• Published 29th Jun 2012
  • 3,154 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.

  • ...

Chapter 27: Caravan's Three

---CHAPTER 27: Caravan's Three---

" I've heard rumors that the Castle of the Two Sisters is filled with the most gorgeous of ancient tapestries in all of pony history! It pains me to think of those magnificent creations rotting away in those old ruins, totally unappreciated."

Manehattan. Home of Tenpony Tower, Friendship City, and somewhere we seemed to end up more often than not. At least this time we were on our way back to our route, instead of going off on courier work like usual.

Things had quieted down since the last time we'd passed through. There were no bounty hunters chasing us, and a fellow caravaneer we'd spoken to said that a troublesome gang had been wiped out by a mysterious mare with a brahmin skull cutie mark and a red mane.

I'd snorted at that, but I was glad there wasn't any mention of us. We didn't need any more attention, and certainly not that kind.

I didn't know then, but the three of us would be getting a lot of attention soon. If I could go back and change things... I wouldn't change much. I don't think Ibis would, either, and I know Rose wouldn't.

When I got the bright idea that started everything, we were camped in an old apartment building some caravaneers had fortified into a rest stop, with burning barrels providing warmth and light and a couple of guards patrolling to keep their employers safe.

As far as rest stops went, it was kinda bare-bones. A single level building shaped like a horseshoe, with the open end fenced off to help keep the place secure. All the rooms opened onto the centre lot, where the wagons were kept. There wasn't a bar or anything, but any place traders and caravaneers gather always has some trading going on. Food, booze and bullets were a given, but info about the various routes through the wastes was just as valuable.

I'd just finished swapping route info with a few other crews, my Pipbuck pinging some new locations and more than a few paper maps getting new notes and marks in return, before heading to the room we'd been given. Predictably, when I got there, Rose and Ibis were busy snogging on one of the beds. I just rolled my eyes, tried to ignore them and hopped onto my own worn-out mattress, set on relaxing with some music and snacks while checking out the new route markers I'd gotten.

That's no good... we're not going there again... that place isn't too far off our route... ooh, that's worth a look... I thought that place was abandoned? Munching a snack cake, I bobbed my head to DJ Pon3's late-night music broadcast as I scrolled through the map. Then I noticed a marker only a couple of hours away from the rest stop, right in scenic downtown Manehattan, one I didn't remember getting that day. I wracked my brain for a minute, trying to remember when I'd gotten that particular location marked before it hit me. Just as quickly, I had an idea. A brilliant idea.

Quickly swallowing my mouthfull of two-century old junk food, I sat up and turned down my music before pegging the empty snack cake box across the room at Rose and Ibis. "Hey! Perverts!" They broke apart, stopping their make-out session and panting heavily, a drop of blood trickling down the side of Rose's muzzle. Bleagh. Griffin kisses. Ignoring that, and how flushed they both were, I grinned and held up my Pipbuck. "Wanna rob a bank?"

The next day found us looking up at a large building, the remaining letters on the front still proudly declaring it to be a bank. It was a strict looking building, with grey-brown walls and large windows on the front, most of them broken and letting us see partway into the dark interior, and a short plaza between it and the road. It was the bank the lockbox had come from; I just hadn't noticed my Pipbuck pinging it when we made the delivery.

We'd parked the Serenity by the doors, out of the way, and I was freeing Rose from the traces when something occured to me. "You said there's nobody in there, right, Rose?" Rose nodded as she slipped out, stretching her hind leg until it made an unpleasant pop sound.

"It's empty, Lily."

"See, that's what I mean," I said, waving my hoof at the double-doors that led into the bank. "Banks are safe, right? So why's nobody camped out here?" Rose just blinked at me and stretched again. I sighed and turned to Ibis, who was checking Garden. "You get what I'm saying, right?"

"Huh?" Ibis looked up in surprise, slinging his shotgun as he did so. "Hmm..." He looked at the building, then frowned. "Rose, you're sure this place is empty?"

Rose nodded and blinked at us both. "I don't feel anypony in there." Suddenly, she got a wierd look and her ear twitched a couple of times as she looked around. Then, just as quickly, she was back to normal, blank expression and all.

Me and Ibis stared at her nervously. "Um, Rose, what was that about?" I asked, suddenly wary.

She just blinked again. "I thought I heard something, Lily. It's gone now."

"Right..." I just trailed off, not sure what to say to that. "So... we're going in, then... got everything you need?"

"I'm set," Ibis said, after adjusting Garden on his back and checking his sheathed knife. "Rose?"

Rose hopped up into the back of the wagon and started ferreting around in her pile of stuff, dragging a metal box out and flicking the lid open. She stuck her head in and when she came back up, blinking at us with her prize in her mouth, I facehoofed.

"Dammit, Rose. No grenades." I couldn't believe it. Rose had a belt full of grenades in her teeth. She gave me a pleading look over her mouthful of explosive apples. I just shook my head. "Ibis, you tell her."

"No grenades, Rose," the big griffin said with a sigh. "We're robbing the place, not occupying it. And no dynamite, either!" He quickly yelled the last part when Rose dropped her grenades back into the box and re-emerged with a red stick held firmly in her gob and a hopeful expression on her face.

I facehoofed while Rose, pouting, dropped the dynamite back into the box, making Ibis flinch. I shook my head and asked "Rose, why would you even think we'd need dynamite?"

Rose looked at me, looked down at her Box o' Boom, then blinked at me before saying "Because we might need to blow up the vault." Like it was obvious and I was the wierd one for not thinking of it.

Me and Ibis just stared at her for a few seconds. "Y'know, she does have a point," Ibis said with a shrug. "You want to rob the place, that's probably where the best stuff is."

I gave him a flat look. "Don't encourage her, Ibis."

He shrugged again. "Just saying."

I sighed and hung my head. "Fine. If we need to get into the vault, then Rose can play with all the explosives she wants. Let's just get inside already."

After Rose secured her crate of explosives, trying one final time to sneak a grenade into her pocket without me seeing (I made her put it back), we finally made it to the doors and, much to my surprise, they opened without a problem. Shrugging to my companions, I led the way in.

"Huh," I said as we stopped just inside the entrance, getting our first look inside of the bank, "well, someone's been here."

The lobby was a large, open room, with pillars spaced around the outside near the walls and teller's counters at the far end. A couple of overturned tables were off to one side. The giveaway that we weren't the first ones there, though, was the burn marks and slaggy grooves all around the entrance and on the tables, like a couple of unicorns had had a magic duel there.

"Looks like energy weapons," Ibis remarked, running his claw down the nearest of the melted furrows, immediately blowing my magic duel theory away.

I frowned at him. "You sure about that?"

"Pretty sure." He nodded and looked up, motioning with his head. I followed his eyes to see what he'd spotted. "Those are probably turrets." Set into the ceiling, there was a pair of large metal panels, both of them pitted and surrounded by the tell-tale pockmarks of bulletholes.

Suddenly nervous, I took a step backwards, towards the doors and potential safety. "You think they're still on?" I asked, eyeing the panels and getting ready to bolt if they opened.

Ibis shrugged. "They haven't shot at us yet." He raised his claw and pointed. "If Rose hasn't set them off yet, I don't think they're working."

"Rose!" I hissed, "Get back here!" Rose had wandered off, either not noticing or caring about the turrets (my caps were on her not caring), and was investigating the overturned tables. "Rose!"

She just ignored me and, apparently not finding anything by the tables, trotted over towards the teller's counters instead.

With a long-suffering sigh at my sister's antics and a shared look of resignation with Ibis, we crossed the apparently safe lobby. We got to where Rose was just as she'd plonked her butt down in a teller's spinning chair that had somehow survived the years intact, and was happily spinning around slowly.

"What do you think you're doing? You could have been shot!" I growled at her and thumped my hoof on the counter between us.

"But... Lily... it's... safe... remember?" Rose replied, the spinning of the chair only letting her get one word out at a time when she faced us.

Groaning, I reached out with my magic and grabbed the chair, bringing it to a sudden halt. Rose teetered for a split second before crashing to the floor, her eyes spinning wildly. Behind me, Ibis snickered. "Rose, you dummy," I said, bopping her on the head with my hoof to get her to focus on me, "Ibis says there's turrets."

"Oh," Rose blinked a few times, her eyes slowly focusing on me."Lily, why are there turrets? There's nopony here."

I just facehoofed. "Rose, you absolute flamin' dummy, the turrets are the reason there's nopony here."

She blinked at me again. "Oh."

"Oh? Really? Just, oh?" I facehoofed again. "What am I going to do with you? I really wonder about you sometimes, Rose-"

"Sh!" Ibis hissed, cutting me off and suddenly raising his head, looking around the lobby. "Do you hear that?"

"Hear what?" I asked, looking around myself. "Rose said the place is empty."

Ibis unslung his shotgun, sitting back so he could use both claws to handle it. "Just listen," he said again, frowning. "It sounds like... footsteps. Armored."

Confused and worried, hearing the heavy, clanking footsteps getting closer, I looked at Rose. "You're sure there's nobody here?" She nodded. "Then what-"

"There!" Ibis aimed Garden at one of the doors at the back of the room as it swung open, and out walked a large, clanking, grey pony, the size of a stallion.
The whole thing was covered in dinged metal plating, it didn't have a tail or mane, and instead of eyes it just had a single large, red visor across the front of its face. It paused when it entered the room and just stared at us.

"So..." I said slowly, glancing away from it for a second to see Rose, who was still laying on the floor and looking confused by the ponitron. "I guess you can't find robots with your thing, huh Rose?"

Rose looked up at me and blinked, confused. "Lily, why is the robot pony's eye glowing?"

"Huh?" I turned back to the ponitron just as it let out a garbled burst of static, its visor glowing bright red. "OH FUCK!" I dived back over the counter, the tip of my tail getting singed by the red beam that shot out of the thing's face, while Ibis leapt into the air and started firing. I didn't see what happened to Rose, and I didn't have time to look, because the second my hooves hit the ground I heard a whirring and clacking noise from up above.

"FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK-" I chanted, frantically darting around, trying to dodge the beams the turrets were shooting down at me and trying to find cover. "-FUCKFUCKFUCK-" Barely avoiding a beam that left me smelling burnt mane, I managed to get behind the overturned table... which quickly started to smoke under the barrage of lasers.

On the other side of the thankfully thick wood, I could hear Ibis firing, the roaring gunshots moving as, I was pretty sure, he flew around the lobby. From over where I'd left Rose, I heard the scratchy static and snap-hiss! of the ponitron shooting lasers of its own, and the sounds of something smashing into metal.

"Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck-" I covered my head with my hooves and cowered behind my cover... until it got quiet on the other side of the table. Slowly, hesitantly, I poked my head around the side to see if Ibis and Rose had finished dealing with the bank security... and came face to beak with Ibis. "AH! Surprised and not expecting him to be right there, I lashed out, punching him right in the face.

"Ow." Looking amused, Ibis rubbed his cheek where I'd hit him. "That almost hurt, Lily."

I huffed at him. "Fuck off. Did you get the robot?"

He shook his head and moved away, giving me room to come out from behind the table. "I think Rose did." He waved his claw, indicating the now smoking and destroyed turrets dangling from the ceiling. "Took care of those, though."

"Rose," I called out, eyeing the wrecked remains of the turrets warily, "You okay?" There was no answer. "Rose?" Sharing a wary look with Ibis, we approached the counter again and stuck our heads up over it. Immediately, we both let out sighs of relief. Rose was fine. Her tail was smouldering, but it didn't look like she was hurt.

The ponitron, on the other hoof... not so much. One metal leg was laying a good distance away, torn off at the shoulder, with sparks coming from the exposed wires. The rest of it was... mangled. And kinda flatter than it was before. Rose was sitting next to it with her front hooves raised over her head, staring so intently at it it was no wonder she hadn't noticed me calling her.

"Rose! Oi!" I called out as I clambered over the counter and approached her, Ibis right behind me. Our movement caught the ponitron's attention, the metal mess not quite dead yet, its cracked and shattered visor glowing suddenly as it let out a sparky, static-y crackle. The second it showed that sign of life, Rose pummeled its head with both front hooves until the light went out, then went back to glaring at it, hooves raised and ready again.

I looked over my shoulder at Ibis. He shrugged and, with a raised eyebrow, motioned for me to deal with Rose. I rolled my eyes at him and moved forwards. "So... Rose..." I hesitated as the robot sparked, earning itself another dent or six. "Is it dead yet?"

Rose didn't look at me, just frowned. "I don't like robots, Lily. They're evil and they don't stay dead." Her ears flattened as a short burst of static came from the tin pony, cutting off abruptly when Rose's punching turned into four-hooved stomping. There was a pitiful whine, one final gurgle of static, some sparks and the thing finally seemed to give up the ghost.

After waiting a few seconds to make sure it wasn't going to do anything else, Rose finally looked at me and blinked. "I think it's dead now, Lily." She paused and glanced down at the mechanical victim she was still standing on, then looked back up at me, her head cocked to the side. "Lily, is it dead or broken? Robots aren't alive, so I don't think they can die."

After considering the pile of mangled metal under her hooves, I just gave her a flat look. "Rose, does it really matter if it's dead or broken? You've smashed the thing." She just blinked at me, so I sighed and hung my head. "Fine. You broke it. Now can we loot the place already?"

We took our time searching the bank. The offices didn't have anything worth taking, but we did run into a couple more turrets in the halls. Ibis took care of those, using Garden to blow them apart before they could open up and singe our snouts.

I won't talk much about what we found in the employee lounge fridge. Seriously. Pudding shouldn't do that, two centuries old or not.

Eventually, we found our way into the more secure part of the bank. We would've had more trouble, but the security door was jammed open enough for Rose to wedge herself in and shove it all the way open, while Ibis dealt with the turret outside before it had a chance to turn on, firing Garden into it while the panel was still closed. The undersized cannon was great for putting big holes in things, unsurprisingly.

We ignored the security offices on both sides of the door, since a quick glance showed they'd already been searched by whoever'd made it that far before us, all the lockers and drawers open and empty

Instead, we headed down the hallway, around the corner and into the first room that looked promising.

"I guess this is where the lockbox came from," I muttered, looking around the long room, the walls covered in lockboxes and small hatches. A few of them were already broken open and emptied, or missing entirely in the case of most of the lockboxes. Beside me, Ibis huffed.

"Hope you don't want to search all of them," he said, craning his head to look at the ceiling-high walls of potential treasure. "We'll be here for days if you do."

I shrugged. "Nah. Just pick at random." Looking around again, I raised my hoof to point at some more heavy-duty looking boxes at the back of the room. "Like those ones."

It took us a couple minutes to get the first box out. I even had to send Rose back to the wagon to grab a crowbar! We managed, though.

Ibis started work on the next box, and I waved Rose over. She plonked her butt down next to me with a curious look on her face. "What is it, Lily?"

"It's a lockbox, dummy," I said before grinning. "And I'm gonna teach you how to make it an unlockbox. First, we need our tools." Lighting my horn, I pulled a screwdriver, pack of bobby pins and bit of wire out of my jacket pockets, showing them to an now interested Rose. "Now, you gotta be able to see what you're doing, so keep your mane out of your eyes. Like this, see?" I pulled a couple of pins out the packet and pinned both me and Rose's bangs out of the way, then smiled. "It also helps you look pretty. Next, you get your screwdriver and your wire, and you jam them into the lock, like this."

Under Rose's watchful gaze, I slipped the bent bit of wire into the lock, followed by the screwdriver. "Now, you just do like this... aaaand..." After a bit of wriggling, there was a click. "Done!" With a smug grin, I put my tools back in my pockets and tried to lift the lid. Tried being the important part here. A few more attempts left me scowling at the jammed box. Beside me, Rose blinked owlishly.

"Lily, I don't think it's open."

I glared harder at the stubborn box. "I know. Don't worry, I have another way of opening it." I slid the box to my side, so it was in front of my sister. "Rose? Smash."

A bit of violence later and I finally got to see what was in the box. I opened the lid slowly to tease Rose. She didn't show it, but I could tell she was just dying to know what was inside.

"You going to open that thing or not?" I jumped when Ibis came up behind me and spoke, sounding irritated.

I turned to glare at him. "Shouldn't you be getting us more boxes?"

He just tossed the crowbar at my hooves and shrugged. "They're in there too tight. Surprised we got this one." He reached out a claw and, ignoring my protests, flipped the lid all the way open. Then he just stood there, staring at the contents, before shrugging again. "I have no idea what that is."

"Ooh!" My eyes lit up and I pulled my prize free. "It's a grooming kit! A fancy one, too!" That's exactly what it was. A really nice, polished wooden box that, when it was opened revealed a treasure trove of pretty-ifying tools. "Full set of curry combs, hoof pick, hoof file, manebrush, tailbrush, horn files-"

"Horn files?" Ibis interrupted, looking at the kit curiously. "Why would you file your horn?"

I rolled my eyes and floated the files up for him to see. "Because a groomed horn is a healthy horn, of course! And it's attractive! " Seeing a perfect example, I grabbed Rose's head in my magic and tugged her over, tilting her noggin to show Ibis her horn. She just blinked up at me, not really bothered. "See, look at Rose's horn. She just rubs it on things, she doesn't ever file it or take proper care of it." I used one of the files to scrape at the base a bit, clearing away some of the dead horn. "Bleagh. Nasty." I angled my head so Ibis could see my horn, instead of my sister's.

"I actually take care of mine. See how much smoother it is?" Ignoring the bemused look on Ibis face, I brought Rose's horn next to mine for comparison. "Smooth horns are prettier and healthier. Makes the magic flow better. And then there's the grooves." I took up another, rounded, file and waved it around as I explained. "Deeper, tighter grooves-"

Ibis started snickering. I gave him a flat look. "What are you laughing at?"

"N-nothing," he got himself under control a bit and waved his claw at me, "go on, tell me about your grooves." He started snickering again and then I realised why he was laughing.

I rolled my eyes at him. "Oh, ha ha. Anyway, Rose's grooves-"

This time, Rose and Ibis stared snickering. I scowled at them. "Fine, spiral, then! Rose's spiral's not very deep. See how broad it is? Mine's a lot tighter-" Ibis started laughing harder "-and deeper, and... oh, fuck you guys." I packed up the kit and tucked it into my jacket before stomping away, headed out of the room and away from the guffawing goofballs. "Fucking perverts," I grumped.

"That's a big door," I muttered as we checked out the massive chunk of steel that looked like it belonged on a Stable. Behind me, Rose and Ibis sounded their agreement. They'd caught up with me once they'd stopped laughing, but I'd already reached the end of the hall and the intimidating door that was keeping us out of the vault.

It was big, solid, and securely shut. The only sign anyone had ever gotten that far was a shallow gouge in the metal and a large, burned-out drill with a broken bit the size of my horn.

"So..." I asked, looking between my two companions, "any ideas on how to open it?" Rose instantly got a hopeful, eager look in her eyes, and I sighed. "Fine. Blow it up, just don't take us with it."

A few minutes later, Rose had damn near emptied her explosives stash, using duct tape and wonder glue to put a ring of dynamite and grenades all around the outside of the door.

While she put the finishing touches on (more tape and a long fuse), me and Ibis made ourselves scarce, hiding out in the lockbox room for safety.

"What do you think's in there?" Ibis asked, ruffling his feathers and looking towards the door nervously.

I shrugged. "Gold? Jewels? Celestia's jewelry?" I grinned at the thought of the riches that might be waiting for us. "All I know is, it's gonna be worth the trouble."

"You know anyone who'd buy gold?" Ibis asked. "It's not really useful. Lot heavier than caps, too." I snorted at him.

"Of course I know someone!" At his expected look, I smirked, teasing him. "But that's for me to know, and you to find out."

He rolled his eyes at me. "Idiot." I huffed.

"Jerk. You'll see, we'll all be so rich we could buy Tenpony Tower for ourselves after this."

Just then, Rose's voice came floating down the hall. "Lily, I don't have any matches. Can I please use your lighter?"

"No way, Rose!" I called back. "You're not blowing up my lighter! Besides, you still haven't got it working yet!" I paused for a second. "You're a unicorn, use your damn horn!"

There was a brief pause, then "Okay."

I facehoofed. "Earth pony with a horn, I swear it." There was the faint sounds of magical sparking and I turned to Ibis. "You think we can find Rose a magic tutor or something when we're rich? I mean, half the time I think she forgets she's a-"

There was a massive boom, green flames went roaring past the door and a shower of plaster fell from the ceiling. Coughing and shaking my head to clear some of the dust off, I peered through the dust-and-smoke filled room at Ibis, who was looking stunned. "ARE YOU OKAY?!" I yelled out, trying to make myself heard over the ringing in my ears.

"WHAT?!" Ibis yelled back, "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"

"I SAID, ARE YOU OKAY?!" I staggered over to him, yelling in his face this time.

"YEAH! MY FUCKING EARS ARE RINGING, BUT I'M NOT HURT! IS ROSE IN ONE PIECE?!" He rubbed his earhole and shook his head.

"WHAT?!" I yelled back, the dust in the air making me cough.

"FUCK!" He screeched and grabbed hold of my jacket, staggering and dragging me towards the door.

"FUCK!" I realised what he'd said as we stumbled into the hall. "ROSE! YOU ALIVE?!" I couldn't hear anything over the ringing, and the far end, where the vault door was, was a smokey, dusty mess, impossible to see through. "ROSE?!"

"OVER THERE!" Ibis shoved me to get my attention, pointing to the other end of the hall, where something was laying against the wall and covered in small, flickering green flames. "I THINK THAT'S ROSE!"

Coughing, we moved down the hall, the dust settling around and on us until I was almost as pale as Rose. When we got there, Ibis beat his wings, clearing some of the dust so we could actually see.

"What the fuck?" I gasped, seeing what had happened, "How in the name of Celestia's Beard did that happen?!" Rose was literally stuck in the wall, the blast having sent her flying with enough force to embed her upper half in it so that her flank was left dangling in the air.

"And why is she on fire?!" Ibis reached out his claw to beat at the green flames that were sparking up on her duster. "OW! Fuck, hot!" He hissed and pulled back his burnt talons, sticking them in his beak before glancing at me. "Fucking... hey, Lily, use your magic and pull her out."

"Huh? Oh, right." Startled, and still in a bit of shock, I focused my magic, grabbing Rose's back legs and tugging as hard as I could.

"Green flames aren't natural. What did she use on that door?" Ibis muttered, pulling his burnt claw from his beak and examining it with a grimace.

"I think... she used... all of... her... grenades..." I grunted, straining to pull Rose free... before she popped free and, since I wasn't expecting the sudden lack of resistance, flew through the air and almost landed on us. We stared at her prone, unconcious form in surprise. "Um... I don't think it was the grenades that started the fire."

"No shit," Ibis deadpanned before gesturing at Rose's horn. "How do you shut that thing off?" It was sparking bright green, which wasn't that unusual. What was unusual was that every time it sparked, Rose caught on fire more! The small green flames covering her flared in time with the sparking.

"Hit it with something!" I suggested, backing up a bit as a particuarly large spark sent a wave of fire rolling from the tip of Rose's horn to the end of her tail. Ibis pulled out his knife and whacked the flat of it against Rose's horn.

This did two things. First, it stopped the sparking, the flames dying out. Second, it made Rose wake up... if you can call it that. She leapt to her hooves, her eyes wide, scared the piss out of me and sent Ibis flapping into the air and squawking in surprise, then she neighed and bolted... face first into the wall, slumping like a sack of snack cakes and leaving a dent where her head had hit.

I traded looks with the airborne Ibis before slowly approaching and poking Rose's side. "Um... you okay there, Rose?"

"Ebbeh." Face-down on the floor, her voice was muffled.

I looked at Ibis again and shrugged. "Nothing broken? Not bleeding? Little brain damage, maybe?"

"The flutterponies are talking to me, Lily."

Shrugging, I pulled Rose's flask from her pocket, lifted her head and stuck the booze in her mouth before turning back to Ibis. "Sounds like she's fine. Wanna loot the vault now?"

Ibis shook his head, looking put-out. "I can't believe this is my life. Could it get any wierder?"

I just shrugged for a third time, grabbed Rose in my magic, dumped her on Ibis' back and led the way down the corridor to where the dust was clearing from the vault door. Which wasn't there anymore. Instead, it was on the floor, Rose having blown through the hinges, the locks and the entire wall around it.

Bracing myself for the inevitable piles of money, gold, jewels and who-knows-what waiting for me, I ran at the still dust- obscured doorway and took a running leap into it. "MONEY PAR-OHFUCK!"

I scrabbled to a sudden stop, my momentum almost carrying me over the edge of a large hole that I was pretty sure shouldn't have been there. I teetered at the ragged edge of the pony-sized hole for a second, looking down into the black of the tunnel underneath, before something grabbed my tail and dragged me back to safety.

"Gonna be rich, huh?" Ibis mocked when he'd let go of my tail. On his back, Rose mumbled something about flutterponies again. We both ignored her. "Buy Tenpony?" He waved his claw at the inside of the vault around us and smirked at me. "Yeah, I can really see that happening."

Swallowing nervously, heart thumping from my near miss, I looked around... and screamed. "NNNOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

The place had been cleaned out. Lockers, money bags, lock boxes, even safes, all open and empty. There was nothing left.

I was pissed, stomping around the lobby and shooting glares at our tiny pile of loot. "I can't believe this!" Ibis ignored me, splitting the already pitiful amount of bits and gems into three even smaller piles. "We go through all this trouble, and the place had already been robbed?! How did they even beat us here?! Why didn't anypony know about this?!"

Ibis glanced up at me. "All the dust, looked like it happened years ago." He picked up the largest piece of loot, a ragged old briefcase we'd found in an otherwise empty safe. "What about this? It's locked, but it's kinda light."

Fuming, I stomped over to the overturned table I'd hidden behind before and gave it a buck. "Just give it to Rose, let her play with it. Besides, the way today's been going, there's probably spiders or something in it." I perked up, noticing something. "Where is Rose, anyway?"

Ibis shrugged as he dropped the briefcase onto one of the piles. "Outside. She said something about flutterponies coming and needing more whiskey."

Snorting, I rolled my eyes. "Great. My loot got stolen, and now Rose is off getting drunk with the breezies." Right then, the lobby door opened and Rose came staggering in. "Rose!" I called out, "what are you... doing... um, who're your friends?" A small group of ponies, some in armor, most in hooded traveling cloaks and light barding, filed in behind my sister and took up position around her, watching us carefully. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ibis discretly reaching for Garden as one of the cloaked ponies moved up alongside Rose, letting her lean on them for support.

"Look, Lily!" Rose called out, beaming. "I found a flutterpony!"

Nervous, I frowned and tried to keep their attention on me and away from Ibis "What are you... on... about..." I trailed off when the pony beside Rose tossed its hood back, revealing a slender, pretty mare underneath.

"Are these your friends, cousin?" The mare said in a soft voice, nuzzling Rose and smiling at me and Ibis. "Pleased to meet you." She took a graceful step forwards, then something moved beneath her cloak and she took to the air, fluttering towards us on big, glittering butterfly wings. "My name is Damsel."

Ibis sat there like a lump, his beak open wide in shock.

"Aheh..." I raised my hoof to wave shakily at Rose's apparent new friends. "You're... you're a... flutter... pony..." Realising I was staring at a breezie tale in the flesh, something shortcircuited in my brain. My eyes rolling back in my head, I passed out, and the last thing I heard was the mare speaking to Rose and sounding worried.

"Oh, oh my, is your friend alright, cousin?"

Author's Note:

Seaponies and flutterponies, oh my.:rainbowlaugh: The group meets the strangest people, don't they?:trollestia:
And yes, this is the real chapter.:derpytongue2: Now with 100% more broken drills.