• Published 29th Jul 2014
  • 972 Views, 65 Comments

Fallout Equestria: Tales of Transylvania. - MeetSouder



Midnight Wind and Scarlet Rose find themselves in a new world when the inhabitants of Stable 17, forced them to leave. Now in their native land of Thestra "batponies", they begin their journey uncovering the secrets that make up Transylvania

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Chapter Three: Into the Darkness

Chapter Three: Into Darkness.

I woke up to the feeling of cold air rushing through my fur. Before I opened my eyes, for a brief moment, I thought I was in my room in Stable 17, and I had forgotten to turn off the air conditioning unit above my bed. But I knew that was just my imagination, the recent events played in my head, starting from my oh so wonderful dream, all the way to hitting that blasted door and falling unconscious.

Did that all seriously happen yesterday? Was it even still today? I guess I’ll have to find out after all.

Groaning, I slowly opened my eyes, as I lay on my back facing up,

Holy. Celestia.

Above me was an expanse of sinister black, speckled unevenly with little flickering white dots. Something about this scape surpassed me though, as I could tell that those dots were far away. Really, really, far away. Yet the blackness looked as if it was right before my face.

But the only thing that could truly describe it,

“Beautiful.” I mumbled. Staring up at the eternity beyond.

I knew I was looking at the sky, the textbooks at the MSFC all described it in similar fashion. But something about the gargantuan space about me just felt natural, like I was now free from the shackles of the ground that held me prisoner. I resisted the urge explode my wings outwards, and fly as far, and fast as possible. Maybe later, but for now I needed to clarify a few things.

Rolling my head, I looked to my left, my eyes now totally adjusted to the darkness, I saw a landscape far below me, bathed in a monochrome light coming from somewhere above, probably all those little white flecks. I’ve never seen such distances in my life, and I’m going to be honest, it was pretty scary to think that such a large space ever existed. But this odd urge within me told me that what I was looking at, was totally right, and natural. I noticed I was on a ledge, dangerously close actually, and all I had to do was tilt my head further left to see over the side. I saw I was at minimum seven hundred hooves in the air, from the next ledge below, which then gently curved downwards meeting a sickly green colored, forested landscape.

I didn’t cringe, or twitch or really feel any fear at all. Honestly I’ll never understand why some ponies are afraid of being so high up, granted I've never been in a position with such a mighty drop, the experience was new to me. But like everything else about this strange new world. It felt natural to be this high above the forest.

Well I guess that’s where the breeze is coming from, it looks like the air is riding up that slope and then pooling off the edge I’m laying by. I reasoned with myself.

I rolled my head back over to the right, and saw above, about fifty hooves up, the door we burst through.

Quite the fall, I don’t feel any pain besides my right shoulder, and a slight pressure on my chest, so I guess we landed alright. I figured.

We.

The word echoed in my head, bouncing off my clueless thoughts as I suddenly widened my eyes in realization I was not alone in this strange world. Lifting my head up, I saw the pressure on my chest was Scarlet Rose, unconscious, or maybe asleep, but definitely not dead as I could see her back rise and fall with each slow breath tickling my fur. Her head was resting on her forehooves which were gently tucked beneath, as she diagonally laid on me from my right. Her hind legs were bunched up beneath her in the natural crouching position taken when laying down.

Yeah, she must be asleep, that or she fell unconscious in a very comfortable position. Which I seriously doubt. I thought to myself, as my eyes began to slide across her body.

No not because of that reason, okay maybe partially, but only because my eyes are tracing those areas… I’m checking for wounds okay?!

I didn’t see too many external ailments, just a few bruises and light scratches. Her scarlet mane was in a disarrayed mess, no longer neatly tucked behind her ears, but instead sprayed out in front of them and across her face. Relieved I didn’t spot any major wounds, I began to inspect myself, trying not move my body too much as that would awaken Scarlet, who was asleep too peacefully for me to want to disturb.

I definitely noticed a dull ache in my right shoulder, so I started there first. I shifted my head slightly and noticed my sleeve was torn and wrapped around the joint as a makeshift bloodied bandage. I remembered I took a grazing wound there from Super Nova, and I cringed as I rolled the shoulder to test the diameter of movement.

Definitely going to sting for a bit.

I inspected the rest of my body to find myself covered in light scratches and bruises. The shrapnel from those bullets striking the cave wall definitely did a number on my hide. But nothing else besides superficial wounds covered my body, so I really wasn’t concerned.

I flexed both my wings, which were folded up beneath my back, and felt an extremely sharp pain on the right wing near the joint located in middle of the wing, right were my secondary feathers met the alula feathers.

I let out a sharp cry as I flinched from the unexpected pain, accidentally stirring Scarlet, whose breathing quickened as she began to awaken. She then proceeded to let out a huge yawn, raising her top lip and baring her small fangs, simultaneously squeezing her eyes tightly. Moaning from her daze, Scarlet slowly opened her beautiful golden eyes, and I saw her thin pupils grow in size until they were almost completely round like my own, adjusting to the darkness around us. I watched the muscles in her eyes tense as she finally focused on me, blinking a few times to lighten her eyelids.

“Good morning... or should I say good night?” I say with a slight grin, attempting to lighten the mood.

Scarlet’s eyes widen as she looks into mine, and I began to see tears form on the bottoms of her eyelids as she quickly dove down and hugged me in a vice grip.

“Ow, ow, watch the right wing Scar, I think I landed on it when we tumbled out of that door.” I winced.

“Oh my gosh! I’m so sorry!” Scarlet cried out, and quickly got off of me helping me rise to a sitting position.

As I was getting up I gently held my wings taut against my back, wincing at the strain it was putting on the middle joint. Nodding to Scarlet in thanks.

“So what happened while I was out?” I questioned, twitching in rhythm with the pain throbbing in my wing.

Scarlet frowned and began to quickly retell her perspective, “When I saw you weren’t moving after that impact, and I saw the blood pooling beneath you, I freaked out. I thought you were dead or something! But it was only that cut you had on your right shoulder, so I quickly tore off your sleeve and bandaged it up to stop the bleeding.” she took a breath.

“You still weren’t moving, but you were breathing at a normal pace, so I figured you must have been knocked out, probably from the sudden pain on your wing or something. Not knowing what else to do… I kinda, uh, fell asleep on you, as I waited for you to awaken…” Scarlet’s rapidfire rendition slowed down and trailed off as I saw the faintest blush begin to creep up on her dark grey features.

I felt my own face begin to warm as I put two and two together and figured, in order to have fallen asleep on top of me, she must have consciously been laying on my chest waiting for me to stir.

I quickly shook my head to clear my thoughts, as I remembered we had a more serious problem on our hooves we needed to take care of, instead of figuring out why Scarlet liked to snuggle into my chest so often. We were stranded on a ledge, with me being flightless for celestia knows how long, in a different world with no supplies besides the clothes on our backs and our Pipbucks.

“Thanks Scar, honestly I don’t know if I would have been okay had you not done that.” I replied with a sincere smile.

“But we need to figure out what we’re going to do, after what happened in the Stable…” It was my turn to trail off as I began to feel tears run down my face from the events of Super Nova’s execution that replayed in my memories.

Scarlet made a small whining noise in empathy when she spotted my tears glistening in the faint light, and then closed in for a more gentle hug, this time avoiding my right wing. I gratefully accepted it and slowly started to bawl my eyes out into her mane, forgoing my usual pride and relishing in Scarlet’s companionship during my time of severe weakness.

After the final shakes of emotions that racked my body began to ebb, I slowly backed away from Scarlet’s gentle hug, hiccuping and muttering my thanks for her sharing her own emotions with me while I mourned for those that were recently deceased. Liking it or not, I wasn’t the only one there for Scarlet during her times of struggle. But vice versa as well.

When we fully pulled away from each others embrace, I wiped my eyes with my right foreleg returning it to the ground and bringing up my left, which bore the PipBuck3000 just above the hoof. The mini computer sprang to life as the internal components sensed the right angled position, momentarily blinding me with the intense blue backlight from the screen.

Spotting my action, I saw Scarlet begin to do the same in the edge of my vision, as I used my nose to navigate to the “STATS” tab. The screen flickered and displayed a solid pegasus outline mimicking my own body, with a cartoonish frown sprawled across his face and a dotted outline matching the shape of my right wing. The status beneath the wing read “Crippled” and was underlined and flashing.

Gee thanks Pipbuck, I would have never guessed my wing was hurting.

I scrolled to the right within the “STATS” tab and the medical page opened up, with the screen once again refreshing and then displaying the exact reason of said crippled injury.

Compound fracture on the radial bone just before the joint. I read to myself, nodding.

This injury would take a week at minimum to heal naturally, and I doubted I would be able to comfortably fly at any time within that time limit. My eyes drifted to the top right of the small screen, where the time was displayed and it read,

12:26 AM

Well at least it’s tomorrow. Err today... Today’s yesterday? I tried to piece together in my head

Yesterday’s Tomorrow. My consciousness reminded me.

Nodding to myself in agreement I didn’t even bother to check the rest of the tabs my Pipbuck had to offer, knowing all too well I had no other items, nor any data stored into the computer’s memory that would be useful.

I let my left hoof fall and rejoin my right as it once again helped support my weight. I stood up to all fours and looked over to Scarlet, who was busy poking her own pipbuck with her nose.

“How’s your status?” I inquired as I watched her gently smash her face against the buttons like i had not long ago.

“Not too bad actually, I feel fine, and the little mare on my screen looks like she agrees.” Scarlet smirked looking up and dropping her own hoof as well.

She continued, “But what now? We can’t stay on this ledge forever, having survived our ordeal only to die from our bloody incapability to move.” she grimaced at my wing, then looked down over the ledge to her right, mimicking my own non-fearful reaction.

Being skyborne creatures, Transylvanians shared the same characteristics as a pegasus. Heights mean nothing more than another distance to take account for, similar to how looking far away over to the horizon is none greater scary to an earth pony or unicorn. Scarlet, being pure Transylvanian and myself, being a mixture between that and a pegasus, we didn’t have much trouble dealing with our altitude. The problem, however, remained in the fact I couldn't simply glide down with my lame wing.

I scanned around us for a moment taking in our surroundings. We were perched on an outcropping of the steep, near-vertical slopes of the mountain that Stable 17 was built into. The current ledge we sat on extended into the side of the mountain, creating a half covered “roof” effect overhead. The cave entrance we barreled out of remained high above on a separate, more shallow ledge. I traced the natural platform with my eyes trying to spot some form of pathway that the earth ponies and unicorns had to have taken in order to enter the stable all those years ago during the bombings.

“Oi, there! On the lit-le edge, facing the right side.” Scarlet Rose pointed out, her accent coming into play on the double consonant sound. She reached out, indicating the location with her hoof as she careened her neck upward to focus on it.

Spotting the pathway, I traced it down where it zig-zagged onto our ledge, following the interior wall of the half cave, half ledge we stood and sat on, and then back down once again on a narrow ledge descending down the mountain.

“Well there’s our path down. Shall we?” I asked as I waved a hoof smoothly and dramatically towards the pathway, like a gentlecolt indicated she go first.

“Better now than never.” Scarlet replied with a giggle.

The lighthearted and beautiful sound of her laughter being the first sign of happiness I saw and felt come out of Scarlet since Super Nova announced my test score to the Stable.

Those test scores now seemed like such a meaningless thing as I thought about what had to be done to ensure our survival. I quickly followed suit behind Scarlet Rose, cautiously watching my hoofing on the narrow path.

When we cleared the overhanging rock and began our descent, I peered up one last time into the night sky and I got a good look, for the first time, at the moon which was now sitting high above us. I knew it was the moon, simply because the image that adorned my flanks was mirrored exactly in the sky above.

A crescent waning moon partially obscured by a lone cloud slowly crossing, being pushed along by the midnight wind.

<><><>

I crumpled into a heap of sweaty, and utterly exhausted pony as Midnight and I finally reached the bottom of that blasted mountain.

Eww, I can feel my fur sticking to my skin all grossly and ugh. I moaned to myself internally as I encountered my pet peeve.

I flicked my head to the left side to get my equally sweaty and gross scarlet mane out of my eyes. Then I sat up, and balanced myself as I reached both forelegs up and adjusted my bow back into place, by extension securing my mane in place once again, and preventing it from falling out and getting all up in my face.

Falling down to all four hooves and sitting up again, I began to notice the frigid temperature were we sat at the base of the mountain, as it caused me to shiver involuntarily due to being covered in sweat. I saw my breath form small puffs out in front of my muzzle as I thought,

How did the bloody air get this much colder by descending the mountain? Is’t it supposed to be the other way around?

I began to glare evilly at the puffs of air leaving my nose with every breath and sighed, giving up my miniature staring contest with the inanimate objects, and looked to my right towards Midnight. He was sitting up on his flanks, with his brow all scrunched up and staring at nothing in particular as he always did when thinking about something deeply.

I barely stifled a laugh, and felt it release as a small giggle as I saw him sitting there, seriously concentrating on restraining his movement, yet shivering ever so slightly, and flicking his ears in irritation at his uncontrollable movements.

“I hate shivers and the cold and this mountain and ughhh” Midnight gave in and sighed. Throwing his head back looking straight up the steep slopes of the mountain.

“It’s odd that it got so damn cold down here, compared to up there. I wonder why that is?” He asked the sky.

Shrugging, I looked around us to get a feeling of where we were exactly. Having just gotten off the path, the miniature hill that was the trail head turned into a small dirt road that wound between thick gigantic plants. They were dark colored in the center, and branched out covered in sickly green, thin pointed needles. These enormous things were everywhere ahead of us, their tops being well over a hundred hooves above our heads.

I squinted my eyes trying to peer between the densely packed overgrowth, but I couldn’t make out any further into the forest, no matter where I looked around me following the circumference of our small clearing. I turned back to Midnight, who had, by this point, slowly extended his right wing, and was currently inspecting the joint.

I widened my eyes at his carelessness. “It’s never going to heal if you keep tossing it about like that! Leave the bugger alone.” I exclaimed as Midnight quickly looked up at me, a guilty expression bore across his features.

“But it itches! I need to preen my feathers again after they got all messed up from the fall. Besides I wanted to make sure I didn’t cut it or something” Midnight retorted in defense for his lack of self preservation.

I sighed as I stood up and trotted over to, and around his front, stopping at his right wing and plopping myself down next to him.

“Hold still then, you’re just going to hurt yourself further if you keep moving it about to reach your feathers.” I commanded and reached my head down to his wing, as I began preening his feathers for him.

Though my wings were comprised of thick membrane to assist me in flight, the MSFC back at the Stable taught all ponies in the facility how to properly preen feathers, given how almost everypony was a mixture of races, it was necessary to learn in the event that I had a filly or colt that had feathers and needed assistance in her or his early years.

As I continued to happily nibble and lick his loose feathers, effectively removing them to allow the new ones to come in, or straightening out the bigger primary and secondary feathers, I heard Midnight release a strained whimper to my right. Figuring I accidentally hurt him from putting too much pressure on his wing, I quickly snapped my eyes up to meet his. I began to feel a blush slowly creep up on my cheeks as I sat there, mid lick on one of this secondaires, as I saw he too was blushing quite brightly.

I slowly retracted my tongue, evidently dragging it across the entire length of the feather I was currently working on, as I felt my cheeks grow warmer and warmer as we held eye contact.

“I- Is there a problem M-Middy?” I stuttered, my cheeks now burning up from the awkwardness of the situation.

“Ehheh, uhh, none at all, please... Feel free t-to continue Scar…” Midnight replied, barely able to keep his eyes locked with mine without shaking.

I nodded slowly, and continued where I left off, this time blushing hotly.

Oh Celestia dammit Middy, why do you have to make such a simple tasks so damn awkward?! I thought to myself, not in anger, but sheer confusion as I couldn’t help but recall his actions back at Stable 17’s orchard.

When Midnight revealed his true feelings about our friendship in his outburst, it took me off guard. So much so I was too scared that I wouldn’t know how to react properly, and my fear instinct told me to get away as fast as possible.

I mentally sighed as I thought about my reaction, It probably wasn’t the best thing I could have done, and I know I probably caused poor Middy to think he did something wrong. Which he seriously did not. Maybe if I had steeled my nerves I could have faced him better and explained how I felt as well.

It wasn’t as if I didn’t like what Middy said, actually to be honest, I felt a warmth spreading through me when I heard his words. I guess I just got scared when I realized that was the first time I ever looked at him in a different way, other than a friend. I never felt feelings like that before for anypony and to feel them for the first time, for my best friend? It was almost too much for me to handle.

Thankfully, or maybe not, the events as of late brought us together again, and it was enough to distract us from our relationship issues. But if Middy kept on acting like he was right now, dammit, I think we’ll have to really sit down and talk about our feelings of each other sooner than I’d like to.

I cringed at the thought of having to confront my growing feelings for him, even though I knew it was mutual. I just didn’t understand enough about how I felt, and I needed to really know what was going on before I wanted to go any further with it. But I knew one thing for certain, I was very quickly falling for my best friend.

“Uhh Scar, as much as I appreciate what you’re doing, I think you finished a few minutes ago, that feather is going to fall right out if you keep that up.” Midnight nervously spoke, breaking my thoughts, as I continued to repeatedly lick the same last tertiary by his wing joint that met his back.

Shite! I was distracted by my thoughts. I quickly raised my head and backed away blushing, accidentally bumping his wounded joint on the ascension. I heard Midnight squeak out a small sound in pain and he flinched his wing closed against his back, probably really hurting his wing further.

“Ahh! I’m so sorry Middy! I was distracted, are you okay? Did I hurt you too badly? Oh celestia I can only imagine how much that must hurt right now.” I blurted out not knowing what to do.

Real smooth Scar, while thinking intimate thoughts about him, and doing such an intimate thing to him, you finish it up by bumping into his fractured wing. I mentally facehooved.

Midnight slowly nodded, clenching his eyes closed as he probably waited for the pain to go away. Yeah, I definitely need to be more careful if I have to do that again.

“It’s fine, we’re all fine, just a bit of pain, not biggie. Gimme a moment here.” Midnight said behind clenched teeth, trying to sound happy around his pain.

I sat quietly still looking down, waiting for my face to cool off in the chilly air. I focused on the bed of dead pine needles that seemed to make up the floor of this forest to.

Heh, it’s kinda comfy, like a blanket or carpet. I thought smiling and bouncing on my hind hooves a little. Oh yeah, right Midnight in pain.

*Snap*

“Eep!” I squeaked out in fear from the noise that came from behind me in the forest. I quickly bolted around Midnight, and huddled behind his body looking over his shoulders at the source of the sound. “Did you hear that?! I bet you it’s a bloody messed up monster thats going to eat us and kill us, but eat us first, somehow not killing us, then killing us after it ate us!” I shrieked into Midnight’s ear.

Midnight for his part seemed to be unphased as he let out a chuckle and patted my head condescendingly. “Nah don’t worry Scar, I bet you the wind just rustled the branches of those trees or something” he said nonchalantly

Oh so those are trees. Wow that’s lame. I always thought they’d be more… well, colourful.

*CRACKLE*

Oh hey, that’s what they sound like when they fall over, wow they’re really thick. I reasoned. Wait…

“GAH MIDDY THE WIND DOESN'T DO THAT!!” I yelled even louder, bracing a hoof against his back, the other suspended in the air, bent down slightly to keep my balance as I let only my eyes peek over.

“Shit, okay you’re totally right. Uh, uhhh run?” Midnight offered, this time his eyes now wide with fear like my own.

“YES LET’S RUN, LUNADAMMIT.” I cried as I slapped his back with my suspended hoof for his stupidity, and started pushing him towards the dirt road that lead into the forest.

We bolted onto the road, and galloped as fast as our hooves could take us in the dark forest. Even with my night vision the thick canopy overhead blocked out the stars and the moon, so it was dark. I hate. The dark.

*POP*

“RICE CRISPIES MUTHABUCKAS!” Something unequine sounding roared behind us as we both picked up our pace.

I stole a glance behind us, and immediately regretted doing so. The most horrifically grotesque, twisted shape of a huge ass earth pony with nothing but skin and muscle barely attached to its bones plowed through the trees, which were popping and cracking as they toppled over. This thing wore cereal boxes around it’s body, mimicking some kind of body armour, but sewn together with what looked like… Intestines…

“I’M GOING TO EAT YOU AND KILL YOU, BUT EAT YOU FIRST, NOT KILLING YOU, THEN I WILL KILL YOU AFTER I EAT YOU!” The zombie pony roared as it began to gallop after us at an alarmingly fast pace.

“I TOLD YOU MIDDY!” I screamed, feeling tears build up in the edges of my vision from the bitterly cold wind slapping my face and from fear of my imminent death.

“Why the BUCK did it explain what it’s going to do to us? That’s so stupid! And what’s with the cereal box armor? If I wasn’t so scared for my life I’d just turn around and laugh at that thing!” Midnight yelled ahead of me, turning his head to look over his shoulder

“Did you hear that you dumb zombie pony?! I would laugh at you if you weren’t so incredibly messed up and scary!” Midnight yelled, only to be greeted by a louder roar as the burly earth pony zombie thing charged forward even faster, slowly gaining onto us.

“Don’t tease it! you’re only getting it more rattled, what the bloody hell did you think that was gonna do? Make it stop?!” I shrieked, my voice cracking on the last word.

“Just keep running! I think I have a plan!” Midnight yelled back to me as the winding road took a sudden left turn.

That buck never has a good plan!

“Okay see that fork in the road? I can see it separates then meets back together on the other side. You go left and I’ll go right, and if we can get this thing riled up enough, it won’t be able to change it’s direction quickly, and slam into those giant trees, it might give us enough time to run away.” Midnight yelled over the howling wind that blew into our faces from galloping full speed.

I squinted my eyes to peer into the near-blackness ahead. I could see what he was talking about, the road separated around an “island” of ancient trees, creating a hoofball shaped outcropping that we could quickly dodge around.

“This better work Middy! I don’t want to die out here!” I cried out to my dear friend as he nodded in agreement.

“SLOW DOWN TINY BATS I JUST WANT TO RIP OFF YOUR WINGS!” The beast hollard from behind us, now becoming uncomfortably close as I began to feel it’s huge hoofsteps shudder into the ground.

“Oi! If you want em’ so badly why not come here and take em’ off of my back you bloody twat!” I cried out behind be, just before we reached the split.

“Now! go left!” Midnight commanded as he broke to the right.

I sprinted off towards the leftmost path, the dirt road becoming noticeably thinner as I followed the circumference of the elliptical shaped tree stand. The trees around me so dense they seemed to form a tunnel as I picked up my pace. Soon the thick walls of pine needles obscured my vision and blocked almost all sound, as I could only hear the soft rhythmic “pats” my hoof steps made on the cushiony pine floor. I focused on the dim light at the other end of the tunnel and pressed onward. When I cleared the tunnel I rapidly turned my head around me to try and spot Midnight.

Dammit if we were going the same pace we should have met up on this side of the road! Where the buck did he go?! I thought to myself slowing to a stop.

Worry started to creep up into my heart when seconds passed, I feared he might have gotten separated, or worse. The eerie silence of the forest bearing down on me as I began to shake from cold, exhaustion and fear of the pressing darkness.

“...aaaaaaaaaAAAHHHH!!!!”

I whipped my head to the right as saw Midnight burst out of the dark hole that made up the rightmost path. I let out a sigh of relief that he was okay, then quickly joining his yelling as the Cereal box Monster blasted through the hole behind him.

“I thought you said it couldn’t turn quick enough to follow us?!” I screamed as my wings beat the air, lifting me off the ground as I sped next to Midnight.

My fastest form of travel being flight, it was pretty natural for me to instinctively take off when I was scared. Though I had to force myself to stay back with Midnight, since he couldn’t exactly keep up with me, I simply couldn’t gallop any longer, my legs were too fatigued.

“I thought it wouldn’t! But it stayed onto me like a bucking homing missile!” Midnight cried up to me.

Shit it’s only twenty hooves away from us now, how could it be moving that quickly?!

Just as I began to think we were out of luck, I spotted faint lights poking between the thinning branches of the forest. The ground far beneath my flightpath started to incline upwards as I noticed the forest was spreading out to a clearing up ahead.

I looked down at Midnight who was visibly exhausted, his breath coming out in steady puffs of vapor in front of him, then sliding past his rapidly flexing and releasing muscles as he pushed himself through the thick, chilling air.

“Middy I can see the path clearer from up here, it leads to a clearing not far ahead! I think I see lights, we might be able to think of something if those lights are attached to buildings!” I yelled out with newfound hope.

Midnight grunted in agreement as he pushed himself further, determination overtaking his past fearful expression.

Blimey that expression suits him. It makes him look so… wow.

I shook my head clearing my distracted thoughts, dammit now isn’t exactly the time to be thinking about how I fancy Midnight’s looks. I decreased my altitude to get below the shrinking canopy as the trees began to get shorter and younger the further we galloped away from the more ancient center of the forest.

Suddenly the trees disappeared altogether, replaced by a field of sickly dead grass that stretched around in a huge, mile wide circle, completely surrounded by forest in all directions. The dirt path winding straight to what caught my eye: a group of buildings that appeared to be a town of sorts up ahead, smack dab in the middle of the clearing.

Golden Hearth’s Warming Eve lights were woven between the mixture of makeshift shacks and ancient, well taken care of, buildings. The light’s spread across the entire town, often coming to a break when attached to a pole, the wires feeding into a micro-spark battery, then continuing on to illuminate elsewhere within the village. The grimey windows of homes adorning flickering candles on the inside, and the silhouettes of ponies able to be seen behind. The dirt roads spider webbed around the center of the town outwards, with what looked like shops and kiosks having been set up on the lower floors of the old pre-war houses. The houses were a dirty off white, with the dark wooden beams visible from the side. Shattered shingles dotted the rooftops, which often sported dark tarps to further waterproof the interior. The circular town must have stretched a good quarter mile in diameter, nothing to be proud of, but by far the most beautiful sight I could have asked as of that moment. The scene bringing back memories of pictures I’ve seen in old textbooks, of a place somewhere in southern equestria where the ponies of Hoofland lived in a basin, their only protection being dikes built up around their city, where some colt stuck his hoof on a leak saving the whole population.

The exterior of the town was surrounded by a set of wooden towers, every hundred or so hooves from one another, I could see each roofed tower contained the silhouette of a guard, as we got closer to the town.

“Holy… Shit… I wasn’t… Expecting this…” Midnight said, between heavy breaths as we galloped and flew towards one of the guard towers.

The Cereal Box Warrior was now only a few hooves behind us, and I could feel it snap at my tail, which was conveniently at headheight, barely missing by inches.

“C’mon Middy we’re almost to the perimeter maybe they can help us!” I cried just as I heard the air crackle beneath me and above Midnight’s head.

The report of a medium calibre, probably 30-30, rifle shot shortly followed the supersonic bullet, as it echoed off the large prairie ground around us. The sound dissipating into the thick brush of the forest surrounding the perimeter.

The zombie pony collapsed behind us in a barreling heap, slowly coming to a stop, not even twitching as it lay dead. A hole clean through it’s flimsy thin skull and tissue. Midnight took this moment to slow to a canter as he attempted to catch his breath. I landed beside him, no longer fearing my legs couldn’t keep up, as we trotted closer to the town.

“Oi! That was some shot eh?” I heard a low singsong voice come out of the tower fifty or so hooves before us. Only the silhouette of a stallion was shown, since the guard towers stood in front of the lights.

“Nah lad, I bet ye fifty caps I could have taken that one in half the tyme you did.” A second, also male voice echoed across from the guard tower to our left.

“Aw shut your trap you tosser! I just saved these two ponies lives with a miracle shot. I think that deserves some respect from your pissy ass!” the first guard retorted, sounding pretty upset.

“Ye waited till the damsel n‘er buck were not but a hundred bleeding hooves away before ye could steady yer own shakin’ legs to take that one.” the second guard called out into the night chuckling, clearly enjoying his ability to piss off the first.

“You are so dead when I get off duty mate, mark my words I’m gonna throw one right in your bloody gabber you celestia damned, shitty ass, bleeding cunt, ya hear me…”

The entire time I couldn’t help but burst out laughing from their bickering as we passed the towers and their voices faded into the night. When we got to the front of town, or what I could only assume was the front since we were on the only dirt path that lead out of the town, I let Midnight sit down and regain his composure after that crazy sprint for our lives. Panting heavily, he straightened his tie, and patted down his now mud-stained and wrinkled shirt. I decided to fix my bow again, since the bloody thing always came loose.

Once satisfied my mane wasn’t going to poke my eyes out, I nudged Midnight’s side with my right hip. “Did’ja hear that? ‘The damsel and her buck’, looks like I’m the one in charge here mate.” I snickered as I watched Midnight’s ears fold back in irritation.

After he finally caught his breath and opened his mouth, probably to make some sarcastic comment, his eyes widened and he took my shoulder and turned me to face a sign that overhung the road. What shocked me more than the overall rudeness of the sign, was simply the location it stated we were in.

The stained and varnished wooden sign was supported by two beams on either side, suspended by thin cable above our heads maybe fifteen hooves up. Written in ancient faded and chipping paint the welcome sign also had words, scribbled in not so ancient black marker, underneath;

"Welcome to the Transylvanian renaissance fair! Bat-ponies welcome!"

We were in the province of Transylvania, the ancestral homeland to both Midnight and I.

* * *

I’m half a bat-pony. That counts right? I thought to myself, as Scarlet and I both acknowledged the sign.

It was odd, I never would have guessed that Stable 17 was actually built in Transylvania, I knew half the population originally was from the province, but I figured that Stable-Tec wouldn’t want to have to deal with building it so far west in equestria. It must have been a serious hassle to ship all of the construction parts across the continent.

Then again, I never suspected I lived in giant-ass vertical mountain with a crazy madmare plotting to take charge. The world is just full of surprises. Scarlet and I trotted past the sign and just barely made it passed the first shops on either side of us,

“Stop right there criminal scum!” A gruff stallion’s voice sounded from down the street, heavily laced with a Braytish accent.

Scarlet and I turned as we looked up the street to the guard pony pushing his way through the bat-ponies that mingled in the dimly lit streets. He was a dark grey, near black, coated bat-pony, unsurprisingly, and he had a dark maroon mane, shoved up underneath a classical lunar guard helmet; a black piece of metal with engraved crescent moons on the sides, resembling the Roaman soldier’s style. I couldn’t see his cutie mark, since he wore some pretty heavy duty black painted combat armour sporting a poorly spray-stenciled, red rose bud and green stem on the chest on his right side. Slung across his back was a decently maintained IS-700 bolt action rifle. It had a black synthetic stock and some high visibility fiber optic night sights on it.

I wasn’t even moving away from him… I thought to myself after hearing him cry out such a ridiculous phrase.

“You’ve violated…” the guard trailed off as he noticed both my own, and Scarlet’s ‘no-shits given’ expression. Coming to a stop before us he continued,

“Aww shite I ne-er get to use that line... YOU! Come wit’ me, your kind ain’t accepted here.” The guard pointed a hoof to me.

Momentarily confused, I remembered the sign at the front of the town as I came to realization of what he meant.

“My kind? You’re kidding me right? I’m just as much of a Transylvanian as you are!” I yelled in disdain.

“Your wings say otherwise you liar.” This guard clearly wasn’t that intelligent, I can see why he was placed on duty to patrol the streets.

“Do you see my ears? Or maybe was it the fangs that didn’t give it away?” I said wiggling my ears, and then raised my top lip, bearing my fangs.

Scarlet, as usual in situations like this, was pressing up against my side, her ears thrown back as she looked at me with a worried expression.

“Don’t matter you’re coming with me. Maybe sit-in’ in prison will help you rethink your poor decisions.” He said, roughly grabbing my left foreleg and dragging me towards the general direction of a grey, single story building. A sign hung out front proud displaying,

"Ye Old Dungeon."

“What the actual buck?! I didn’t do anything! I just walked into town, what if I wanted to trade with your merchants and drive your damn economy?!” I yelled out. My eyes darting to Scarlet who almost toppled over from the lack of my presence by her side.

“Oi! Wait, hold on! Middy didn’t do anything! He and I came into town together when your guards saved our hides!” Scarlet quickly recovered, galloping up to us, and hitting her forelegs against mine and the guards to separate us.

“Oh I’m sorry miss, I di-n’t know this one was your property.” The guard quickly released me, winking to Scarlet as his eyes traced Scarlet’s body, causing her to shiver in disgust.

I took my left foreleg back with force glaring at him.

Property? Seriously? You can’t own ponies.

“What are you talking about? Midnight is my friend. We just entered into this town.” Scarlet retorted, voicing my own question.

“You’re tellin’ me this pegasus is your mate and not your slave? What the fock is wrong with you?” The guard questioned, quickly turning sides against Scarlet and giving us both a glare now.

“I'm not anypony’s slave why the heck would you force somepony to work for you?! Besides I told you, I’m Transylvanian just like you!” I yelled, my patience with this guard was seriously wearing thin. What the buck with wrong with him to believe Scarlet owned me?

“Be silent you mongrel! You’re nothin’ but a bloody halfbreed. Here at Renaissance we only accept Transylvanians.” The bastard of a guard spat at me.

Oh for the love of Celestia herself, how many times am I going to have to explain to this dipshit I’m just as transylvanian as he is?!

By now, many of the bat-ponies that were in the streets either shopping or running errands stopped to see what the commotion was about. Occasionally a mother would nudge her filly or colt away, wanting to spare them the sight of our conflict. When I thought about it, why were so many ponies in the streets at this time of the night, with little fillies and colts of all things? It was like one in the morning.

Our commotion also brought other unwanted attention as a group of four guards who were previously standing by one of the towns many house-kiosks to our left began to make their way over to us. They were similarly dressed, armed with IS-700 rifles, they also had what looked like some form of semi-automatic handgun holstered on their right forelegs, I’ll have to remember to ask Scarlet what model those were.

But it was their insignia that was the defining difference from the idiotic guard that stood before us. An outline of a beautiful golden rose in full blossom was engraved on their own top right sides of their chest pieces with white stems engraved just below. The stallion currently leading them had one of similar design, but instead of being gold engraved, it was inlaid in a dazzling mother of pearl.

The guards’ armor and equipment making audible clicking and clacking noises as they made their way across the dirt road, their hooves muffled by the combat boots that protected them.

“Oi, what’s th’ problem here Private Starshine? This lad and lassie givin’ ye trouble?” The leading guard asked in a low, northern Braytish accent as he came to a stop next to, who I now knew was Starshine, and started looking me and Scarlet over.

He stood a few inches above me, and was clearly far more muscular, with a grey-blue dark coat, similar to my own, but his being duller due to him not having any pegasus blood like I did. Since he and none of the other guards with him were wearing helmets, I could see his mane was a short cut black with grey spread throughout it displaying his age, his tail similar in color, and extending beyond his armor and stopping halfway to the ground. Around his eyes he had the wrinkles of a pony who has been smiling a lot throughout his ears. Finally, his armor was the same, what I guessed to be standard issue, black combat armor, but it was in far better shape, and reflected the soft dim lights that hung overhead between the houses. He and I matched our golden eyes at each other as I began to speak.

“Your Private Starshine here was trying to throw me in jail for no crime I committed.” I said evenly, shooting a glare at the imbecilic pony to my right.

“I wasn't asking you lad, but I’ll take yer infermation nont’less.” The mother of pearl guard cut in, shortly after I finished.

“Captain Borealis, this pegasus here claims he’s one o’ us! But the twat has bloody feathers! I say we throw him in th’prison for trespassing!” Starshine growled at me.

“I don’t see any pegasus here Private, all I see are two bright n’ young Transylvanians just like you n’ I. Now take that pissy arse o’ yers n’ continue yer patrol around the bleeding perimeter.” Captain Borealis commanded as he pointed a hoof down towards the guard towers. Starlight promptly saluted and about faced, cantering off to our right, muttering obscenities under his breath.

“I’m sorry you and yer lassie had to expedience our, ah, welcoming committee there.” Borealis apologized with a more gentle tone. Looking between me and Scarlet then back again as something clicked in his head.

“Wait are you the two that Lieutenant Dusk saved from that ghoul, not but ten minutes ago?” Borealis asked, looking over his shoulder to one of the three golden rose guards.

Behind him, a stallion with a dark grey-red coat and medium lengthed white mane, which partially covered his golden eyes nodded and flashed us a smile. One I returned gratefully, but it was short lived as I heard Scarlet begin to speak

“Thanks for that save mate, I don’t know if Middy would have made it any further with that, ghoul did’ja call it? Whatever it was, that blooming thing would have taken him down had the shot come any second later.” Scarlet enthusiastically blurted out stepping closer to Dusk. Where’d that sudden change of heart come from?

“No problem mi’lady, anything to help such a pretty mare such as yourself,” Dusk smoothly replied with a flirtatious smile. Scarlet blushed slightly at the compliment and nodded again in thanks.

Oooh I don’t like this guy all of a sudden, and he’s like, bucking thirty! That’s like twelve years older than Scar!

Sure I should have been thankful he saved our lives, otherwise there wouldn’t be a Scarlet to be jealous for. But dammit I was jealous! Clearing my throat loudly I continued, stepping forward separating Scarlet and Dusk,

“What was Starshine’s issue with me being half pegasus? And he was surprised I wasn’t Scarlet’s slave, what was up with that?” I asked, genuinely confused why ponies would need slaves.

Borealis sighed “Look here laddie, why don’t you and yer marefriend come on down to the town pub, where we can get ye something to put in yer stomach and settle that curious mind of yers?” motioning to the town he and, what I guessed were the officers of the militia, were standing before our kerfuffle with Starshine.

-“He’s not my coltfriend”

-“She’s not my marefriend” Scarlet and I both hastily replied and blushed brightly together.

We both looked at each others eyes then quickly looked back to Borealis

-“Just take us there, that sounds like a good idea.”

-“I’d love to have something to drink and eat, thanks mate.” We replied at the same time, once again looking at each other in confusion.

Borealis turned around as he heartily chuckled to his fellow officers “Ah young love, dontcha boys remember those days? Me and me wife used to be just as smitten as these two here.”

The other officers all chuckled in a low toned chorus, then murmuring something in a mixture of agreement and farewell as they broke formation either heading back to their post, or what I would assume their homes since they were now off duty.

Feeling my face burn up for the billionth time that day, I followed Borealis as we headed towards the pub. Scarlet not far behind, looking down at the road as we trotted along and biting her lower lip with her fangs, her signature sign of deep thought. I slowed my pace a little and fell in line with her, bumping my hip against hers

“Scar you okay?” I asked, genuinely concerned something was worrying her. Considering how quickly everything was happening these last two days, I wasn’t surprised she would be overwhelmed. Heck, I was barely able to keep up with this… well this wasteland really, that we found ourselves suddenly thrown into.

Scarlet suddenly looked up at me, her blush slowly returning as she looked away again

“Oh! I’m totally fine Middy, I’m just uh, tired is all. Yeah, you know, we haven’t gotten a wink of sleep since yesterday night.” Scarlet replied hastily grinning cheekily

Sure and I’m a cow. I sarcastically remarked in my head, obviously she was lying and something else was on her mind, but I didn’t want to push her now. There was time for that later.

“Alright, but let me know if something’s ever bothering you okay? We’re in this crazy world together, and I’m not about to let my best friend go all crazy on me because she didn’t share her thoughts.” I reply, giving her as warm of a smile as I could muster.

Scarlet returned the gesture with a genuinely heartfelt smile of her own, her eyes closing with friendliness.

“C’mon you two lover doves, this blasted door isn’t going to hold itself open all night.” Borealis called out to us from the pub entrance, guffawing to himself again as her entered. Scarlet and I quickly cantered after him and entered the pre-war Hoofland styled building.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. A mixture of warm, sweet smelling alcohol and the tangy scent of fruit mixing together as a cocktail as it wafted about the room. The room itself was a spacious rectangular room, with the second floor half visible above as a balcony dominated the ceiling. The balcony stretched over from the wall immediately to my right up and over to halfway across the room to my left. Beyond the balcony, the triangular ceiling rose all the way to the second story, leaving the walls on that side of the room tall and mighty, the dark wooden beams that cris-crossed visible from the sides. The main color of the room was dark brown, as the stained and varnished wood made up most of the furniture, ceiling and paneling along the walls. A set of stairs in front of me, against the far wall, led to the balcony and the rest of the second floor. The bar was immediately to my front, from where I stood in the entrance, and I had a side profile view as the bar faced to my left, starting from the rightmost wall and curving along the corner, partially going underneath a cutout in the staircases’ base.

All around throughout the room, bat-pony mares and stallions conversed, discussed business or simply sat and ate at the many round, stained and polished, wooden tables. The bar itself was decently occupied as ponies hailed down drinks from three bartenders who were busy making a variety of alcoholic beverages.

What struck me as odd, however, was the fact every single one of the ponies were armed. Sporting anything from revolvers to semiautomatic pistols, bolt action rifles to submachine guns. Everypony had some form of self defence strapped, holstered, or leaning against their side as they continued about their merry way. Back at Stable 17, firearms were strictly limited to the Security ponies, as the threat of some crazy pony murdering someone was too risky in the confined stable.

Borealis found a cleared table and beckoned us over with a hoof. Reaching back over his shoulder and pulling off his IS-700 rifle, he gently set it down on the floor next to the wrap around cushin where ponies were supposed to sit. With his armor making it’s signature clinking and clacking sound, he promptly sat down with a huge sigh.

As we approached the table and sat down across from him, with Scarlet not far off to my right, Borealis waved down a dark red-grey waitress with a pink mane, who brightened up upon having a new customer to serve.

“Oi Cherry, just get me the usual Wild Pegasus. And fix up something nice for the two youngin’s here, keep the tab open too.” Cherry nodded flashing a quick smile to Scar and me as she cantered past and disappeared behind the bar to go grab our meals.

“So allow me to properly introduce meself; Aurora Borealis, captain of the Renaissance rose night watch. I never got yer names properly, might I ask what they be?” Aurora asked, acknowledging Scarlet first out of politeness.

“It’s nice to meet you Aurora, thanks for saving us from that insufferable buck. My name’s Scarlet Rose and this is my friend Midnight Wind.” Scarlet replied quietly, gesturing to me. At least she was opening up to conversation with new ponies.

“I can answer my own name Scar, come on. Yeah, I’m Midnight Wind as you so formally heard.” I whined and answered lamely, why’d Scar have to steal all the fun?

Chuckling at my display and nodding Aurora continued looking at me this time,

“So lad to answer your question about why Starlight was so sour about you being a pegasus, he hates the Enclave, they killed his family when he was but a wee colt.” He finished with a dry smile, looking to be as if what he said explained everything.

Just as I was about to ask my follow up, Cherry returned with a full tray balanced on her back. She reached behind her and set it down on the table, using her teeth to deposit a bottle of amber colored fluid with a fancy black label which read “Wild Pegasus Brand whiskey: Brewing since Tidus Star 12!” next to Aurora followed by three short glasses. Then finally two metal plates, containing boxes of preserved “FancyLad Snack cakes” as it read, and a random assortment of pale colored fruits.

My stomach was too hungry from deprivation for me care about Celestia knows how many preservatives were jam packed into the cakes to keep them fresh for all these years. I quickly opened the box and spilled out the four individually wrapped cakes. Scarlet doing the same onto hers, clearly equally as famished. I paused and watched as Aurora poured a glass full of whiskey and glady downed it like water, smiling as if it didn’t burn like hell going down. Damn.

Looking back to my food, these cakes apparently were strawberry flavoured as the thin layer of frosting coating the hexagonal cakes was light pink and sprinkled with a rainbow of, well, sprinkles. I eagerly unwrapped one and popped the whole thing in my mouth. My eyes bulged with disgust

Blech these thing’s taste like plasticy fake strawberry devil spawn! Nope! Just no.

I internally noped out as I painfully swallowed it down and looked at the other three in disdain, how could ponies enjoy that shit? I peeked over to Scarlet, who for her part was happily munching away on her own strawberry, nast filled, shitcakes. She clearly was enjoying them to no end since her eyes were closed with joy as she took bite after bite.

“Scar you actually like these things?” I asked in horror. Scarlet peeked open an eye and focused on me, quickly swallowing her current bite on her third cake.

“Buck yeah! These little gifts from heaven are the best tasting things I’ve ever had in my life!” She answered enthusiastically. Taking another nibble from the cake in both her hooves.

“I think they’re pretty decent, how could you not fancy the fancy snack cakes, lad?” Aurora chuckled as he made the lame pun. Already downing his fifth glass of whiskey on a whim. Northern Brayts, I swear their stomachs were made of lead.

“Seriously you two? These are terrible, here you can have mine Scar.” I said pushing the vile things away from me.

Scarlet’s eyes widened with glee as I pushed the cakes onto her plate. Apparently that was a pretty huge gesture for her, because she proceeded to squee out a cheer and quickly planted a strawberry flavoured kiss on my right cheek.

“Omigosh thank you Middy!” she cried out afterwards and quickly wolfed down the fourth cake she was currently working on, thankfully slowing down after that before she gave herself a hernia or something.

As Aurora burst out with his deep laughter, I promptly felt the oh-so-familiar heat return to my face, starting on the spot where she landed her intimate thanks. With a stupid grin splayed across my features, I reached my head down and began taking bites of my pale reddish apple. A much better choice of food if I’d say so myself.

When Aurora’s hearty laughter finally settled, and my face wasn’t the furnace that it usually was around Scarlet, I finally remembered my question. Swallowing my bite of apple I inquired,

“Uhh so what’s the Enclave?”

Aurora, taken off guard mid swig from the bottle, having given up on the shots after the seventh, sputtered as he tried to swallow the amber drink and regain his composure.

“I’m sorry laddie I don’t think I properly heard ya. Could ye run that by me one more tyme?” Aurora swiveled both ears forward to hear me to the best of his capability.

“Oh, yeah I asked what the Enclave was, are they a group of ponies?” I repeated

Aurora looked to me in bewilderment, then to Scarlet, who was now slowly nibbling her fifth cake in both hooves, her curious expression similar to mine.

“What, did both ye youngin’s just recently take a tumble out of a Stable or something?” Aurora joked, smiling as he waited for our reactions.

Once again Aurora’s face dropped as he stared at us in bewilderment. “Yer kidding, which Stable? When? Where? I’ve never seen a Stable pony in me life! Hay, I didn’t even know they had a Stable for ponies like us.” It was Aurora’s turn to ask the questions now I guess.

“Uh nope, we’re serious, Stable 17.” I replied, taking another bite of my apple.

“About” Scarlet checked her pipbuck, “two hours and seventeen minutes ago.” She filled in for me. Then reached down to her plate and began to unwrap another cake.

“Just up that mountain near by, it was built there to protect Transylvanian ponies during the war.” I finished, as I swallowed my mouthful of bland apple.

Aurora blinked a few times, before reaching his head down and grabbing the bottle of whiskey by his teeth, taking another swig. Shaking his head, he now bore a more serious expression.

“Yer telling me, you two little ponies, so young yer still wet behind yer ears, just stumbled out of a stable, encountered a Roamer, ran all the way from the base of Smoked Out mountain and into Renaissance not but two hours ago?” He asked in clarification.

“Yup” I replied.

*mmph humph* Scarlet hummed around her cake in concurment.

Aurora slowly began to smile, and then erupted in deep hearty laughter once again. Ponies around us pausing their festivities to glance at the source of such thunderous booming.

“In all me years! I never thought I’d hear a tale as tall as the one happening before me eyes, but I believe ya two lovers, and I don’t know if I should feel sorry for you poor saps, or celebrate your survival out in the Death Tail wood!”

Oh so that’s what the forest was called, huh seems appropriate. Hey! Wait Scarlet and I aren’t lovers!.... For now at least… I hope.

“Scar and I aren’t lovers, why does everypony think that?!” I echoed my thoughts, leaving out the last bit.

*hmmphs* “Merdy ern er erent lervers!” Scarlet confirmed, choking slightly on her cake trying to help clarify our standing.

Aurora calmed down, resorting to small waves of chuckles as held up both hooves, “Okay, okay I believe you, I’ll just let nature take her course.” he defended with a grin.

What the buck was that supposed to mean?

“Anywho, I guess I need to explain a lot of shite to you two huh? Not every day a pair of Stable ponies just waltz into our little establishment. Get comfortable lassie and ladd, this might take a spell.”

I sat back, shifting most of my weight on my hind legs, having finished my apples and pear, I was ready to try and learn as much as I could to figure out what this world was. Scarlet scooted closer to me and leaned against my side, I guess that was her form of getting comfortable. She finished seven of the eight cakes, and I’m pretty sure she felt kind of ill from so much of them. I gladly accepted her lean and pushed back against her warm fur as well.

Aurora cleared his throat and began with explaining why the hay ponies liked bottle caps so much.

<><><>

I felt my eyes begin to droop midway through Aurora’s explanation of the difference between Slavers and “Raiders” as they’re called. I leaned my head against Midnight’s right shoulder as I tried to process all of what Aurora said, and tried to ignore my stomach ache at the same time.

Bloody snack cakes. Why do you have to taste so good, and make me feel so bad? I frowned as I asked myself.

Having listened to what the enclave was, and what ghouls were, and the threat of radiation, and what medical supplies to look for, and why everypony carried guns, and what kind of mutated shit was out there, and why the Steel Rangers were mostly bad, and what the Steel Rangers actually were, though he didn’t really know much himself, the list was almost endless.

This “wasteland” as Aurora called it, sounds like a pretty awful place to be. But it’s what we have to deal with I guess. I mentally sighed as I closed my eyes.

I continued to listen to Aurora’s deep voice as he explained why Transylvania was still relatively forested, and why the rest of Equestria was a barren hellhole. Apparently the ring of mountains surrounding Death Tail forest, formerly called White Tail forest, preserved it just enough from the radiation that bathed Equestria to not outright kill it, but mutate everything inside. Similar to the ghoulification of a pony. There were little to no clouds above the lands due to the ring of rocky spires also blocking those out as well.

I quickly got distracted, feeling the warmth come off of Midnight against my side and under my head. It was intoxicatingly comfortable, as I felt my head rise and fall from Midnight’s steady breaths as he listened intently to all of what Aurora had to offer, his brain could totally act as a sponge when he put enough effort to care about something.

Middy never really gives himself enough credit for how smart he actually is. I thought as I smiled to myself thinking about all the times he pretended he didn’t care about school back at the Stable, but I knew he really did study, and really enjoyed a lot of the subjects.

Right when I felt myself enter the limbo between trying to stay awake and listen, yet still not conscious enough to pay attention, I felt Midnight stir beneath me as he gently lifted me and draped me across his back.

“Whaa?” I mumbled as I cracked my eyes open barely enough to see Aurora and Midnight share a hoofshake.

“I can cover the tab for the meals and one night stay here at the pub. But for anything else, yer going to have to try and gather some caps on your own tyme, or pull some strings by doing favors fer ponies. If yer looking for work, ye can always come visit me at the Renaissance Rose headquarters, it’s to the north side of the town, ye can’t miss it.” Aurora offered.

“Thanks Aurora your advice and explanations were more valuable than anything I could have asked for, I’ll gladly help you out any time you need.” Midnight thanked as I felt us start to walk towards to bar.

I peeked my eyes open a little and saw the pub was mostly empty now, with the faintest light purple beginning to appear through the windows, as the sun began to rise.

Blimey we must have been talking for hours on end I thought, as I closed my eyes again relishing in the free ride on a heated vehicle.

“Any time Midnight Wind, now take that sleeping marefriend of yers to a proper bed, I doubt yer back is an adequate place to fall asleep on.” Aurora chuckled as he exited the pub, knowing he probably flustered Midnight yet again tonight.

I beg to differ! Middy’s back is perfectly comfortable. I snuggled in deeper as I shifted to rest my forehooves underneath my head.

“I only wish that were true Aurora.” I think heard, and felt Midnight whisper to himself as he turned to the bartender. My daze too thick to tell the difference between my dream world and reality to try and discern if he actually said that.

“Excuse me, Aurora Borealis said he rented out a room for me and my friend, could you point it out for me please?” I head Midnight ask, oh he’s so polite.

“Sure! Right up the stairs and the second door on the right mate, here’s the key, you can leave whenever you want as long as it’s before daybreak next morning.” I heard the voice of a young mare say, as the clinking of a key on a keychain was exchanged between the two.

Being bat-ponies, it was actually technically natural for us to be awake during the night hours, and asleep during the daylight hours. But since we came from a stable, there wasn’t exactly night and day. So we just followed the equestrian standard time. But out here, in the real world, I definitely felt the influence from the sun and the moon. When the night started transitioning to day I grew more and more exhausted as my body naturally wanted to fall asleep. It’s gonna be hard trying to adjust to the backwards time scale, but at least our bodies knew what to do.

I felt myself change level as Midnight started to tiredly ascend the stairs. I flinched and held on a little bit ghter as I felt myself begin to slip a few inches. The constant jingling of the keychain in Midnight’s mouth indicating which way was the way we were headed. The sounds shifted as I could only assume we entered a hallway, and I heard and felt Midnight begin to recite to himself what the bartender said.

“Second door on the left eh? Ah there it is.” I felt his deeper voice reverberate through his back.

More jingling and then the sound of a lock being opened filled the hallway, I felt a temperature change and once again the sounds changed their acoustics. We were now probably in the room I figured, as I heard the creak of the door close behind us.

“Aw shit one bed. And that couch over there doesn’t look too comfortable.” Midnight whispered to himself. I soon felt the muscles near his neck flex as he probably looked back at me.

“Well Scar you’re lucky it’s so hard to not give you the better option.” He continued as I felt him move slightly, then I slowly began to slide off his back and made contact with a soft, albeit musty smelling, bed.

I kinda missed his warmth and the feeling of the muscles on his back move with lithe precision as he trotted, but my fatigue soon took over and I quickly began to fall asleep again. The last sound being that of Midnight plopping down on a squeaky couch on the right side of the room, in front of me. As I drifted into a strained and painful dream.

OOOoooOOOoooOOO

I was back at the Stable 17 main door control room. Except this time instead of Super Nova being the one behind the gun, it was myself. I saw as all the ponies who were killed that day were lined up before me. Still alive and breathing, their faces contorted up in fear as I held the 10mm pistol in my mouth. My scarlet bangs partially obscuring my vision.

I involuntarily moved down the line, looking at each of my friends and family. Where Midnight’s parents once sat, my mother instead was situated. I stopped before my mother, her eyes smiling up at me as I placed the gun to her forehead. The security ponies all faded away, and the lighting in the room darkened. A spot light appeared on Muffin to my right as he suddenly crumpled to the ground exactly the same as he did when Nova shot him, then the spotlight appeared on Evergreen as he twitched, hit by invisible bullets a moment after. All of this happening while I sat in front of my mum with the cold barrel shoved against her skull.

The events continued to play out in silence, one at a time as the rest of the room froze and waited for the scenes to continue. In defiance to what was going on before me, I screamed out in rage and shook as I fought my grip, trying to move the barrel of the gun to Super Nova, who now sat in the place I had previously in the real world. I finally managed to snap the barrel against her head, as the sound of shattering glass resonated around me. The world faded to white as Super Nova and I sat there together, in the infinite space of white as the gun in my mouth pointed right between her bloody mad eyes.

I pulled the trigger, the hammer slamming down as the gun began to fire, I watched as the slide came back, the shell ejected and spun to my right seemingly stopping as the world slowed to a crawl. The bullet ejected from the barrel, twisting in the air as small pieces of lead shrapnel flew out behind the bullet, caused from the friction of it sliding out of the 10.01mm barrel.

My eyes widened in horror as Super Nova’s grin widened and she released a wild cackle, standing up in perfectly normal time, as the bullet inched out of my pistol. Super Nova nonchalantly trotted away, disappearing into white fog against the white background. I snapped my head back to my mother, who now sat before once again where Nova had previously. Time resumed and the bullet penetrated her skull, mum slumping to the ground still smiling from seeing me one last time before her death.

I killed my mum.

The world faded to black as my overwhelming thoughts invaded my mind.

I should have told somepony about all Super Nova’s plans. Why the fuck did I let that wraith continue on with her crazy rise to power? So what if nopony listened to me? Since I never tried to inform anypony, I’ll never know if I could have prevented all of this… Midnight’s friends and family would still be alive… Mum would still be alive…

OOOoooOOOoooOOO

I slowly fluttered my eyes open, feeling tears pool around the corners of my eyes and let out a hiccup as I felt my emotions begin to flood in. I was laying on the bed Midnight deposited me on last night, a one pony sized bed, with a light fleece blanket as the covers. The blanket was currently bunched up by my rear hooves as I lay on my stomach, with all of my legs beneath me.

Looking around in my tired daze, the room was dimly illuminated in a purple hue by the bright high noon sun, lightly penetrating the black curtains over the window on the right side of the room, in front of me. I was probably only asleep for a few hours and woke up in the middle of my dream. The room itself was a relatively small rectangle, with the longest walls being the one my back was currently up against, and the one across from me were the couch was currently located beneath the window. The door was to my flank on the back, shorter side of the room

Sitting up, I looked to Midnight, who was passed out on the worn grey love seat before me. His left most foreleg and hind leg drooping over the side nearly touching the floor. His light snores muffled by the arm of the chair, where he gracelessly had his face mashed into. The couch was way too small for the length of his body.

Midnight’s eyes cracked open an inch, my hiccup probably having awoken him from his light and uncomfortable sleep. I saw as he shifted his gaze to me and opened his eyes further, probably noticing the tears in my eyes.

“Scar, are you alright?” he asked tiredly as he began to push himself up and sit on his flanks, swaying about a little.

I began to feel more tears well up in my eyes, soon dripping off my muzzle and onto the sheets below as I recalled my dreams, the thoughts of us being thrown out into this world bringing depression onto my shoulders.

“Oh, scar…” Midnight cooed and he slowly got up and trotted over to me. Sitting down before me and resting a hoof on my shoulder.

“Bad dream huh?” he asked, gently stroking my back as I sniffled and nodded, not wanting to explain what happened in it.

Midnight sighed “Yeah me too, I kept recalling the events of the stable…” he drifted off as he furrowed his brow.

“Middy, can… can you sleep with me? I can’t fall back asleep. I feel so alone… Everything I knew is gone, and you- you’re all I have left…” I sniffled and asked nervously, looking up to his handsome golden eyes, which knowingly reflected my own feelings of sorrow.

“Of course Scar, I’d love to. Hay, I doubt I could have fallen back asleep by myself after my own dream.” he smiled down at me reassuringly, one I couldn’t help but return for a few seconds as I scooted over, further pressing up against the wall to my back. Midnight wordlessly climbed into the bed next to me, grabbing the fleece blanket near the base with his teeth, and brought it up to our shoulders. I just noticed how cold the room was now that the warmth of his body heat under the blanket contrasted to the air. I let out a small shiver as I breathed in the frigid air, closing my eyes.

I felt a leg wrap around my shoulders, which I gratefully accepted. I scooted forward closer to Midnight and let my muzzle rest against his chest under his chin, breathing in his warm and oddly enough, cinnamon-y scent. The couch he previously laid on must have permanently trapped the scents of this building, dating back to when it was used in the Renaissance fair during Hearths Warming Eve.

I softly sighed as Midnight lowered his chin on my head, feeling him gentling humming, his vocal chords’ vibrations reverberating back into me, as he brought me in closer into a warm embrace. I enjoyed that gesture more than anything else I had ever done with him before. I snuggled up to him, laying one of my rear legs over his in a, not gonna lie, pretty intimate full-body hug, as I began to try and drift back to sleep.

The wetness on my face seeped into Midnight’s fur, as I silently mourned for the world that we currently lived in. Nothing else could describe the mixture of death, rape, and thievery that made up this land other than: Darkness. It was utterly depressing. This dark, messed up world; I felt the only thing keeping me from simply ending my own life, was the fact I had Midnight with me. He probably felt even worse than I did, losing both his parents and his close friends that night. But I knew with him by my side, nothing in this wasteland could threaten to harm us. He may think otherwise, but I would do anything in my power to protect him, just as much as I would bet a million caps he swore to himself he would protect me.

I felt a small smile creep onto my muzzle as I thought about our mutual devotion, for the first time since our departure of Stable 17, I felt my heart settle at ease with our situation, now quickly leaving room for something else to fulfil its open spot. I knew what that something, or in this case somepony was, as I absently made up my mind about my emotions and snuggled closer to Midnight.

I loved my best friend, yeah. But I knew he loved me too. My previous unease about our relationship was now totally melted away, and a new spark of excitement replaced it. I guessed it was time I tried to repair what I may have damaged back in the Stable orchard, and explore the new feelings I had for Midnight, now fully willing to allow our relationship grow indefinitely with each other. With my mind, heart and soul put at ease, I finally felt myself drift into a peaceful sleep, filled to the brim with thoughts and feelings of newfound love.

xxx

Level up!
New perks awarded!
Midnight wind:
"The Stars of My Past": With the mountains around Transylvania blocking out the clouds, you gain a good view of the stars above. The thoughts of your mother are what drive you to victory! Whenever you're under a starry sky, you gain +20 points to HP.

Scarlet Rose:
"Who needs to run when you got wings?": Not really having the best running stamina doesn't mean you're not quick! You gain +5% movement speed when using your wings out in the open air.

Author's Note:

Thanks to Kkat for creating this awesome sandbox for us fillies and colts to play in!

And thanks to all you stallions and mares for giving my first story a chance!

No I didn’t forget about Midnight’s wing, he simply didn’t have it crushed up against anything for the entirety of his stay at the pub.

-Thanks! -Meetsouder

PS, for those who it concerns the * symbol will represent the perspective of Midnight and the <> symbol will represent Scarlet.