• Published 16th Jan 2015
  • 504 Views, 14 Comments

Fallout Equestria: Action Hero - Popcorn Chicken


The world of cinema may be long dead, but one young griffon strives to build a life taking clichés as gospel.

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Chapter 1: Set the Scene

Chapter 1: Set the Scene

Atop a cliff, above the tree line of a snowy mountain range trundled a column equine soldiers. Their faces and coats masked by thick, white and grey alpine gear but their armaments spoke volumes about their intentions.

Heading the column was a towering zebra bearing a heavy, flowing red and grey coat topped with ostentatious gold and crimson spiked pauldrons. He surveyed the frozen land before him with dark snakelike pupils, searching for anything that dared to oppose his imperialistic march. Small wildlife fled, scurrying away as if they sensed evil. Downwind in a clearing, protected and obscured only by a thin layer of mist did stand something and it refused to budge. The zebra commander halted. His troops staggered to a pause. Slowly, he lifted his hoof into the air and brought it to bear on fog-wrapped figure and barked an order in a harsh, alien tongue. “OPEN FIRE!

Bumbling in the thick snow, his identical soldier drones floundered into formation and poured an unrelenting torrent of hot lead onto the target. In a matter of seconds, the combined arms fire and explosive shrapnel reduced the crisp alpine flora to steaming mounds of mulch and litter. Only when the snow glittered with spent brass did the Commander slash his hoof through the air, ordering them to cease fire. A lowly subordinate rushed to his side and held a pair of ornate binoculars over his eyes.

The shape of the figure wavered within the smoke and mist, but it stood proud and arrogant. Held aloft at its side were a set of massive wings but the head clearly was not long and equine.

The Commander glared, thick veins throbbing on his temple as his frustrations doubled. The creature defiantly continued to oppose the zebras, taunting them with a cocky tilt of the head even as one of its wing fell from its side with a slow wooden creak.

While he occupied himself with the distraction, the real threat started making her move. Silently she slipped in, using a thick fog to encircle the unsuspecting zebras. Stealthily she struck at them, yanking some in under the mist while others vanished in feathery blurs swooping in and out of the trees.

Eventually one paranoid soldier caught on. Upon witnessing a dark shadow looming in the mist he unleashed a panicked burst of automatic fire. What structure and discipline the troop had vanished as they frantically followed suit, unloading their weapons into the foreboding fog; tossing grenades, close-quarter weaponry and finally a white flag.

A mocking chuckle haunted the zebras. First from that overhanging ledge. Then from an adjacent tree. It was everywhere, surrounding them; impossible to pin down. Then it was upon them.

Like a strike of lightning, a glinting combat knife sliced through the mist and firmly planted itself in the back of a zebra’s neck. He fell to ground, limbs jerking as he flailed his hooves at the grooved handle, gurgling for help all the while. By the time his comrades realized what had happened, life had faded from his body in a few final spurts.

WHAT IS HAPPENING!?” roared the Commander as he rounded on the soldiers cluttered around the corpse.

A panicked zebra spun on the spot to answer but instead found himself staring down the metallic blur of a rapidly approaching tomahawk. Passing just over the Commander's right pauldron, the business end split both his helmet and his skull straight down the centre. Another tally was added to the growing body-count.

The corpse hit the snow. Terrified zebras broke formation and flitted to the edges, searching for safe passage through the killer mist. Sporadic Gunfire punctuating their panicked cries. Attempting to regain control of his troops, the Commander slammed his right forehoof on a large rock with a sharp crack. Those who stood to attention were barked orders at. “GET IN FORMATION AND FIND THEM!

In response, the looming mist swirled like a localized hurricane. The zebras caught in the centre clearing.

“‘Them’?” asked a feminine voice, followed by a scathing trill.

Fretting, the zebras huddled closer and closer together, begging for orders or some form or moral support. The Commander gave them none apart from a hardened glare.

“Try one.”

Abruptly the mist seized and dissipated. Striding casually up from the clearing was a snow feathered, brown furred griffon Commando. Clad only in a skimpy leather combat harness and seemingly unarmed, she paused twenty feet before the zebras and smirked. Her ruby red eyes panned from one side of the huddled zebras to the other, meeting each of their confused stares directly. Satisfied, her gaze finally settled the Commander.

We’ve got you now,” spoke the zebra Commander, a confident grin spreading across his lips as an underling held and ornate revolver up to him.

“Have you?” The Commando’s talons and claws dug into the snow as her wing unfurled at her sides revealing a stocky shotgun under her left wing. “I’ve had all of you from the start.”

She was on them before the Commander could even clench on the trigger. Her pristine white feathers matched the snow perfectly as she swept across it aiming first for the tomahawk'd zebra. Wrenching her weapon free from his skull and helmet, she swung it down hard on the nearest striped neck. His former comrades scrambled backwards, staring wide eyed and horrified as the headless body stumbled aimlessly, its body language begging for help. Torrents of crimson drenched their arctic gear; a colour alike the Commando’s vibrant feathered crest and the highlights around her eyes.

Finally given a target, a gamier zebra jostled his comrades aside and charged at her, wielding an empty assault rifle like a club. His momentum met a sharp end as the Commando slammed the tomahawk upwards into his chest. She pirouetted around and sent him flying off the cliff edge with a scream that would embarrass Whinnyhelm.

There was a thunderous roar as another zebra was blown off his hooves and slammed into a tree by the full force of point-blank buckshot. The Commando pumped the talon-grip of her shotgun with a meaty mechanical motion and blasted another in the side, treating the onlookers to a gory crash-course in shotgun surgery. The remaining zebras regrouped and risked what little ammunition they had on the unlikely chance of striking the Commando, putting an end to the slaughter. They had a better chance laying down their arms and begging for a swift, painless death.

Eventually the slaughter wound down, leaving one last zebra cowering behind a pile of corpses. With his eyes wide shut and nerves shot, he could only listen to the Commando’s talons and claws crunching the snow. Each time it grew louder and closer. She was almost upon him. He had to act. It was now or never!

“Hey, Stri-”

I SURRENDER!

With his forehooves thrown into the air, he waited for either swift death or generous pity. Instead the Commando tossed her shotgun in the snow right before him, loaded with a single shell. The zebra soldier didn’t think twice. He snatched it up with his hooves and brought its sights to bear on the Commando. Her reply was an undaunted wink. There was just one problem; this was a griffon shotgun. Laughter now echoed through the mountainous valleys as the Commando fell backwards, clutching her sides while hollering at the top of her lungs.

SHOOT HER!” bellowed the Commander.

“I’m trying!” he replied, with forehooves clamped around the shotgun while his thick equine tongue trying to work the tiny trigger.

Click!

A loud blast echoed through the mountains. The zebra soldier flicked his gaze upwards hoping to see a lifeless griffon sprawled across the bloody snow. She was very much alive, now rolling from side to side, breathless from laughter. The shot had gone just a tad to the right… and right through one of his Commander’s expensive pauldrons.

Return at once and slay the she-griffon! I demand it!” bellowed the Commander as his last soldier galloped down the path they had come. “You…

Moi?” replied the Commando coyly, having regained her composure.

You can’t stop us all! Mighty Caesar will crush the griffons and the very Fringes of the World will be his!” the zebra Commander screamed, spit flew from his mouth landing just inches before her polished talons.

“Is that so?” slowly she advanced, flicking a few crimson tipped feathers out of her eyes. “You have great taste my striped chum! It’s a great holiday retreat during the summer, but right now it’s...”

She dashed forward, shoving the Commander off the cliff edge. He screamed and cursed at her as he fell before slamming into the river bedrock below with an unceremonious thud.

The Commando peered over the edge, smirking triumphantly before adding the final touch. “… the Fall.”

A thick and heavy orchestral piece thundered over the Commando’s last line. Four words burned themselves into the projector screen stating the film’s title in a bold and bombastic font.

FIGHT FOR THE FRINGES

Just a few feet before the projector canvas sat a griffon nestling no older than five or six. His yellow beak, which had hung open since the Commando debuted on screen, sucked in a gutful of air. The little griffon puffed out his brown feathered, bronze speckled chest and prepared a declaration of the utmost truth.

“THIS IS THE BESTEST THING EVER!” he exclaimed leaping off the ground with his tan hindlegs as he punched the air with his golden forearms and clenched talons.

Explosive introductory credits rolled down the screen providing some downtime from the pulse-blasting prelude. The young griffon’s imagination went wild thrusting him into the same world he just witnessed; one of fantasy where every shot was a flesh wound and the magazines were bottomless.

P-tsh! Chick-CHICK! P-tsh! Chick-CHICK!” He jerked his talons back and forth with an unrealistic ounce of recoil. With each shot a shadowy figure of a pony baddie was blown clean off his hooves. “You’re all beat! Hahaha!” the little griffon laughed triumphantly as he stared the last shadow down. “I heard ponies were on the…” and pause for delivery “… de-quine!

The shadowy figure surrendered, dropping his weapons to the ground and holding a hoof to his face. Perhaps accepting that there was no point in living past that radical one-liner.

Chick-CHICK! P-tsh!

New shadows replaced the vanquished baddies. Again the young griffon was surrounded but this time by a ring of shadowy griffon commandoes all whooping and cheering. One in particular caught his eye. Slowly it strutted forward from the circle and stood proud and tall before him. The silhouette took on details, proportions and finally a gender becoming the fearless Talon Commando he had idolized just moments ago. The young griffon stared up at her tentatively and she down at with the same proud smirk. In a swift motion that surprised even him – it was his own imagination after all – she leaned down, pecked him on the cheek before sweeping him high onto her shoulders and parading him about for another encore of applause.

While regaling in the fame and fantasy, the young griffon experienced a moment of clarity scholars and seers spent their lifetime striving to achieve. A gleam and a spark flittered across the dark dilated feline pupils, supportive orange islands and the sea of white. Almost immediately, dreams and aspirations were set in stone.

This little griffon knew what he wanted to be and he knew exactly how he was going to do it.

All of this was gathered from ten minutes of ancient cinematography. What could hundreds or possibly thousands of hours spent viewing and reviewing lead to? The little griffon bid farewell to his imagination and returned to reality, anticipating more action and more inspiration. But the projector canvas was despairingly blank, and someone had turned the lights on.

“Come on, Gillet. Time to go.”

Aside the projector stood another griffon. Gillet’s still wandering imagination visualised her as the Crimson Commando from the film. Quickly, he realized this wasn’t the case. As his eyes adjusted, her white feathers turned beige and the brown fur lightened to a warm tan. Her slick crimson crest changed hue to gold and folded back over her head, now bearing a likeness to his own. The revealing combat harness spread over her chest and forearms becoming a bomber’s jacket and a pair of aviator goggles materialized on-top of her crest. This was Glinnis, Gillet’s mother. Upon recognizing her, Gillet was immediately washed over by a wave of indignation.

“But muuuuum!” he cried, smile flipping into a frown so fast it almost caused whiplash across his cheeks. “It was just getting started! Can’t we stay a little longer? Please!”

“Gilly, sweetie. You’ve had your fun exploring for today,” Glinnis countered, her tone dropping down to a soft nurturing whisper. Gillet pouted reflexively upon sensing no favourable compromise in her answer. “But we need to head back to Friendship City before dark or all the hungry pony ghouls come out, and we don’t want that do we?”

“Can’t we just stay here?” Gillet proposed innocuously. “I didn’t see any hungry pony ghouls.”

“Sweetie, these Stables aren’t safe.” Gillet’s pout returned. “Just look at this one: most hallways are caved in, almost all the doors are locked and there’s no power. The ponies who lived in here before abandoned it for exactly those reasons.”

From a clock on an adjacent wall chimed a sick, sad tune announcing the end of another hour. Glinnis checked it against her own wrist-watch confirming that it was indeed 3 o’clock.

“That works too,” Gillet added, pointing to the projector.

Glinnis inspected the pre-war entertainment appliance and found cables leading to a small generator in a utility room next door. “If the life-support failed, at least they could watch a movie? What were these ponies thinking?”

“And this door wasn’t locked… very hard.”

“That explains all the feathers jammed in the keyhole. Where did you learn that trick anyway?” Gillet simply looked to his mother, eventually she sighed. It was almost as if the abandoned Stable suddenly decided to side with Gillet just to spite her. “Well, I suppose we can stay the night.”

“YES!” Gillet exclaimed, again throwing his limbs into the air.

“Beats wasting caps on a room, I guess. What are we watching?”

Gillet scrambled across the room and grabbed a large circular film reel case. “It’s a dock-you… dock-you-mensh…

“A documentary?” Glinnis suggested. At least he was trying to sound it out. Gillet had a habit of spouting gibberish when he came to words he didn’t understand at a glance.

“Yeah! That!” Gillet’s restless tail curled around one of his legs tripping him. The reel case rolled across the floor Glinnis’ talons.
Front and centre was the griffon Commando she had just witnessed slaughtering zebras on the projector screen. Flanking her were other appropriately patriotic griffons, underneath were hordes of shadowy snake-eyed zebras, the backdrop was a giant explosion behind a mountain and towards the edge was a faded diamond sticker reading ‘Approved and Funded by the Ministry of Image.

Furthermore; the walls were lined with racks holding hundreds of similar reel cases. “Great Egg…” Glinnis mumbled as she marvelled at the collection, untouched by time and looters. Either the Stable’s entertainment section or the prized anthology a pre-war pony who had paid a fortune to protect. From just a cursory glance around the room Glinnis saw sections bearing labels like ACTION, ACTION THRILLER, EXTREME ACTION, ACTION COMEDY, ACTION SUSPENSE, and Romance but nothing that struck her as remotely educational. “Documentaries? Sweetie, these are movies. I don’t think they’re fact…” Gillet looked back up to her with an expression of pure, unadulterated innocence. “Uhhh… ‘Fight for the Fringes! Starring the famous Crimson Crested Talon Mercenary Indiana (as herself), comes a blazing epic about impossible odds and feather-raising fights!

War continues to spread across globe! The villainous zebra Caesar, unsatisfied with his war against Equestria, sets his sights on the Griffon homeland; the Fringes of the World! As the Griffon King attempts to rally his citizens in defence of this Great Nation, the responsibility of slowing the zebra advance through the alpine mountains falls to Indiana and the legendary Talon Commandoes!

Can they hold back the striped tide? Can they safeguard an entire nation from the striped menace? Why are you still reading this? Watch it right now!’”

“Do what it says! Do what it says! Do what it says!” Gillet repeated with overflowing enthusiasm, the century old marketing clearly having its full intended effect on him.

“Sweetie, what did I teach you about patience?” Gillet grabbed the arm of her bomber’s jacket and attempted to drag Glinnis to the projector. When she was finally there, he started running circles around it, fluttering his immature wings while insisting that she hurry up.
Eventually the lights dimmed and Fight for the Fringes flickered back to life. Glinnis settled herself down beside her bouncing son and draped a wing over his body, calming him a little.

Even she had to admit it was quite a catching film. They had definitely stumbled upon something worthwhile here; though the rest of stable had caved in lifetimes ago, the atrium and adjoined rooms appeared fine. The location was reclusive from the dangers of Manehatten, hidden underneath a long dilapidated beach house far down the southern coast. Yet was still within convenient flying distance of Friendship City and Tenpony Tower. Gillet was right about staying tonight, but Glinnis challenged her instincts and now considered staying here for the foreseeable future. Perhaps it was time she settled down and looked to raising Gillet properly instead of on the fly between deliveries and jobs.

Glinnis studied her son; his wide eyes glued to the projector screen, drinking every little detail and action. Clearly whoever directed this film did it in a very different time, when certain racial views were common place in the public. For a moment Glinnis wondered if these anachronistic accusations might influence Gillet in the wrong ways.

“Did you see that mum? Indiana was all like whoosh! an’ then pewsh! pewsh! pewsh! an’ she shot all the bad guys an’ still saved the sky-wagon of orphans!” Straight past the propaganda and right to the action. Perhaps she shouldn’t need to be so concerned.

“I’m right here sweetie. I saw it too,” Glinnis said with a soft smile. “She’s quite dashing, isn’t she?”

“She’s the bestest Talon there is!” Gillet sighed dreamily as the camera gave Indiana a particularly glamorous, slow-motion close-up. Indiana looked directly at the camera and winked before blasting away at some more hapless zebras. “When I grow up, I’m gonna be a Talon just like her.”

“Oh really?” said Glinnis. “Any griffon can be a Talon… but if you want to be just like her, the very best, then you’ll need to train extra hard…”

“Every day!”

“… do all your homework…”

“No problem!”

“… and eat all of your greens.”

“Of… Of course I will!” Gillet leapt up and ran to the projector screen, rearing up on his hind legs and striking a heroic pose mimicking Indiana as she delivered a heartfelt and rousing speech about herself. “I’m gonna be the bestest one day! I’ll be so cool an’ so famous that they’ll make a dock-you… a dock-you-mint…

“Sound it out with me, sweetie. Dock-you-ment-ah-

“Movie! They’ll make a movie just about me!”

It was settled, Glinnis had found their new home. The abandoned stable offered more than shelter and a retreat, it also gave Gillet dreams and a future. At such a delicate and impressionable age, a hobby would serve him well. A point he could pin his beliefs alongside himself. Something he could call on for inspiration. A source of fuel for the journey’s ahead. Perhaps even the driving force behind them.

Most importantly of all; it gave him something every up and starting hero needed.

A virtue: Passion

Author's Note:

Hey reader, thanks for powering through chapter one, giving me the benefit of the doubt.

Cover by Floots. Thanks to all the denizens of Fort Muny for advice, help with pre-reading and editing. Thanks to KKat for creating the original and another for Mike for herding us about in the Muny Company campaign.