• Published 4th Apr 2013
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Fallout: Equestria - Gaia Prevails - John Colt



The Wastelands! Where everyone is his special kind of crazy. I can, however, claim that I'm special! Nightmare freaking Moon wants me to be her new host. Umm... fun stuff...

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Chapter Twenty: Reality

Chapter Twenty

Reality



I can’t believe I’m weaving a basket. It’s a mundane, repetitive work, that would make anyyone a psychopath, and considering it was Dahlia sitting next to me, making her own, the psychopath/basketweaving-connection only intensified.

“It’s relaxing work, isn’t it?” Dahlia said with a content tone.

“I was under the impression you’d want to have tea with me.” In contrast to hers, my tone was pissed off. I just realized I had messed up and have to redo one round if I wanted it flawless. Inside of me there was a fight between my perfectionism and apathy. “And no, it isn’t…” Perfectionism won and I undid the work of the last ten minutes.

“But we are having tea.” She gestured to the hot beverage. “I had already guessed that basket weaving wouldn’t fit you. You’re a fighter, not a craftsmare.” It took me longer than I’d like to admit to realize what she meant with ‘craftsmare’. “But I thought you might enjoy a little change, that you might appreciate doing something else for a change.”

I was a fighter in her eyes? Well, I guess when she thinks I‘m her goddess, or at least carry her goddess inside of me I had to be. “I’d consider myself a scientist.” My strategy was that I say no to everything she said, did or assumed in hopes of ruining her plans for me. Then again, she also might see through that and reverse her tactic, so the only thing left to do was to be honest to a certain degree.

“A scientist, really? Excuse me for sounding creepy,” You’re not excused. “but I have received your background from the wyvern. The learning phase in Stable Eight and your work as a computer scientist were only your profession, Miss Aideen. Forgive me again, but I also came to know what else you had to go through, and the fact you are still here makes you a fighter. Don’t think any less of yourself.” I’d appreciate that encouragement from anyone, except her.

“Any less?” I repeated. “A scientist is better than a vile fighter. I do not fight, I search for a way and win. Merely fighting an enemy is nothing but erosion. You have to take your goal with one strike.”

Dahlia nodded. “That’s quite wise, who taught you that?”

“I am capable of individual thought.” I angrily glared at her. “But it’s kind of my version of ‘Why not do it right the first time’, you know?” I admitted.

“No, no, you’re right. It IS your individual thought. Inspiration is not stealing. This only shows me you are humble too. But let me change the ‘fighter’ into tactician. You‘d make a great leader.” Ahh… shit. “You even greatly care about your flock. Like when you didn’t give up on your pegasus friend, and ended up being right. I’m very glad she’s alright.”

“Her name is Cirrus.”

“Huh..?”

“Everytime you mention my friends you just say ‘the wyvern’, or ‘the pegasus mare’, or something. They… they have names, you know?”

Dahlia stared at me for a short time. “I believe you are getting too attached to them. Change is the only constant in life. You have to learn to move on, Miss Aideen.” She really knows how to piss me off.

“Okay, now, Dahlia listen. They ARE my friends, and I WILL mourn them when the time comes. I’ve learned that I’d rather lose something than never knowing how it felt like at all. Yes, I will learn how to move on, but this won’t stop me from getting attached to them.”

“I didn’t mean it like that.” Yes, you did. You want me to abandon them and stay here. “I meant…” She wasn’t even able to come up with something. “I’ve lost companions. I… Aideen, would you like to accompany me? I want you to see something. It‘s not of importance, and I can’t explain it, and you might not understand once you see it, but…” She wasn’t talking like her usual self.

“Okay, I’ll look at what you want to show me.”

She nodded as a sign of gratitude that she doesn’t have to explain further. Whatever it was, she caught my curiosity with it.

*** *** ***

“So far I haven’t been allowed in this area.” I needlessly told Dahlia when we sat our hooves on the forest floor, only a few hundred feet away from the black oak, the settlement’s namesake.

“I know.” I knew she had known; she was the one who gave the order. “You need to understand that we protect the knowledge that is stored here.”

She didn’t say anything else, and I didn’t try to poke some of that knowledge out of her. I’ll either see soon or she wouldn’t tell me anyway. I remembered what Clint said is researched in the facility Dahlia was leading me into (not to the oak-tree). Something about dinosaurs and bypass spells… I had been somewhat drugged at that time.

There wasn’t much of an entrance room, only a small reception and a map to the building. The sections were only numbered, not named, so it didn’t tell me much. “It’s not far.” Dahlia encouraged me when we walked down a hallway to one of the labs.

We reached a small lab with four workstations and a few terminals I’d love to examine closer. The two zebras inside were in immediate panic when they saw Dahlia and obeyed without question when she commanded them to get out. When we were alone Dahlia didn’t say anything else. She was leaning against an intersection of two workstations, and did nothing except stare at one of the opposite ones.

I followed her gaze. “This?” I asked and walked over to the station. It had absolutely nothing special to it.

“This is where my husband died.” I had no idea what was in her tone right now. “I still come here and stare at it at times. Once it has been so bad that the lab was even unusable because I had been here all day and they couldn’t work…”

“I’m…” …not sure what to say. “…sorry for your loss.”

“This is where he spend almost a third of his lifetime, and eventually died. And I just don’t know what to make of it. I come here just to stare at it.” So some part of her is equine too.

“Can I?” I gestured to the seat.

“By all means.”

I sat down at the terminal. She’s watching me, but I guess she would stop me if I was able to reach some stuff she thought privileged. Then again I didn’t know what exactly I should be looking for, so I simply looked at their operating system (LillyValley ‘35) and their type of network (FlowerField three).

“It’s a good setup. I always preferred the ‘35 to ‘37, and you simply cannot use even numbered LillyValleys. Hardware’s good too…” I was going on a hunch here that Dahlia wasn’t familiar with computers and I appeared to be simply admiring the setup, not looking for a way to hack into it by memorizing their network frequency and authorization. Oh wireless connection, you make everything so easy!

“You claimed yourself a scientist, Miss Aideen, and my offer still stands, you can stay here, you can work here. This might be much more fitting for you than wandering the wastelands.” Yeah, maybe if my boss wouldn’t be a fanatic who wants me to end the world.

“Really? What are you working on here?” Now I shamelessly called up the list of recently used documents on the terminal; one of them was sticking out.

> H://samples/MAS/relatives/starsparkle/ghoul.bld

I didn’t know what a .bld-file was, but I knew what a sample was, the Ministry of Arcane Science, a relative. I knew who Star Sparkle was, and I knew what a ghoul was.

“Please, I cannot tell you, and you really shouldn’t open those documents.”

“Oh come on, throw me a bone here. You offered me to stay the rest of my life and work here. Can’t I at least know what is going on here?”

> open H://samples/MAS/relatives/starsparkle/ghoul.bld
> bld has no standardized program
>

Of course… And as I didn’t know what a .bld-file was I couldn’t specify a program to open it with. It’s a sample, and the only sense I could make of .bld was ‘blood’.

“What are you looking up anyway?”

What program would be able to open a blood sample? Or the information about it? All I could come up with was a normal text editor. Once I had accessed it I quickly proceeded with commanding it to open my mystery file, and I was greeted with a wall of numbers.

> 00004 06063 00000 1in FB2 A00 X62
> 00009 22676 00000 1in E3A T00 X70
> 00007 22870 00000 1in EF4 G00 X52
> 00000 00000 23167 0xn 320 A80 X46
> 00002 42532 00000 1in F87 T00 X32
> 00005 42785 00000 1in FA9 N00 X60

“Just some data.”

The list was going on and on with always the same pattern if you don‘t count random anomalies. Five places for a small number, never higher than 15, five places for a random number, and five zeros. That was followed by ‘1in’, a high 3-digit hexadecimal number, one o the four letters A, G, N, or T and two zeros, then X and a Gaussian-random 2-digit number.

I…

I got nothing. Whatever these information meant, I couldn’t read them, not without the right program at least, so I closed everything again. I could always log myself in later via my PipBuck. Here I would only come as far as what I can get out of Dahlia herself.

“That looked like nonsense to me.” She proclaimed herself.

“Oh, it was nonsense. I opened it without decrypting the data right. I can only guess what the stuff is.”

“And what did you guess?” Of course she had to know what I think, but I don’t really have a reason to lie to her about that.

“Is it…” Pause for dramatic effect. “A bypass spell?”

Dahlia smiled. “But that wasn’t a guess, Miss Aideen. Bypass spell was what had once been researched here, yes, but why would we need it now?”

“Better to have something and don’t need it than to need something and don’t have it. I assume Star Sparkle’s blood, even though she’s a ghoul now, can be used to make a bypass spell to get into any Ministry of Arcane Science facility, right? Back in the war they didn’t have that. You, on the other hoof, do. How are you planning to use it, clone a Twilight Sparkle out of it somehow?”

“No, easier than that. If you are related to her you can already pass through a shield calibrated to them.” And with that she has already given up on her charade. “For example: If you were related to the prophet you would be able to pass through his shield here.”

“Spellfield has a shield here?” Don’t panic. “Then it’s too bad I’m not really related to him like you assumed.” I still am not convinced about my bloodline. I could simply test it out now. “Has that been the reason why you searched for one of his relatives?” But I can’t go through it, I can’t show them I would be able to go through, if I‘d be able to go through. “Did he lock something away and you can’t reach it?”

“Exactly. You are a very smart mare, Aideen. We would gain so much from your permanent presence here in Black Oak. Are you sure there’s nothing I can do to convince you to stay?”

“Well, you could start with telling the truth. What you want in a MAS facility?” I was in control of the conversation. “I mean, I’m sorry, but I simply can’t bring myself to trust you, Dahlia.”

“What do you mean? I know I kept secrets, but none were to harm you, and I’ve been nothing but good to you.”

“If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The wasteland shaped me like that, and your whole free healthcare, free lodging, free food, free everything… It’s like I’m getting fed to be slaughtered for some ritualistic-cannibalism-thing. I’m constantly afraid around here.”

“Is that the impression you get of us? That we are cannibals?” Yeah, I shocked her good. “We are civilized equines just like you, you…” She was getting loud, so I interrupted her.

“No, no, no. This is not because you are zebras. I’m just generally mistrusting nice people, especially if they are intelligent. Dumb people can be nice, sure, but smart ones? I assume you know what happened to Stable Eight? We trusted some ponies who were nice to us and showed us how and where to live in the wastelands and we were all sold into slavery. I just like to imagine a worst case scenario and have an exit strategy for it. Then I can only get positively surprised. I’d like to like you, but I just can’t.”

We stared at each other for a while. I made sure I was blinking as little as possible, I could practically see the gears her head rotating to come up with something.

“Locked away here are three megaspells, and locked away in the MAS-hub in Manehatten is a foal’s doll, and the instructions for a spell which was stolen from the prophet. His visions had nothing to do with the divine, he was a scientist, like you. He found a spell to foresee the future. Our religion is based on a lie, Miss Aideen, but faith is a tool to easily bend people to my will.” Just my words, but she’s admitting all of it.

We continued our staring contest. I know she was lying in some way to manipulate me, it had just enough truth and surprise so that the explanation was plausible. But… “A foal’s doll?”

“Indeed.” She confirmed me. “It is in the place with the highest security the Ministry of Arcane Science has ever made, don’t you want to know why that is? I do.”

“What would you do with three megaspells?”

“One will create a new world, we don’t know of the other two . Our first priority will be to find out what they are for, they aren’t balefire eggs, that much we know. I believe the prophet wanted us to use them, whatever they do, when the time is right. And the time is right when we manage to reach them. I have no doubt he foresaw exactly when we are able to access them.”

“And if they are for war? Who would you attack?”

“At the moment? The ponies in the MAS-hub, of course. Then we could access what we want freely.” Her answers were way too fast to be improvised.

“Why can’t you access them at the moment?”

“They don’t let us in and we can’t trust anypony to get the things we want.” So that’s where she is getting at.

“Well, too bad trust runs both ways. I‘m not going to do it for you.” I bet she’s expecting me to steal the research and access some vault in Tenpony myself, or she had foolishly hoped I would offer it to her.

“I’m afraid so…” She spoke only to have the last word, meaning she was forcing me to speak up again.

“What’s going to happen now?” She can’t kill me, I still have her goddess inside of me if what Kha’ref told me is right, she still wants something…

“Well, you could steal our research and later keep whatever you are going to find in Manehatten’s MAS-hub for yourself and we could retrieve it from your cold, dead hooves. But you can also manage to outsmart us if you can foresee the future once you have the spell, but that means you have to constantly strain yourself, and we will eventually catch you.”

Craft was chewing on some popcorn, apparently Dahlia and I were putting on a good show.

I proposed the easiest solution: “So, we both say our goodbyes and never see each other again? No hostilities.”

Dahlia sighed. “It seems like this is where the story goes, but you neglect our original proposal. You can stay here, we can build up trust naturally.”

“As if that’s going to happ-”

“And you see this little conversation was only about hypothetical scenarios. I do not want to hurt anyone. We just used our wits to assume what was going to happen now, like you asked, but I believe you realized we are equals. Only I have an army at my disposal.”

“What makes you think I don’t?” If I take over the company I would have one. “But what about my youth, agility, and magic? I could kill you and make your body disappear right now.” Judging from her expression I hit a sore spot. Her own demise was something she never considered. “Ahh… you can deal threats, but not take them. That‘s too bad, for a second I actually thought I had an equal…” I turned around and went to go.

“Okay, maybe we are not equals, Aideen, but we can still be friends. Or… like business partners, we would help each other out, we would both have something to gain… Aideen!” She shouted after me. Why doesn’t she simply go after me?

“Goodbye, Dahlia. If I were you I would chose a successor and tell everyone, if you disappear in the next few days or wind up dead, that it has been me who killed you.”

*** *** ***

“Are you out of your mind?” Turbulence didn’t take the news well. “You know you fucking declared war on her, don’t you?”

I was fond of my precision instruments. I finally was in a state of mind where I like to work on my weapons and look up what they do. At the moment I was working on the energy bow, the only weapon I sadly never had the opportunity to use. Next to me was my sketchbook, where I sketched the interior of the bow how I would build it and where I would build in the inhibitor, the thing that keeps the energy level of the bow on a stable level, but I wanted to remove it.

“I’m on Turbulences side here.” Aww… Clint and Turbulence get along. “This mare is not rational. You cannot expect her to act how you expect her to.”

Now it would make sense for the inhibitor to be somewhere at the energy sources itself, for when the energy gets looped through so that not more energy than needed gets extracted out of it, right? But it’s not there.

“The boys are right, Aideen.” Haha, ‘the boys’. For some reason I thought it hilarious that she referred to them as ‘the boys’. “There is no win we can get out of this… whatever is going on. We can lose our lives and have nothing to gain. We should simply go as soon as possible; we should go now.”

So maybe at the string? The kinetic energy-buildup when you draw it. The energy loops through the string and from somewhere the command to draw energy out of the energy source has to come from. I opened the hatch there. Ahahaha. Bingo!

“You are not even listening to us, are you?”

“I am.” Having reached my goal to find the inhibitors location, I looked up to my friends. “I have some instructions for you.”

“Oh no, what are you planning?”

“First of all we need to get an exit plan.” I stretched myself. The exit plan is always the first thing one needs to know “It’s the most important thing, but it has to be more refined than ‘run’, especially because the forest is full of dangerous crap. Clint, you are a mercenary so you can do whatever, but they might assume you’re with us, because… well, you are with us right now. For some reason you are part of our group now. As we trust you I’d like to establish that trust by hiring you to keep our plans a secret from them. I don’t have any money at the moment, but you know I had massive amounts in Hufstein, and you don’t know where it came from. There is more stashed away, you’ll get paid handsomely once we are back in safety. Other than that I’d like you to stick with us as a friend because we can protect each other and we have higher survival chances in the forest when we all are together, you alone aren’t safe there either.”

“Sounds fine to me.” Clint agreed.

“Okay now: basic plan for everyone: stay alive and don’t get caught. If I get captured you don’t free me, I’ll find a way, trust me on that. Clint first: if you get captured-”

“I won’t.”

“Okay, but if, then you have to talk your way out. You have no sentimental value to us. You can claim you know us better than anyone of them and catch us again, your loyalty is where the money is, or something…” Would he actually? “And if you truly do that than we do not take it personally, it’s just business.”

“That’ll cost you, you know.” Clint nodded. “That I have to simulate working for them with my loyalty still with you. But consumer confidence has my loyalty at the one who employed me first. The contract with them is up, but the one with you is running, I‘m not gonna take on a real job from them. I‘m on your side. Not to mention I despise them more.”

I smiled. “Thanks, I’ve come to like you too.”

He desperately tried to defend himself. “That’s not what I-”

“Moving on.” I interrupted him. “Turbulence, Cirrus, same rules for both of you. Stay alive and don’t get caught. You can fly, so it should be easier to escape them, even though the air above this forest is dangerous. But in case you get caught I will be able to save you. I’d have to make a deal with Dahlia, but I still have something she wants. It might take a while for you to be free, but I would make sure you’re comfy here.”

“And if you get caught?” Turbulence brought up the best point.

“I was getting to that, and I have plenty of scenarios in my mind, but even if those fail I don’t think Craft would think it’s fun that I’m imprisoned.”

“You’d rather rely on Craft than on us?” A frown adorned Cirrus face. “Aideen…”

“No, I’d rather have you safe than know you’d get yourself in trouble again. Craft’s only a failsafe.” I actually was way too confident that I’ll get out of an imprisonment-situation myself. I feel a little bit too secure ever since I learned to teleport, but honestly, it was just too powerful if used right. “But this all won’t be necessary if it works as I have planned it. Dahlia thinks we wouldn’t steal her research because she scared me, but she doesn’t have to find out we stole it in the first place, because we are not going to steal it.” I paused to make them engage in a conversation with me, so they are going to feel like they contributed.

But none of them asked about it. Clint broke the silence then. “Our silence is your cue. Continue talking.”

“Okay… I already have an uplink to their server. Their security should have had an update in the last 200 years, so I had no problem hacking into the more secure parts of their network and access valuable information. The problem is that Dahlia is old school and keeps certain information in physical form, but we can’t break into her own house…”

“Get to the point.” He sure didn’t like me explaining my thought process for them to understand how I came up with my plan.

“Okay. I have the recipe for the bypass spell, the problems we have are only two: we need some of the sap of the black oak, and we need to know Star Sparkle’s location to get some of her blood, which she will give us on her own accord, hopefully.”

“Pretty sure we are not allowed anywhere near the black oak, and Star Sparkle might not give up her blood just like that, if she knows it can be used to acquire some evil stuff from any MAS-hub ever.” Turbulence was right; these two were valid arguments.

“Yeah, but it’s not like she can keep herself from bleeding either,” I grow increasingly evil. “not that I hope we will have to go down that road.” I added, before I quickly changed to the other subject. “Tree sap might be easier, but I think it’s a job for my disguise spell.”

“But Zebras can feel you, Aideen. It doesn’t matter how you look.” Why is Cirrus assuming I’m going to be the one who put on the disguise? Of course they can feel me.

“That only means I have to cast the spell on someone else.” I smiled at her.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” She retreated, having realized whose appearance I‘m going to alter. “Can you even do that?”

“I guess we have to try,” I admitted. “but the calculations I have in my head should be sufficient. If I keep a straight line of sight on you we should not run in any problems.” I didn’t bother explaining them under what conditions unicorn magic works.

“But Zebras still see magic, they’ll notice there’s a spell on me.”

“You’ll be disguised as a scientist, of course you have an experimental spell on you or something. They only feel a spell, not what kind of spell it is.” I hope. “Don’t worry, you just have to act natural.”

“But I don’t know how a zebra scientist acts naturally.” Why does she have to make it so hard on me?

I sighed. “Just go to it, harvest some sap and go away again, you belong there. That’s the job you are supposed to do. Getting some fresh samples, and if someone asks you messed up another batch of samples and you hoped nobody would notice if you get some more quickly. It‘s an embarrassing thing. I don‘t believe they will ask further. Don’t worry, I’ll make you hot, they won’t bother you.”

We continued to work out a perfect plan for every scenario, and tested if I can use my spell on Cirrus which worked without a problem, unless my line of sight was disturbed for a long time, so I could even deal with minor distractions while she did her thing. Everything was going perfectly.

*** *** ***

It has to be somewhere around here…

I wasn’t used to big settlements. I could find my way in a small area, yes, but here in Black Oak I had no idea where I was. Every tree looked the same, every house looked the same; the downside of efficiency was that there’s no individuality. My PipBuck wasn’t of assistance either because it didn’t work well with this architecture, it echo-located the ground and the walls, but there was no proper ground, just rope bridges and railings, so I had no automap to aid me anywhere.

Something was driving me to go visit Kha’ref again. I really want to… I sighed. When I couldn’t find where he lives I don’t even know if the guy was real or not. I walked up to a passerby and asked him for the treeline Kha’ref was living in, but she had never heard of it. Either she didn’t come around much or the treeline really didn’t exist, and therefore Kha’ref didn’t exist either. But he gave me information, or has that just been Craft making assumptions about this settlement, and everything I was going on at the moment is founded on a lie from her? Am I just her marionette? Wait… that also means that Craft would have been the one I spent the night with…

“Craft!” I called out once I was at an isolated location. I waited, but she didn’t show up. “Craft… seriously, I need to talk to you.” I looked around, maybe she blinked into existence somewhere lazily lying on a tree with an bodily posture of utter apathy towards my situation of distress. “Please…” Oh god, I’m getting whiny.

“What?!” Contrary to what I believed Craft showed herself right next to me, with e normal gesture. “I’m not your butler you know. Don’t expect me to come every time you call.”

“Like you have anything better to do.” I told her. What does she even do when she’s not there?

“Doing nothing is more rewarding than talking to you sometimes.” From her point of view maybe. “But you got me now, so what’s up?”

“Last night… with Kha’ref… was it real?”

“Haven’t I already told you it’s funny that you are that easily confused by the term ‘real’? You are talking to me right now; does that feel real?” I could have expected her to not give me a straight answer.

“You know what I mean, Craft.”

She laughed. “Yeah, I do.”

“So?”

“Does it matter if it felt real for you? Hasn’t it been good? Aren’t you searching for more at the moment?”

Yes, yes, and yes. But could I give her that answer if it actually had been her who… “Let me rephrase my question then. Have you disrupted my mind to make me perceive all of it?”

“You’re getting smarter; you start phrasing questions more directly so I cannot answer truthfully while still being as cryptic as I can.”

“And now you decided to simply not answer?”

“No, I delayed my answer to a later point. There are multiple answers to it you know. You actually want me to say I did it because you are still in denial that you were even capable of such an act. You want to save your mind from the contact with a stallion so bad that you’d rather villainize me than admit the fact that you liked having sex. On the other hoof, if it had actually been my doing, I would have taken away control from you; like I raped you.”

“So?”

“Scenario one: I have altered your perception to get you to think Cirrus woke up yesterday. Once you were in the hospital I made some happy-noises to piss you off and make you think your friends betrayed you, and then I made you find his house. The next day I made you think it wasn’t real, just to make you question what’s real and what’s not. That‘s number one, number two is… oh no wait!” She acted as if she just realized something. “I made up a passerby who never heard of the treeline.” She tilted her head and smiled at me to see how it all goes in. “The idea for the whole thing I got the idea when you flirted with him at the gym yesterday.”

Why did I even flirt with him? I remember I wanted someone to help me with all the training tools and he was handsome. I only did it to manipulate him… right?

“Scenario two is different. You never left your treehouse-thingy and I made everything up myself, when you fell asleep I wasn’t able to immediately change the scenery into how his house looked like so I just rolled with it and told you the truth to show you what happens when you mess with me. When you started cursing I snapped the illusion up again to make you further question what’s real and what’s not. After that you went to Cirrus, but I made you think she just woke up to contradict what you already believed, making you question the happenings of the previous night even more. And the shit our little zebra told you I made up, while he said he doesn’t really know I was just too lazy to make up details.”

When she laid out the facts like that… Then scenario one was…

“I’m a lazy person, so scenario one is a lot small changes, scenario two is two big ones. That makes number one seems more plausible, don’t you think?”

Great, she just has to say it; now it seemed like she especially went against her usual pattern to confuse me. But I can ask clearly now. “Is scenario one the scenario how the events happened in this marble?”

“Well, aren’t you something?” She grinned. “Yes. Yes, they are. But, then again, I might be lying.”

Hmm… Let’s play this out. If he’s real I’d have to admit I like having sex with him. If he’s not it would mean I liked having sex with Craft. Do I admit the simple fact that I had liked last night? If I do, does it matter who I have to thank for it? I like stallions, and Kha’ref, whether he was real or not had been one, and Craft doesn’t really have a gender, she only appears female. So if it had been her all along I could simply turn it around and use her and take control. So it seems I admit I like sex… This shouldn’t be something that comes as ‘hard to admit’ for a normal pony. “Would you help me find Kha’ref? I’m sure you memorized the way.” I’ll win for sure, whether he was real or not. I couldn’t help but smile.

“Sorry babe, I’ve got a headache today.” With that Craft disappeared.

My smile faded again. ‘I’ll win for sure.’ Seems like I hadn’t thought solely with my brain on that matter. I was getting unreasonable… lead by emotions and feelings. I was getting… more normal.

I didn’t like it.

*** *** ***

A trip down Spellfield’s memory lane might help set my mind at more ease. The war had started, I can only assume it was getting interesting now. The birth of their ‘Gaia Prevails’-organization might be mundane because I already figured all that out by myself, but it can’t help but know the exact circumstances.

> Memorhedron is fully charged and ready to use.
> Next memory in queue: Aideen
> Length: 0 hours 9 minutes 51 seconds.
> Load memory?

‘Aideen’. I bit my lip. This has to be his daughter, right? Of course it is, it can’t possibly mean me. Calm down, and watch the memory.

> Load Memory?
> load

<-=======ʌʌɅ Ʌʌʌ=======->

Spellfield was sitting on a comfy chair, holding a zebra-infant in his hooves. I could feel his facial muscles smiling at it, because it was freaking cute. The scenery I recognized as his home by the carpet, as all Spellfield did was look down at the foal.

A knock at the door was audible, followed by hoof steps leading towards it. A female voice welcomed the male arrival in, quietly enough I couldn’t make out what exactly they were saying. During the whole time Spellfield did nothing but carefully rocking the sleeping foal in his hooves.

The pair of hoofsteps came closer until they reached the room again. “Hey.” The male voice softly greeted into the room.

The greeting was returned by two nearly identical male voices. “Ryde, ‘sup?” and “Jo!”.

As Spellfield didn‘t look up, the stallion, presumably Spellfields oldest son ‘Ryde’, directly addressed him. “Dad?”

At the door stood a zebra stallion and mare, and on the floor, playing cards, sat two identical stallions. These must be Ryde, Quinn, and the twins, whose names I don’t know yet. And the foal in Spellfields hooves has got to be Quinn’s child, because the last thing I’ve known of the mare was that she had been pregnant, yet the Quinn in front of me clearly wasn’t.

“So you’re all here.” Not quite, the family Spellfield had (that I know of, and who were still alive) was missing Ryde’s wife and foals, and Spellfields unicorn daughter Aideen.

“What about Aideen?” One of the twins asked.

“Aideen…” Spellfield sighed. “is today’s family conference subject.” This earned him some frowns from his children. “As a parent, my goal is it that my kids lead their lives as well as possible. That they are happy… I assume you all understand this.”

Yep, judging from their expressions now, they all knew this. But just like with me talking to my friends, they all didn’t respond as they knew he wasn’t finished talking. ‘Their silence is his cue’.

“A year ago, I liked to talk about a possible war in the future, but as I was still in hope it wouldn’t happen I didn’t force my theories on you, and of course, to not unsettle you. Now we all suffered in some form or another from not being prepared. We have all experienced racism before, even before the disputes have started, and we all felt them grow worse now, until it broke with the start of the war.”

They all looked down, especially Quinn, who lost the father of her foal because he thought ‘it was better not to be affiliated with a zebra’ or something, but it was her to speak up. “And we talk about Aideen now… why? She’s a unicorn.”

“Yes, that makes it very bad for her because of us, her family. We have to think in ‘worst case scenario’ now, and here is what I think is the worst thing: This war turns from two nations against each other to two races against each other, because propaganda makes it much easier if one can claim that ‘they are so different from us’, and ‘they are not even ponies’. Until a zebra has no rights in Equestria anymore, and it’s open season where it’s not a crime to kill us, but appreciated to eliminate an enemy of Equestria.”

There was a horrible silence for a few seconds. What a topic to discuss with your children, but I guess it’s necessary. Finally Ryde spoke up. “Dad…”

“Yeah, it’s far-fetched, but it’s not impossible. It’s the worst case scenario. A lesser one is a separation from the pony population, where zebras get to be only third class citizens with bad health care, schools and other civil rights. Now I hope the war ends soon and we prepare needlessly, but what if it does come to pass and we didn’t do anything? This is a ‘what if’ that I never want to think about, so I have to eliminate this ‘what if’, you understand?”

After lip-biting, sighing and general signs of ‘uncomfortable topic’, they agreed.

“So, Aideen…” Spellfield began. “her best shot if she’s as far away from us as possible. That we are strengthened by the knowledge she’s safe.”

“Send Aideen away? Dad, we never separate the family.” Ryde was a father himself.

“Don’t you think I don’t know that?” How can Spellfield keep his tone this neutral? “This doesn’t come easy to me, you know? A worst case scenario is a special occasion in which the rules can be broken.”

“Then why don’t we all just go to the Crystal Empire?” Bad idea.

“The Crystal Empire would take Equestrias side in a heartbeat.” Yep, they did. “If the war goes ‘worst case scenario’ the Crystal empire won’t be much different than Equestria, as it has always done as Equestria does.”

“Just tell us your plan, Dad.” The twins said simultaneously.

“Wait in a hideout. I have connections to a good hearted architect and contractor who can make us a decent bunker,” Applebloom, who came up with the idea of Stables… “where we can wait until the air clears, or we can decide on fleeing the land, once things would really go bad.” That‘s why the Gaia Prevails facility is pretty close to the border. “But still, Aideen’s best shot is to stay in Equestria,” Which is going to be Stable Eight then. “and have no affiliation to us for the duration of the war.” She’ll even change her name… “She will certainly not be happy about it, but as a unicorn Aideen would have no future outside Equestria, and I need her to have a future.”

The foal woke up and began crying. It was a disturbing interruption for the conversation. But I assume everyone was glad to have this interruption, so they could order their thoughts for a while. Quinn took her foal. “Shh… Sarina.” So Quinn named her foal after her dead mother. “Everything’s o…” I felt my heart breaking. She couldn’t even bring herself to tell her foal ‘everything’s okay’. “Are you hungry? Let’s get you something.” She disappeared from my sight and walked towards where I suspected the kitchen in the house.

The memory ended.

<-=======vvV Vvv=======->

> Save position in queue.
> Memorhedron is charging. 1%
> Not ready for use.

I felt tears in my eyes. The poor family… And Spellfield will always think it’s all his fault for not having been able to avert the war. Oh, shit. Tears marched down my face now while I kept lying on my bed.

Everything else in my life can wait for now.




*** *** ***

Footnote: Level progress: 50%

New Quest: Bypass MAS Shield
[X] Acquire the Bypassspell recipe
[ ] Acquire Star Sparkles blood
[ ] Acquire Black Oak treesap
[ ] Gather the rest of the ingredients
[ ] Bypass the MAS-Shield

New Quest: Bypass Spellfield’s Shield
[ ] Test if you can bypass Spellfield’s Shield

Quest: Memories of the Future
[ ] Find out why the Memorhedron has planted on you.
[ ] Optional: Watch as much Memories in the Memorhedron as possible (10)

Author's Note:

Is this the real life?
or epic fantasy?


I'd like to welcome Amethyst Wind as my editor!