• Published 29th Jun 2012
  • 3,153 Views, 375 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - Wasteland Bouquet - Cascadejackal

There's a lot of stories in the Equestrian Wasteland, and they all need to be told.

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Chapter 21: The Way We Are

---CHAPTER 21: The Way We Are---

"I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to! It was a total accident!"

Ibis Greywing

Lily was an idiot. Just a couple of days ago she'd been cornered by some colt, and if it hadn't been for Rose she would probably have been killed. What does Lily do? She acts like Rose did something wrong by saving her life.

And now Rose was curled up on the dirty mattress beside me, staring at the half-empty bottle of whiskey in her hooves. She hadn't said much of anything lately, just that Lily was angry at her. I ran my beak through her mane, getting an ear twitch for my efforts, and sat back with a small sigh, looking at the forlorn mare.

She was starting to show signs of wear. One hind leg was bandaged from hoof to hock, torn up badly enough underneath to justify using magical bandages instead of normal ones. I knew that if I ran my claws across her flanks or front legs, I'd feel the lines of stitches under her coat, where the body armor that lay piled with our gear hadn't covered. Her hooves were chipped from the constant running and fighting, and one ear had a notch taken out of it near the base, courtesy of a stray bullet.

We'd all been having a hard time of it, but at least Lily and I could use healing potions. Potions didn't help with the exhaustion or stress that came with being hunted constantly, but it was one less thing to worry about.

Rose paused mid-swig, one ear twitching in the direction of the door, then slumped. "Lily is going out," she mumbled absently before taking another mouthful of whiskey. "She isn't happy."

I rested my head on her withers, letting her know I was there. "She doesn't hate you, you know." Rose didn't answer, just stared morosely at the bottle in her hooves. "She's just..." I trailed off, not knowing what to say.

Looking glum, Rose took another sip, but didn't respond. I moved so my chest was resting on her back and started preening her mane again in an effort to comfort her.

I really hoped Lily would get her head straight soon.

The day was getting on when Rose suddenly stiffened beneath me, waking me from my light doze.

"Lily's in trouble."

"Wha-?" Before I could wake up properly she'd stood up, knocking me aside as she limped to the door, not even bothering to grab her duster or gun.

"We have to help her." She shoved the door open and moved into the hall. As quick as I could I slung Garden on my back and followed, catching up to her outside, her three-legged gait deceptively fast.

"What's wrong?" I asked, keeping pace with my mare as we moved through the empty town, light fading as twilight came.

Rose stared straight ahead, barely acknowledging me. "Somepony wants to do things to her."

"Things?" Worry began to creep up on me.

"Things," Rose insisted, picking up the pace as best she could. I had a good idea of what things Rose was talking about, and even Lily didn't deserve that.

Suddenly, shots rang out and Rose seemed to forget her wounded leg, running flat out with her ears flat against her skull and her eyes wide. I took to the air, flying just above head level to keep up with her. I hated to admit it, but I was worried about Lily as well.

Please be okay, you idiot.

Caught up in the rush, I almost overshot when Rose slid to a stop at the entrance to a dark alley between buildings, quickly flaring my wings to land beside her. I almost asking if Lily was in there, but Rose's wide, staring eyes, filled with worry, answered the question before I could ask it.

Drawing Garden, I stepped forwards and into the alleyway, the scent of blood putting me on edge. The first thing I saw was the revolver pointed towards me and held in a light green aura. I almost fired but noticed, just in time, that there was a matching glow coming from the horn of a familiar unicorn. I let out a sigh of relief, but didn't approach. It was Lily. Nopony else would be shaking that much, or be aiming her gun with her eyes closed.

On the ground, right in front of her revolver, a stallion was sprawled out. The ground around him was dark and wet, and he wasn't moving. I didn't have to guess what had happened, not when Rose had said Lily was in danger, or since Lily looked like she was in the middle of a panic attack.

I took a hesitant step forward and called out softly. "Lily?"

"St-stay back!" Her head snapped up in alarm, her eyes wide and wild. "I-I'll shoot! J-just stay b-back!" Even though the gun was shaking in her aura, it was pointed at me now, and I froze, not daring to take another step.

"It's me, Lily," I said softly, trying to calm her down, "it's Ibis. Rose is here, and- Rose! Stop!" I hissed when Rose shoved past me, limping towards her sister as though there wasn't a gun being aim at us.

Rose ignored me, her ears low as she approached. Lily panicked even more, staring at Rose but not really seeing her. "Stay back! J-just, please! D-don't... I..." Shaking like a leaf, Lily shut her eyes and the glow around gun intensified.

Like slow motion, I saw the hammer cock back, the barrel aimed at Rose, who was only a foot away and utterly focused on Lily. I lunged forward to grab my mare, the hammer returning with glacial speed. I hit the ground, my outstretched claw missing Rose's hind leg as she suddenly took a limping step. I felt sick, unable to do anything but watch as the hammer struck home.


By some miracle, the gun didn't go off as Rose stepped up to it, then past it, a low click the only sound it made. I couldn't move, in shock by how close we'd come to something really bad happened. Either a misfire or she'd fired all her shots, or maybe the Goddesses were just looking out for us.

Completely unfazed, Rose pressed up against the shaking Lily and pulled her close. Rose's horn lit up, and Lily went limp in her hooves, my mare nuzzling her sister and making soft, soothing noises.

We'd taken Lily back to our room, her gear and gun set safely out of the way with ours. She was sandwiched between me and Rose, her whole body convulsing as she shuddered and sobbed.

"He... he was going to..." Lily choked out, her face buried against Rose's neck. "He kept coming and... and I... he... he wouldn't stop... I warned him... I-I didn't want to, but... but..."

"It's okay, Lily," Rose said softly, nuzzling her sister.

"N-no... no it's not, Rose... I... I killed him!" Her whole body shook and she pressed tighter against Rose. "I-I'm not like you, Rose! I-I'm not a... I... I'm not... I'm not... I... I didn't want to..."

"Not what?" I asked when her words turned into incoherent sobs, as gently as I could. "Not a killer?" I felt her shudder at that and draped my wing over both mares. "You didn't have a choice," I said softly. "Think of what he would've done to you." A loud sob escaped her, muffled by Rose's mane. "You did what you had to do, that's all. You're still here, still alive, still with us. That's what matters."

"He was a bad pony, Lily," Rose said quietly, nuzzling Lily. "Not you. You're a good pony."

Lily sobbed again and threw her hooves around Rose. "I-I'm so sorry, Rose! Y-you're the good pony, not me! I-I yelled at you, but you just... you were just protecting me, and..." She buried her face in Rose's mane again, sobbing too much to speak.

Hesitantly, I put a claw around Lily, relaxing a bit when Rose blinked at me. "You're an idiot sometimes, Lily." I smiled as I spoke; even though Lily couldn't see it, I hoped she'd hear it in my voice.

"J-jerk," came the muffled reply. In response, I tightened my grip around the mares and started rubbing Lily's withers, getting her to relax against us ever so slightly.

It took a while, but Lily's sobbing slowed and she drifted into a restless sleep, whimpering and twitching every so often. I was drained, exhausted, and when I met Rose's eyes I could tell she was, too. "You think she'll be okay?"

Rose stared at me for a second, then blinked. "Lily is very upset."

I shook my head, barely managing a tired chuckle. "First time's the hardest... still, I don't think she's meant for it. We should keep the idiot safe from now on, don't you think?" Another blink, and she yawned.

"I'm sleepy."

"Get some rest." I smiled. "You need it."

"Okay." With a final blink, Rose stretched out, resting her head on Lily as her eyes drooped. Noticing something, I sighed.

"Hold on a second. I need to check your leg." I pointed at her bandaged leg, now stained red. I guessed she'd torn the stitches running. She turned to look at it, then yawned again.

"But I'm tired."

I shook my head in dismay. "I'll be quick." With that, I slipped from the bed and retrieved my medical kit, clambering back up beside the pair with a sigh. Rose had joined Lily in Luna's realm in the seconds I'd looked away. I flipped the case open and set to work on Rose's wounded leg.

Rose slept through the entire thing, and when I was done, I lay beside Lily, my wing stretched over both mares to keep them comfortable as they slept.

At least they'd made up.

Late morning found us rested and outside of the town, ready for the final leg of our journey. Lily looked a lot better, even if she started shaking every now and then. Never crying, just trembling.

"We all set?" I asked, giving Lily a gentle nudge.

"Y-yeah..." She shivered and looked at her Pipbuck, checking the map. "Just... just a couple of days..." She looked to Rose, getting a reassuring smile in return. "Let's just go get our wagon and go home, okay?"

Rose and I nodded. Lily took a deep breath, held it for a second, then let it out. "Right... let's go, then." Her first step was shaky, but the next one was steadier, and she seemed to perk up the further we got from the town. On one side of her, I kept pace, letting her know I was there. On the other, Rose limped along, her occasional nuzzles keeping Lily's shaking from getting too bad.

"Almost there," came Lily's whisper, so low I barely heard it. "Just a little longer... and then we're going home."

Author's Note:

We're approaching the end of the arc!:pinkiehappy:
Tried some different formatting this chapter. Looks neater, but I dunno if I like it as much.:applejackunsure:

Usual rounds of thanks. KKat, for letting us play in her sandbox. Winter Storm, for making me the author I am today. Midnight Stalker, for being my ever-faithful prereader. And most important, all you guys, for sticking with it.:twilightsmile: