• Published 15th Sep 2013
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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.

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The Wasteland Heroes

Fallout: Equestria - Roadside Stories

Chapter Three: The Wasteland Heroes

"Calm is what you have to be when people look to you. And it's all you can be when things are out of your hands."

Wonderful.

I had to admit, after my confrontation with Kerosene and Lightway, I drifted back into my old self pretty steadily. My outburst drew no ill will from what I could see and there was no reason that reverting to my previous state would create any.

It helped that neither Kerosene nor Lightway mentioned it, but I spotted Racer shooting me looks. I cringed at the thought, regardless. My outburst was a sign of weakness and it wasn’t something that I wished anypony would see me do again.

Still…

Kerosene was awfully honest with me at the time. I didn’t really know why. I mean, I realize I said that Kerosene was a brutally honest stallion, but he was under no obligation to tell me why I was doing this job. I was getting paid regardless. And I had a feeling I would’ve stuck with Kerosene even if I hadn’t asked him. He was a magnetic one, Kerosene. Despite his brashness.

And Lightway and Racer, too. Those were the other two reasons I decided to stick around.

*** *** ***

Tenpony Tower loomed large over the rest of the Manehattan ruins. It helped that there were no other buildings in the immediate area that was even close in size. An Old World building, it nonetheless looked impressive. I’d seen it before in my travels, of course, but I’d never been inside. The Manehattan ruins did not make for very good company, even if the route to Tenpony was mostly safe.

With that incredibly large enemy encampment in front of it, I didn’t know if I wanted to.

Foolscap approached me at my perched position atop a mound. “Any idea how we’re supposed to get inside?” she asked, her eyes wandering over Red Eye’s army. “Seems like it’d be a bitch to get through that.”

“Well, you won’t have to,” I said, staring out at the huge number of slavers gathered in front of the Pre-War building.

“‘Scuse me?” Foolscap asked.

“Kerosene’s ordered the party to make camp here. He’s going to get his si - er, the pony we’re escorting out.”

Foolscap raised an eyebrow at me. “And I assume that means you’re not going, either?”

“Well…”

“I knew it.” She rolled her eyes. Damn mares. “Leaving me out in the dust, aren’t you?”

“I- Ugh, fine. Come with, if you want. Just make sure you’re good with a gun.” I facehoofed. This was was going to be very bad, I predicted. A stable dweller with hardly any marshall experience wasn’t going to fit in very well with this plan.

She floated out a small pistol out of her packs. She cocked it. “I can make do with this.” She looked out across the ridge to the army sitting in front of the tower. “I assume we’re not going in for a frontal assault? That’s going to end our quest a little shorter than we anticipated. Our lives, too.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Kerosene told me about a way inside a few nights ago.”

It was a few hours after my little confrontation. Kerosene and Lightway had ushered me away, explained a few more things to me about this whole situation. They felt like I deserved it, after everything that had happened with that Watcher fellow.

Apparently, Kerosene’s sister was from this little group called the “Twilight Society,” named after Twilight Sparkle, one of the Ministry Mares. Arcane Sciences, I think (which makes sense, judging from that sign hanging from the monorail line that pretty clearly said “Ministry of Arcane Sciences Hub”). Anyway, supposedly Kerosene’s sister wanted out of Tenpony Tower because of the balefire bomb. Simple enough, I thought, but there was something else there, too. Kerosene was pretty vague about it, but he mentioned something about needing to get “classified data” out of Tenpony.

I didn’t question what that was supposed to mean. But since these were a bunch of magic scientist ponies, I sort of just assumed that it was pretty important. Apparently, the Society didn’t want to risk losing their progress in the event of a balefire detonation. Hence, our party bailing her out.

Kerosene then had the common courtesy to tell us that we didn’t have to come with him inside of Tenpony. Our group was hired for security and security only, he said.

“Bullshit,” I replied. “And besides, you owe me. I’m going in with you.”

No arguments from Kerosene, though Lightway looked at me with a smile. Dangerous being a pony with at least some moral obligations. And I thought I was only in it for the caps? Silly pony. Of course you were going to go into Tenpony. Why wouldn’t you, after all?

So, Kerosene told me about a sewer system running underneath Tenpony. It was filled with ghouls, though, which kind of sucked. I’d dealt with ghouls in the past, so I didn’t let this fact worry me, but feral ghouls were fast and I’ve seen what happens to a pony when you let it get its teeth close to your jugular. Not a pretty sight.

Still, a way in was a way in.

And I knew that better than most ponies.

*** *** ***

I filled Foolscap in on Kerosene’s plan, including the part where his sister was the one that was in trouble. Foolscap didn’t seem to bothered by this, or even surprised. Seems that as a writer pony, she knew ponies well enough to know when there was a personal motive behind an action. At that moment, Foolscap was asking for some advice.

“Any advice on ghouls?” Foolscap asked as she checked her pistol’s sights. The thing looked pretty new. If I had to guess, it was probably lifted straight from her vault’s armory.

“Aim for the head. With your gun, you don’t have much stopping power, so make your shots count. Automatic weapons don’t have much of that, so if your pistol’s full-auto, switch it to semi. Oh, and don’t try reasoning with feral ghouls. They’re nothing but monsters now.”

She gulped. “Got it.”

*** *** ***

“This was a stupid idea!” Foolscap shouted as she emptied another clip into a feral ghoul, shooting blood-red holes into its skinless hide, dropping it stone dead.

“Juff keepff ffirringf!” I attempted to say despite my revolver being in my mouth. I pulled the trigger with my teeth as I brought down two more of the feral ghouls, blowing their heads clean off.

Foolscap and I backed into each other, our sides pressing into the other’s. We kept firing, Foolscap floating her pistol using her magic while I held onto my revolver using my mouth, something that was still profoundly uncomfortable. Feral ghouls surrounded us on all sides as we stood in irradiated, dirty sewer water.

They roared at us.

But Kerosene roared louder.

His battle saddle blazed with rifle fire, tearing into the feral ghouls surrounding us with a surprising amount of accuracy. Their heads were blown off in an instant, exploding into bloody gore, splattering the walls and tainting the green water with red.

Smoke lifted from the muzzles of Kerosene’s rifles.

Two feral ghouls ran up behind him. I almost shouted a warning, but he didn’t need it. Without even looking, he bucked behind him, catching the two ghouls in their chests with his massive hindlegs. The feral ghouls flew backwards, falling down an old hole blown into the ground and deeper into the sewers.

He kept trotting after that, passing the two of us. “Let’s keep moving,” he said.

Foolscap and I shared a look that said the same thing. This pony was fucking badass. No wonder Gawd had trouble keeping him in line.

We were silent for a bit, though I could faintly hear sounds of DJ-Pon3’s broadcasts coming from Foolscap’s earbloom, obviously listening in on the radio while wandered around, looking for an entrance that was supposed to get us into the tower. How she got a signal down here was anypony’s guess, though I suppose her PipBuck had something to do with it.

“Who’s this Stable Dweller mare?” she asked me.

“Stable Dweller? Some not-evil-good-pony that’s wandering around helping ponies out, I guess.”

“That’s it? This DJ-Pon3 seems to think she’s some kind of Messiah or Lightbringer or something.”

I shrugged. “Maybe. You wander the wastes long enough and you come to the realization that nopony can be that good. There’s probably some bias in that broadcast.”

She paused. “And… what about this Security mare?”

“Her?” I chuckled. “Some crazy mare out in the Hoof making too many enemies to count. Some crazy stuff went down in Hoofington recently, I think. But, as for what the DJ’s saying about her? Pretty much the same stuff I said about the Stable Dweller. Bias.”

Foolscap brought a hoof to her face, pondering in a way only a writer could ponder.

“If that’s the case, the - Watch out!”

… for the teeth that suddenly drove right into my right foreleg, causing me to scream in pain. The feral ghoul stared up at me, its eyes wide and full of rage. I roared, slamming my left foreleg into its temple, causing it to let go of my foreleg while it was still attached to the rest of me.

Foolscap quickly floated out her pistol and pressed it up against the ghoul’s head, firing. It went down, two bullet holes now present on the opposite end of its head.

Kerosene rushed over to me, taking a look at my injured foreleg while I failed to suppress my whimpering. He was calm. He’s always calm, I managed to think. Foolscap looked a little more panicked.

“A-are you alright?!” she asked, clearly worried. “A-are you going to turn into one of them now?”

I almost laughed, despite the searing pain in my leg. “That’s zombies. Ghouls are… ergh, radiation.” Ugh. I hoped that it sinking its teeth into my leg didn’t mean that I’d suddenly grow fingers out of my hooves or something. Oh Celestia…

Kerosene looked at me. “You’ll live.” He took a needle out of his pack and plunged it into my foreleg. I squealed like a little filly for a second, causing no end to the blush on my face. Suddenly, the pain dulled and I could no longer feel my right foreleg. Which was altogether better than being in pain.

“Good?” he asked.

“Good,” I confirmed. “Thanks for the Med-X. Really appreciate it.”

“When we get inside, I’ll take you to Doctor Helpinghoof when we get inside. He’ll fix that leg.” I nodded at him.

He nodded back at me and continued on his merry way, with us trailing behind, though I had to lift my foreleg the whole time. Which made the rest of the journey pretty hard to stomach, since raising my hoof meant that I was staring into my injured foreleg for the rest of the journey, albeit with the Med-X having stopped the bleeding.

“Is your leg… going to be alright?” Foolscap asked in concern.

I looked down at it, almost feeling sick to my stomach, but I forced myself to swallow and smile reassuringly at the unicorn mare. “Yeah. Just need to… hold my vomit in until we get to the doctor.”

“Shouldn’t you use, you know, a healing potion or something?”

“Nah,” I replied. “Don’t want to waste any supplies.”

“You have very odd standards, Roadside.”

I gave her my best cheeky grin. “Part of the reason why I have so many caps. Well, before that New Pegas incident, anyway. But I’ve been working my way up again.”

“What is this New Pegas thing?” she asked me, her eyebrow raising. “You mention it all the time when we talk.” Oh right. Whoops. I do tend to make reference to New Pegas (and by extension Dise) a lot.

I grimaced at her question. “It’s a weird matter. Look, I got into a lot of trouble in Pegas. A lot of people got hurt. Everyone from the Reapers to Caesar’s Legion to the Celestia-damned Enclave was involved. New Pegas is a strange city and it attracts a shit-load of weird people. I got in over my head and I had to hightail it outta there unless I wanted Robronco robots up my ass. Then, things got even worse when I detoured to Dise. By Celestia was that place somehow even more fucked up… House and his cyberponies are not ponies you want to mess with. Neither are the zebra Legionaries.”

“Sounds… complicated.” Foolscap gave me a look halfway between worry and bemusement. I didn’t know whether I preferred one or the other.

“I’ll tell you the whole story another time. For now, let’s just focus on getting out of this place, eh?”

*** *** ***

The maintenance door swung open slowly and rusty-like. It was pretty obvious that it hadn’t been in use for quite a while. Hell, it was perfectly possible that it hadn’t been in use for over a hundred years. However, something told me that considering the Twilight Society was perfectly aware of a secret underground entrance to Tenpony Tower, somepony must have used it fairly recently.

First things first.

We made our way quickly through the hallways of Tenpony, getting to Doctor Helpinghoof’s medical clinic as fast as possible. Tenpony’s citizens were the closest things you could get to snobby high-class ponies of alleged stature in the Wasteland, outside of the Bluebloods. They treated us with disdain all the way there. Despite the fact that it was 2 AM, there were still a sizable amount of them up and awake. And thus, a sizable amount of bigotry.

They didn’t say anything, though. Too scared of ol’ Kerosene.

Gotta love ‘im at times.

When we got there, Kerosene was about to reach for the handle and open the door when it seemed to swing open by itself, hitting Kerosene in the face.

“Sorry about that!”

Two ponies stepped out, both unicorns. One was a gray color, a little short, with a small frame. She wore stable barding with a “2” visible on her collar and a PipBuck glowing green on her right foreleg. She held a strange expression on her face, a look of seriousness and determination. Solemn. Yeah, that’s what I’d call her. The other? A white coated unicorn with a wild red-and-black mane. Oh, and robot legs. And eyes that glowed. This one had a manic look on her face. Crazy, with just a hint of that same determination on the smaller one’s face.

Kerosene stepped back, obviously also surprised by this… interesting pair we’d run into. “No… worries…” he said, cautiously, eyeing the two unicorns suspiciously. Foolscap joined him in their… eyeing. I cleared my throat.

“It’s cool,” I said. Then, I looked over the smaller gray one, who now looked like she wanted to smack the cyberpony in the back of the head for hitting Kerosene in the snout. Something about her seemed awfully familiar. I thought back to a DJ-Pon3 broadcast I’d heard a while back in New Pegas...

“And now, my little ponies, it’s time for the news! Now you ponies remember when I told you ‘bout those two ponies who crawled themselves out of Stable Two? Well, I’ve been gettin’ reports that one of those little ponies took out the raider nest in the heart of Ponyville, and saved several pony captives -- including the beloved author of The Wasteland Survival Guide, Ditzy Doo!”


Oh.

Her.

The yellow “2” on her stable barding suddenly seemed a whole lot more intimidating. My breath caught in my throat and I suddenly found myself in a very awkward position. Before me stood the Stable Dweller. Bringer of light. Messiah. Despite my nonchalant dismissal of her earlier to Foolscap, I still found it difficult to believe that I would cross paths with her of all ponies. And while here. Oh, boy.

“You… you’re the… aren’t you?” I managed to say, my eyes wide. “Sweet Celestia… I never thought…”

I could see the Stable Dweller grimace, covering her face with her PipBuck covered forearm. She gave me a small smile and nodded, obviously not really liking the attention I suddenly piled on her. But, then two glowing eyes turned to me and a manic grin erupted on the cyberpony’s face.

“I don’t like to brag,” the cyberpony said, still keeping that ridiculous grin on her face. I could smell alcohol on her breath and I could tell she was drunk. She must have been if she thought I was getting worked up over her, cyberpony or not. “But yeah, it’s me. Name’s Blackjack! But most ponies in the Hoof call me Security.”

I looked at her, my mouth agape. Despite the fact that she was right next to the Stable Dweller, looking at the Security Mare - “Blackjack” - made my neck feel like it was craning itself in the opposite direction. Two of the greatest heroes in the wasteland. Standing in front of me. Together. My chest felt like it could explode at any second.

Security?” My mouth was still hanging open. “Oh, Celestia fuck me with her horn!”

I could see the Stable Dweller chuckle. “Usually, I’m the one that’s saying that. Nice to see another pony being so vulgar for a change.” I could see Blackjack begin to protest, but she just shut up abruptly. “Name’s Littlepip.”

“Roadside,” I replied, still feeling a little starstruck. To Foolscap, I mouthed, ‘THE STABLE DWELLER AND SECURITY!” She replied by giving me a nervously cheeky smile, teeth and all, before giving me an encouraging hoof-signal. “Those are Foolscap and Kerosene.” The two nodded at the pair of unicorns.

Littlepip seemed a bit bothered by all the starstruck-ness that I seemed to be piling on, but she kept a worried little smile on her face. “Sorry for hitting your friend in the face.”

“It was nothing,” Kerosene interjected, apparently unfazed by the entire encounter.

“Still, sorry.” Littlepip nodded at him.

“My fault,” Blackjack raised her… robot hoof. “Shake on it?” she said, extending her hoof to Kerosene. Kerosene looked at it for a second before shrugging and reaching for her cyber-hoof, when robot fingers erupted from it and encased Kerosene’s hoof in a hard grasp. She then proceeded to shake his hoof vigorously. Kerosene held a look of surprise on his face, not something anypony is used to seeing, but he went along with it, regardless.

Blackjack let go of his hoof and retracted her, ugh, fingers from her hoof. “There we go.”

Littlepip facehoofed, but she looked at me sheepishly. “Anyway, I think we better get going.”

“You on a mission?” I couldn’t help but ask. Littlepip looked taken aback a little, before forcing a smile.

She looked around, before nodding. “It’s kind of top secre-”

“We’re stealing the balefire bomb from Red Eye!” Blackjack nearly shouted. Littlepip facehoofed once more, this time more violently. If she hit herself any harder, she’d have knocked herself out.

“Thanks for spilling the beans, cyberpony.”

“Oh, right. It was supposed to be secret, wasn’t it? My bad. Hey, you shouldn’t let the not-a-smart-cyberpony talk out loud if you don’t want your secrets aired!”

“He wasn’t even asking you!”

“I’m drunk! And how are we even supposed to get out of this joint, anyway?”

“Ugh! There’s a secret-”

“-passageway in the basement that leads outside?” I finished, causing Littlepip to look at me. “That’s how we got in,” I explained.

Littlepip looked me up and down, as if truly taking in my appearance for the first time. She offered me a smile. “Figured as much. Didn’t take you for Tenpony residents. Not nearly staunch enough.”

I smiled back. “I try to fit the mold of the wastelander as best I can.”

“Seems so,” she said, still idly smiling. She eyed the revolver in my holster, before whistling a little. “Nice gun.”

“Yeah,” I said, unholstering it and holding the shiny silver gun in my good hoof. “It’s a pretty good standby. Good stopping power. Reliable.”

“Sweet gun,” Blackjack also, observed. “Never seen a revolver model like that before. Ironshod?”

“Dunno. Got it in New Pegas.”

“Regardless,” Littlepip said. “You’re pretty lucky to have a gun like that. Keep it safe for me, eh?”

“I will!” Oh, I definitely will.

“Anyway, we gotta run. Maybe I’ll see you again one day, Roadside. Until then, goodbye!” Littlepip nodded at all of us before walking down the direction we had previously walked, Blackjack in tow. The cyberpony waved at us drunk-like one final time before she disappeared around the corner with the Stable Dweller.

“That was… interesting,” Foolscap observed.

I was silent, still not sure my brain was processing exactly what had just transpired. “The Stable Dweller and Security… together.” Was my brain still playing catch up? Checking… yes. Yes, it was.

Kerosene coughed, pointing at my leg. “Did you suddenly forget that you have a massive bite wound in your leg?” he asked, squinting his eyes at me.

“Oh, right. Totally forgot about that.”

He sighed, while Foolscap giggled.

*** *** ***

I laid down on the bed, looking at my good-as-new leg. Helpinghoof was kind enough to let me rest on one of his hospital beds in exchange for telling him where exactly his drunken cyberpony patient had gone. I sort of lied to him, but it was hard to feel guilty when lying down after such an arduous journey felt so good. I had a feeling he’d have given me a bed, anyway.

I sighed, covering myself in soft bed sheets.

“I’m going to search for my sister,” Kerosene said. “And to inform her of this… disturbing news about the balefire bomb.”

“What?” Foolscap asked. “This is good news, isn’t it? Two wasteland heroes are teaming up to steal the balefire bomb from Red Eye! Doesn’t this mean Tenpony won’t be under threat of explosion anymore?”

He looked at her, scrunching his jaw. “Maybe. Or it might lead to Red Eye deciding to detonate the bomb earlier than expected.” He sighed. “The Twilight Society will know what to make of this…” he said, shuffling out of the clinic.

It was Foolscap’s turn to sigh. “Isn’t this a good thing?”

I stayed quiet for a bit. “Look, Foolscap. As much as I… creamed my legs back there with those two, it doesn’t mean they’re infallible. I mean, they’re just ponies, right? They could still fuck this all up. I can see where Kerosene’s coming from.”

“I suppose so…” she said, sitting down on the bed with me. “Maybe I was just getting a little too hopeful about heroes…”

“What do you mean?” I asked, leaning forward to look at her closer.

“Back in Stable One-Thirty-Two, rebels lived and died by the law of the overmare. Exile was a constant threat. It’s a corrupt regime like you’ve never seen. But these wasteland heroes… they gave me hope, you know? Like, ponies who were fighting the system. Fighting against ponies who’d wronged other ponies.” She looked me in the eyes.

“Heroes,” she repeated.

“The wasteland has a lot of alleged ‘heroes,’” I said. “From what Kerosene’s told me, Watcher considered him a hero, too.” I was alluding to another previous conversation I’d had with Kerosene and his family, wherein they explained that Watcher had considered Kerosene an honest pony of good standing for a long time. Then, he just up and disappeared one day. Off to find more “heroes” it seemed.

“But,” she said. “Nopony really belives in heroes out here, right?”

“That’s really not that true. DJ-Pon3 and Watcher seem to. And you.”

“What about you?” she asked.

“It’s important to believe in some things,” I admitted. “But heroes are a strange thing to believe in. I believe in ponies doing good, honest things. But that doesn’t mean that they’re invincible. You can’t call a pony a hero and expect them to live up to some impossible standard. They’re just as vulnerable as anypony else. So, yes, you can say I believe. But it’s a faith that’s easily shaken.”

Foolscap was silent, staring into a gray wall as if boring holes through it.

“When I left the Stable,” she finally said, “I didn’t know what to expect from the wasteland. I knew it’d be hard, but… when I left the Stable, the first thing I heard was a news segment on the conditions in the wasteland. What happened in Old Appleoosa. Security getting a two hundred thousand cap bounty on her head. Very poignant stuff.” She held what seemed to be a wistful look on her face. I could imagine that she was thinking that all this would make for a very good story.

“Maybe it’s because I’m a writer or maybe it’s because I’m still young by Stable standards, but all of those radio segments gave me a lot of hope. DJ-Pon3 gave me hope. The Stable Dweller, Security, Watcher. Even Kerosene and his family.”


Of course.

“It was too much. I got inspired, you could say, the way a writer gets inspired. Got in trouble within a few days with some raider tribes. Ran away, killed a few of those fucking raiders along the way.” She scowled. At this, I was taken aback. I hadn’t expected that Foolscap had already killed, but then again, considering the propensity of both the Stable Dweller and Security… it wasn’t too surprising. “Their sense of decor was… disturbing. Almost made me lose hope in what the heroes were trying to do, but DJ-Pon3 made for a good security blanket.”

Somewhat consciously, I slid a hoof onto her shoulder. “Seems like you’ve been through a lot in the past couple days.” I hesitated for a moment. Foolscap was an interesting case of what happens when a pony becomes trusts a little too much in the so-called “heroes” of the wasteland. They invade your psyche. Drive you to do things. I liked to consider myself smart enough to only personally take care of myself.

I was not a heroic pony. I didn’t take out bad ponies on principle. I didn’t invade hostile territory to free slaves from their imprisonment. I didn’t go up against impossible odds like dragons and giant radscorpions to do the morally right thing. The most I’d do is help someone do something. I never risked my life for a cause. But they did. The Stable Dweller, Security, even Foolscap had tried. Kerosene, too, from what Watcher said.

But not me.

Never Roadside. Never in my travels had I opted to do the right thing. Losing all my money in New Pegas was a result of selfish behavior in the face of intimidating forces. The Legion, the Enclave. Even the Steel Rangers wanted something that I was a part of. So, I ran. Took some money that some debtors would’ve liked to have. Dumped the money in Pegas for a gun and supplies, found my way back to the Equestrian heartland.

Begin again. Start fresh. Let go.

I’d learned a lot in the past about letting go. Letting go of money. Of morals. To survive. Doing the right thing was hard. Doing it in the face of certain death? Almost impossible.

Foolscap knew none of this, though I suspected that she would’ve found a way to convince herself that it was worth it. And, you know, maybe it was worth it. Worth your own life. But I didn’t think that at the time. I didn’t know the worth of the magic of friendship. Of doing the things the right way. Of friends and family and all those things I’d either discarded or ignored.

So, I stayed quiet, sitting beside her.

*** *** ***

A blue buck poked his head into the clinic some time later. His equally blue eyes swirled around the clinic, before sighing and rubbing his face in what seemed to be a mix of disappointment and relaxed reservedness that seemed to scream, “Oh, great.”

“Oh, boy,” he muttered. “As if I shouldn’t have seen this coming.”

“Looking for someone?” I asked, catching his attention. He turned to me, seeing me and Foolscap. She’d dozed off since then, taking my place on the hospital bed, her white-copper coat only slightly ruffled by the bed sheets. I had to admit, she looked really cute then.

He trotted over. “Yes,” he replied. “It’s kind of hard to miss her. Cyberpony with four robotic legs and glowing eyes. She’s supposed to be here.” He looked at an empty bed with a droll expression. “Supposed to be.” He sighed.

He was looking for Blackjack. That was obvious enough.

“A cyberpony?” I asked, lying just a bit to get his attention. “Really? Wow. So, uh, who is she?”

He looked at me reluctantly, sizing me up. “Ever heard of Security?”

“The heroine in the Hoof? Sure.”

“Well, I’m one of her friends. She got hurt really badly. Took her here. Got her help. Now she’s about half-robot and walking around who knows where.” He rolled his eyes. “So, have you seen her anywhere?”

“Hmm. Well…”

“P-21!” shouted somepony from outside. A gray pegasus flew in, nearly slamming the doors to the clinic open.

“Glory?” he asked, confused. “What’s wrong?”

“Blackjack and another mare have gone out to Red Eye’s camp! They got the balefire bomb away from Tenpony!”

“What?!”

*** *** ***

There are… very few sights in the wasteland that can make one both laugh and shit his haunches at the same time. The “sight,” if you could call it that, was of an entire wing of alicorns flying towards the roof of Tenpony Tower. Littlepip sat, looking very miffed, atop one of the winged unicorns, looking towards the other figure riding the lead alicorn.

Blackjack wearing a crown of whiskey bottles.

I admit. I laughed. And I could see Foolscap was having difficulty not laughing as well.

The rest of Blackjack’s friends were present. This was the Hoofington group that I’d been hearing about so much on the news. A gray pegasus, an alicorn, a blue buck, a green mare, and a crazy looking stallion. Well, they certainly were an interesting-looking bunch. Especially that alicorn. At the moment, they were all looking dumbstruck at the preposterous sight before us.

I nudged P-21. “I’ll leave you guys to see to Blackjack and Littlepip.”

P-21 nodded nervously. Then, he whipped his head to face me. “Wait, you know-”

I winked, trying my best to look mysterious. I waved at him as I turned to leave.

“What was your name, again?” he called out.

“Roadside,” I said, smiling. “See ya, around!”

I took one last time to look at the “sight” before I trotted over to Foolscap and urged her to follow me. “You want to leave already? But don’t you want to greet Security and the Stable Dweller?” Still using titles, I see, Foolscap.

I shook my head. “Nah,” I replied, smiling, opening the door to the stairway leading back down from the roof. “I got all the info I need. Based from what we’re seeing right now and that ridiculous drunken expression on Blackjack’s face, I can guess they’ve already succeeded. Tenpony Tower is officially not under death watch anymore.” I grinned.

Foolscap managed to smile as we started going down the stairs. “That’s a relief. I was really worried there when Kerosene said… well, you know.”

“Turns out our heroes are a little more reliable than we thought, eh?”

“Indeed.”

We both turned to see Kerosene, standing in front of us, leaning against the staircase’s railings. “I… saw the display from the window.” His expression still held the same stoicism as ever, but I swear he held the slivers of a smile. “It seems those two have succeeded. Watcher picks his heroes well…” Then, he nickered. “Most of the time, anyway. And that Blackjack looks to have some sanity issues.”

“Watcher?” I asked. “What’s he got to do with them?”

“Watcher looks for heroes everywhere,” Kerosene provided as the three of us started walking back down the stairs, the clip-clopping of our hooves obvious in the empty expanse. “I could practically smell his influence on them.”

“Like how he influenced you?” Foolscap asked, raising an eyebrow.

“More than I’d like to admit,” he said, a scowl appearing on his face briefly. “But yes. I’ll say that I wouldn’t be the pony I am if it weren’t for Watcher. He has a way to get them in trouble, however...” He nickered once more, out of irony. “Being a hero is dangerous work. Watcher’s heroes, even more so. They tend to get killed or worse.”

“Worse?” Foolscap asked.

“Sometimes, they end up in Canterlot. That never ends well for anypony.” Kerosene’s hoof-falls rang a little louder after he said that. Canterlot was something even I didn’t like to think about.

“Canterlot,” I explained. “It was bombed at the end of the war. It’s covered by this deadly Pink Cloud. Kills you outright if you breathe too much of it, from what I hear. Place is basically a huge deathtrap. Most ponies who dare venture in there for the abundant supplies never come back. And most who do end up fused to parts of their gear, permanently disfigured.”

Foolscap shuddered. “That sounds… horrifying.”

“I was never too upset that Watcher just stopped contacting me one day,” Kerosene continued. “I think you can guess why.” He let that statement hang in the air for a moment.

I spoke up after a while. “How did the meeting with the Twilight Society go?”

“It hasn’t happened yet,” he said, sighing. “At least, not in the way we were hoping it would go.”

“What?” I asked. “Why not?”

“I told them about the antics of those two. It got them more than a bit riled up. I came up here to see what was happening. And, when I saw you two going up the stairs, to bring you back down with me.”

Foolscap raised another eyebrow. “Any point to that?”

Kerosene chuckled. “You’ll see soon enough.”

And, oh boy, did we see.

Footnote:

Quest Perk Unlocked: Starstruck -- Being in the presence of Wasteland Heroes has given you a boost to confidence! Your Charisma is permanently increased by one point.

Comments ( 1 )

I wonder what happened, good chapter :yay:

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