her white-blue mane was similarly of the same constitution. Further prodding revealed that her raider barding was more of a costume than an attempt at stopping bullets. This I had deduced from the amounts of armor that she had hidden beneath the raider gear, which was designed to protect her. Hell, even the assault rifle was way better maintained than a raider’s. I think it was actually in better shape than my revolver.

Also, I should probably mention that the unicorn mare was ever so slightly very attractive.

The only logical thing to deduce from this information was that this was probably the leader of the local raiders bands. And such a figure would probably be worth a lot to ponies, especially the traders who had been traveling the path between New Appleloosa and Junction R-7…

The slightest indications of a smile began to creep up on my mouth, still holding my revolver. I placed the revolver back in my pack, before beginning to strip search all of the raiders for any gear. As is normal for raiders, they didn’t have much on them. I grabbed their guns on the off chance that I could use them to repair my revolver if it ever ends up in disrepair. Their “armor” was basically worthless. They only had about 50 or so caps between them, the majority coming from the unicorn mare. I grabbed the assault rifle and slung it over my back - that was certainly going to come in handy - as well as all assorted ammunition.

I took off all of the armor from the mare. Jury-rigging some fasteners from the armored parts of her outfit, I tied both pairs of her legs for the journey to Junction R-7. I could easily carry her on my back the whole way, and with the amount of broken bones I gave her, I seriously doubted her ability to fight back. I was less than an hour away now…

*** *** ***

You may have concluded by this point - as early as it is - that I have no real qualms about killing hostile ponies. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, but I’ve been travelling the Wastes for my entire life. Killing was part of the game, and I’d like to think that I was playing the game decently. Killing… was part of life. I’d accepted that a long time ago.

Now, this didn’t mean that I shot through all of my problems. Oh no, it didn’t. I’d gotten into a lot of trouble in the past, and a lot of that trouble came to me as a result of refusing to kill. A hired gun (which I had been plenty of times in the past) that refused to kill ponies was something of a misnomer. I didn’t kill innocent ponies, or even defenseless ones. Raiders, though? They were fair game. No more than radigators, they were.

Junction R-7 was getting busier and busier. I remember when it was simply a Talon encampment for Gawdyna Grimfeathers and her Talon company. Now, every time I’ve been here for the past few months, it seems like more and more people have decided to take up living there. It definitely wasn’t because of Gawdyna who, goodness knows, isn’t exactly the most welcoming of griffons. Still, things have been shaping up in this region ever since Deadeyes got himself killed.

Junction R-7 was an old railway station. Griffons and ponies milled around in the center, with train cars being used as makeshift homes. Coming into the left, I saw a contingent of griffons in the sky. They landed in the center of town, laughing, obviously having just completed a mission. They headed to Gawd’s office to collect their reward.

Gawd’s office was where I was heading, too. The raider mare on my back had stayed unconscious for the better part of an hour, so I assumed she’d be unconscious for quite a bit more time. My pounding of her chest didn’t exactly give her heart much room to breathe, but I seriously doubted that it was fatal.

Entering Gawd’s office, I was greeted by bumping into the griffons that had entered previously. Their expressions had soured and they did nothing but scowl at me as they shuffled out of the boxcar. I raised an eyebrow at this, suspecting that something had gone to shite following their meeting with Gawd.

Gawd herself was looking pretty soured, but she looked pretty much the same as usual. Her energy shotgun was in her holster and a large, jagged scar ran its way up her left eye (or what was her left eye). She was hunched over her computer terminal, her face in her talons. The light of the terminal cast a sickly green glow on Gawd’s face, which seemed strangely appropriate for the current situation.

I trotted up closer, before clearing my throat.

“Evening, Gawd.”

She looked up, before rolling her eyes. “Roadside,” she said, saying my name out loud as I had said hers. She looked at the pony splayed across my back before smirking. “You finally fell off the wagon?”

I smirked in return. “Nope, but I did manage to secure one highly curious unicorn raider.” I layed her down on the floor, where she moaned unconsciously. “I fought her and some raiders on the way here. Better armor than most raiders and a really good assault rifle. I figured she was probably the leader of one of the local raider bands and would fetch a nice price.”

Gawd looked her over, her eyes narrowing. “I recognize her.”

That didn’t surprise me. “Mind sharing the details?”

She didn’t face me, but kept looking at the unicorn mare. “She was one of the raiders stationed at Shattered Hoof before my Talons took over it. A number of them managed to escape before we took them under our wing. She was one of Deadeyes’ lieutenants.”

I crossed my forelegs. “So, she was one of the ones that escaped? Probably formed her own band of raiders and everything.”

“Seems so,” Gawd said, before smirking at me. “I’d heard rumors very recently of a new group of raiders attacking caravans heading out of New Appleloosa. I’d bet caps that she’s a part of it, if not the leader, as you said.” She looked at me. “Someone actually contracted us to eliminate them.”

A smile crept up to my face. “Really?”

Gawd rolled her eyes, before reaching into a pouch on her armor. She threw me a smaller pouch filled with bottle caps. “There’s the reward. You earned your keep fair and square, Roadside. But no more than that. Be lucky that I’m extending this courtesy to you; you’re not even one of my Talons.”

I chuckled, before throwing the pouch into my saddlebags. “Much obliged, Gawd.” I knew how she hated being in debt. My eyes wandered down to the unicorn mare. “What are you going to do with her?”

“Rehabilitation,” she said simply. “If she refuses to join up with us and would rather prefer to prey on innocent ponies… well, you know what we do to the honorless.”

I grunted, remembering the first time I’d encountered Gawd and her Talons. It wasn’t the prettiest sight in the world. “Right,” I replied. “The fear of Gawd.”

Gawd smiled crookedly at me. “But hopefully it won’t come to that.”

I spent the rest of my stay in Gawd’s office telling her about my encounter with the raiders, detailing how I’d managed to take the three of them out. Gawd, for her part, told me about the recent adventure she had with helping the Stable Dweller reclaim her Stable near Ponyville. Something about Steel Rangers.

After that little back-and-forth, I bid farewell to Gawd.

*** *** ***

My next stop was the Junction R-7 goods dealer. The unicorn mare had fetched a nice enough price and I had more than enough bottle caps to buy plenty of ammo for my newly acquired assault rifle and my revolver. The shopkeeper, a griffon by the name of Maroney, was a nice enough fellow. His feathers had grayed and he had more than a couple of wrinkles around the eyes, but he was still intimidating enough that you knew he could shred you with his talons if he really wanted to.

“I haven’t seen a revolver model like that before,” he commented as I slipped five new shiny (well, not exactly shiny) bullets into my gun. “Where’d you get that thing, Hoofington?”

“Nah,” I said, making a mental note to travel to Hoofington at some point. “New Pegas.”

New Pegas… a city out in the Moohave. Gambling, crime, and corruption galore. Everything from splintered factions and the mysterious loss of money from my pockets. There were times when I was in that city that I couldn’t tell if I was in Dise or not. Tenpony Tower, New Pegas was not.

My reply was cause enough for the griffon to chuckle. “Figures. Lotsa cowbucks down in those parts.”

“You ever been there?” I asked.

“Once,” he said, looking up at the ever-cloudy sky in wistfulness. “I lost all my caps, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t mention that it was the most fun that I’d ever had.” He smiled crookedly, similar to how Gawd had smiled at me earlier. Griffons tended to do that. It was probably because of the beak.

I smiled back. “Sounds familiar.” I had indeed lost a lot of my caps in New Pegas (and Dise, too). Remind me to tell you that story at some point; it was fun, even if it was life-threatening.

He looked around at his ammo stock, seeing that he still had plenty of ammo for my revolver. “Not a lot of guns use the same caliber as your revolver there. I’ve had those bullets in stock for a long time.”

Hmm. I looked the revolver over. I knew there was something different about the gun. It was a mostly sleek silver, with a black matte handle. The muzzle of the gun was elongated, which I suspected increased its accuracy. My purchase of the gun had been relatively recent, no more than a month or so prior. I’d bought the gun after a stint went bad in New Pegas (mostly because I needed somewhere to dump the… not exactly legally acquired money I’d received, and I figured a really expensive gun would do the trick) and I hightailed it to New Appleloosa as fast as I could which, considering the geographic difference, took weeks worth of jumping from trade caravan to trade caravan working as a guard. That was how I’d met up Ditzy Doo.

I’d only ever used the gun a couple of times in the past. Most of them were with dealing with the various kinds of monstrosities that the Equestrian Wasteland decided to throw at me. It was only some of the time that I had decided to shoot ponies with it. I figured that I’d killed less than five ponies with the thing, if that. The gun was good, I’d give it that. Most of the things I’d killed with it were with one shot. So, even though I was terrible at aiming these things with my mouth, I could rest easy that anything that I hit was down permanently.

“You should give it a name.”

“Hmm?” I looked up at Maroney in confusion.

“A name,” he repeated, a smile present on his beaked face. “I’ve seen a lot of guns in my time, kid. If there’s one thing I learned from all that time of selling and buying guns, it’s that people have a tendency to get attached.”

“A name, huh?” I started to smile, too, as I looked at the revolver. “Yeah, I think it does need a name, doesn’t it?”

“I’ll leave the details up to you, kid,” he said, guffawing.

“So, can I interest you in some mines?”

After confirming that I was, indeed, not interested in purchasing any mines, I bought some health potions along with some more basic supplies.

I trotted over to the local tavern/inn (contained in a double-decker train car), which was bustling with ponies and griffons. Groups formed around tables and Gawd’s Talons were talking about their recent contracts and which one of them had managed to kill who and what. I went over to the bar and took a seat.

The bartender unicorn approached me. “What’ll it be?” he asked.

“Sparkle-Cola.”

He nodded before floating over a 200 year old bottle of the best-tasting irradiated poison in the whole of the Equestrian Wasteland. I know there’s some contention about whether Sunrise Sarsaparilla was better, but to me, there was no such thing as contention. I tossed him a couple of caps before I popped the bottle open. I started devouring the cola greedily. I was dog-tired by this point, not just from the raider attack but from the hours-long journey I had to endure to get there.

Before I could enjoy my drink any further, the tavern doors opened. No one cared enough to look at who showed up, but I did. My eyes drifted over to the doors lazily. An earth pony slipped inside; a big, strong one. His coat was a dull grey and his mane was cut short in a sort of buzzcut. His eyes seemed to glow red, which certainly didn’t detract from his intimidating appearance.

He was an older pony, too, probably middle-aged. I think I had seen this pony around here before, though I don’t believe that he was one of Gawd’s ponies. He wore a battle saddle that obscured his cutie mark, with twin rifles on both sides of his figure.

He trotted over to the bar, close to me. For a second, I thought the chair that he sat upon might buckle under him, being a huge mass of muscle that he was. He ordered a Sparkle-Cola, same as me. At some point, he might have caught me looking at him, because he turned his head to face me.

“You starin’ at me for a reason, son?” he asked.

“Oh, uh, no?” I said. There’s me being stupid again. “I mean, no, not really.”

“Good,” he said. “Don’t give me a reason to skewer your ass.”

I gulped, not doubting his capability to do just that in the slightest. I could see the unicorn at the counter rolling his eyes, before floating over a Sparkle-Cola for the earth pony. “Give Roadside a break, Kerosene.”

His name was Kerosene? I’d heard worse, but that name just conjured up images of him burning me to death while maintaining that strangely pervasive solemn look in his eyes.

Kerosene grunted, before facing away from me, back at the counter. I looked at the bartender in confusion. He returned my look with sympathy. “Kerosene’s a bit of a hardass,” he told me. “You get used to him, though.”

A bit? I thought to myself. Sure. A bit.

“Who is he, anyway?” I asked him, whispering.

“Mercenary. Has kind of a strained relationship with Gawd. Rumor has it that he used to be part of the Talons, but that was a long time ago. Right now, he’s running his own mercenary company. I think they’re looking for new recruits.”

“Are him and his company trustworthy?”

He shrugged. “Gawd seems to trust them. And Gawd’s trust doesn’t come easily.”

I didn’t spend any more time at the bar and I told the bartender that I wanted to stay the night. After paying him the requisite amount of caps, I trotted upstairs and entered the room. By upstairs, of course, I meant the second level of the train car, which had been converted into the local inn for stopperbys. After unloading all my gear, I plopped down on the bed, exhausted from the day’s escapades.

Pulling out the revolver from my pack with my teeth, I placed it in my hooves. Looking at it, I was having a hard time thinking of a name. Damn you, Maroney, I thought. You’re going to keep me up all night with this, aren’t you?

I was actually wrong that time, because at some point, I managed to drift away to sleep.

*** *** ***

“Your name is Roadside, right?”

“Yes, my name’s Roadside.”

“Did you have a good night’s sleep?”

“Yes. Yes, I did. Not that it’s any of your business.”

“Good. Because I want you to join my mercenary company.”

I almost coughed out the iguana sticks I was eating for breakfast. I stared at Kerosene, not believing what my ears were hearing.

“What?” I managed to get out.

Kerosene - who still had that extremely serious expression on his face (which looked comical at that moment, to me) - looked at me expectantly. “I talked to Gawd last night. She told me that you know how to hold your own in a fight.”

“Well, yeah,” I answered. “We live in the Celestia-damned Equestrian Wasteland. Of course, I know how to handle myself in a fight. But I’m nothing special!”

“Yet, you took three relatively well-equipped raiders on by yourself with only one gun and managed to take the leader alive. With broken ribs, from what I saw. And from what I’ve heard, you’ve done this sort of thing before. Repeatedly.”

“Yes, but…” Oh boy, did this situation feel ever so familiar. People trying to get me to join their little clubs was never a good thing. That was how I’d gotten in so much trouble in Pegas. I cursed Gawd silently for putting me in this position. “Look, I’m not interested.”

I saw Kerosene furrowing his brow. He was obviously not used to ponies denying his requests. “You’ll get paid a lot.”

“Okay, bu-” I stopped myself. I knew I’d regret it, but I stopped myself. “... how much?”

He told me how much.

It was a lot.

I gulped, knowing that I would never live this down. “How many are in your company?”

The slightest hint of a smile began to creep up on Kerosene’s face, and I knew that he knew that he had won this verbal battle. “Twelve. With you, it would be thirteen.”

Lucky thirteen, I thought. The caps were really tempting and it wasn’t like there was a large amount of work being offered to me right now. I could start doing some hired gun work for Gawd, but I knew that I’d be doing the same thing for much less pay. Though, for just a second, I wondered where exactly he was getting all of these caps.

I expressed my concern to him. “So, who’s paying you that you can afford to give me a salary like that?”

“Some rich folk up in Tenpony Tower. I don’t ask for details, kid, especially if the money’s good.”

Tenpony Tower. Okay, I could buy that.

I sighed, before extending my hoof. A smile now present on Kerosene’s face, he shook my hoof vigorously. I thought he’d sprain my foreleg.

It was a short time later that I was walking next to Kerosene around the “streets” of Junction R-7, which were really just pathways carved between the makeshift train car homes.

“What’s the job, anyway?” I asked.

“Security,” he said. “Somepony from Tenpony wants us to guard her caravan. We’re supposed to escort her to her location.”

Okay. Sounded simple enough. “Where’s she going?”

Kerosene nickered. “Don’t know, and I don’t care enough to know. The money’s good enough that I shouldn’t care. And she’s already paid us half of it.”

“If you say so.”

I had a bad feeling about this contract. But caps were caps, and you weren’t always liable to find them. Especially if you spent a lot of time in casinos, as I had so foolishly done before.

“Come on,” Kerosene said. “I’ll introduce you to the rest of the company.”

Footnote: Level Up
New Perk: Rapid Learner -- +10% XP whenever XP is earned

Author's Note:

As this is my first story, any sort of feedback is much appreciated.