• Published 16th Mar 2016
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In Memory of... - A Fallout: Equestria Tale - Chaos Phantasm



After reading an old book on the customs and culture of ancient Equestrians, Ditzy Doo sets out for the Ponyville Hellhound Sanctuary, to mourn a loss two hundred and thirty five years passed.

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To That Oak Tree of Two-Hundred and Thirty Five Years

The clouds opened up, and from the gap in their gray blanket came the ray of dawn’s first light, cast over a rugged land of rock and sad puddles which radiated with the sins of the past, dying slowly as years had passed on. The stars’ reach extended through the ruined skyline of Manehatten, skeletal hulks of skyscrapers slowly collapsing while armed ponies patrol their forgotten heights, preying on the weak below and in the streets where other dangers lurk in this place of desolation.

A little ways south, following ruined tracks, past settlements new and defended, a junction stands still and uninterrupted in shaded silence, where once train carts piled up upon one another had now been turned into houses proper, the ponies sleep, safe behind guarded walls of metal, lead, and will. On the walls in front, in faded, chipping white paint, barely two letters and a number displayed itself, ‘JR-7’.

I got in! I passed the test, see?” her voice echoed, so young and innocent.

Luna’s school for gifted unicorns? That’s wonderful! I’m so proud of you.

Do you think I’ll see you again?” she asked once more, uncertain and afraid.

I’ll come visit you everyday.

Her face lit up brighter than the sun on a clear day, with a smile to warm hearts. “You’ll bring big sister too, right?

Of course I will, It wouldn’t be a visit without your big sister, right?

I smiled down at her and nodded assuredly. “Yeah! I promise, and I won’t break it!

But… why did it have to happen? Why did they hurt her? I couldn’t dream anymore, the sun had shone down over Junction Town, some of its light leaked in through the curtains, right into my sleepy walled eyes. I blinked and shifted my eyes to look behind me, I smiled and turned over to face my equal, my mate, Lionheart. He was still asleep, he didn’t look ready to wake up, and Mouse nearby was no different.

I got up fairly early and set up the shop. It didn’t always look like a pre-war business, a few years ago it was just like the rest of the houses, built of corrugated iron, chain link fence and train cars, but that all changed, Junction Town is almost as big as Ponyville now. It made me smile to think that things might go back the way they were, eventually. I lost focus, I was staring outside too long, I shook my head and hurried to prepare the displays, taking care not to break anything… again.

I set down the vases, the pots, the toys and the treats, and on the counter I put some more of said treats, some books, and some knick knacks. Gosh I have a lot of stuff. I would guess the biggest goody I have to set up is that big lovable muffin bear sleeping the morning away, and he’s not for sale, you sillies!

With a happy hop and a twirl, I came back into the bedroom, stopping by Lionhearts bedside, only to bend down and kiss his pale cheek. With a loud groan, he stirred and awoke, he opened his beautiful yellow eyes and yawned. I jumped and fluttered over to the other side of the bed, turned about, and started tapping on the large board which hung above the bed head.

His ears recoiled at the sound and he let out a sigh. “Good morning, Ditzy!” he said in a tired, groggy voice, the volume of which brought the room to a shudder. He looked up to the board, squinting slightly at what I’d wrote this time.

Store is open early! Wake up, sleepy head!” a little heart was drawn beside that with a line running underneath my sentence and a smiley face poking its tongue out.

Lionheart took a deep breath and lifted himself up, he rested on his haunches and flexed his neck a little with small cracking noises following. “Is Silver Bell awake?!

I tossed a small plastic button over at the board again and he turned to look at a re-written notice reading: ‘In case he asks about Silver Bell... again: Grown up, moved out!’ Having to look up at it made him groan. I think it’s funny to remind him our little joy had reached that age where she can go out on her own, even though she comes by the shop and helps out once every week.

I left him to get up on his own, not before giving him a quick kiss good morning. With a heavy sigh, I waited for Junction Town to wake up, and business to begin. I propped open the oak wood door and switched the sign out front to open, meanwhile my muffin bear was just coming out, Mouse following behind in her little hamster ball. I glanced over at the clock on the counter and saw it was still too early, I let my ears fall back and my smile turn upside down.

But then I remembered my book, it wasn’t a new book, it was an old book. Several hundred years old, in fact. I retreated back into the living room area at the back of the store and picked up the old, worn and faded book on the table before finally sitting back and indulging in the words written ages ago. It had a lot of confusing words, I wasn’t sure what many of them meant, but they were very interesting. When I opened it up, I immediately got stuck into the chapter I’d left it on.

I opened up to page two hundred and thirty-seven, chapter thirty-five. It was about family and marriage, it was my favorite chapter and I was only three pages away from finishing it too. A ding came from the register, right as I started the second last page. Following this: a mare’s voice, young, still maturing, fresh out of her teens by only four years, called out as she stepped into the living room with a warm smile. Silver Bell.

I put my book down, page open and greeted her with a hug, which was returned instantly followed by Lionheart’s shouting ‘hello’ from the bathroom. I took time from my reading to write down on one of the boards I kept within reach, my sentence goes as followed:

Are you going to bed on time? Eating healthy?” I wrote them with care, motherly habits that have stuck with me even though Silver Bell is all grown up and independent.

“Yes, same as last time. I’m eating good food and sleeping nights away; until the break of day!” she gave a wide and assuring smile like a grin and set about preparing the store outfront; a little better than Lionheart and I did… okay, a lot better.

I set the bookmark in place, and let my book be, work hours were starting and I was needed. I tapped really hard on the floorboards with my hoof, to which Lionheart tapped back his reply. With a muffled giggle and a happy skip, I reentered the store and got behind the counter. I rubbed off the good morning/hello I wrote on the large chalk board I keep held up by hooks from the ceiling, and replaced it with ‘Welcome to my store, I hope you have a wonderful day!’ Actually, just about everything on my main shop chalkboard spoke for me, from greetings, to farewells, all in good spirit. Price tags spoke for the items.

“Hey.” Silver Bell put a hoof on my shoulder as I was writing. I faced her and noticed her confused expression.

I lifted my eyebrows and tilted my head to emphasize my puzzlement, but out of the corner of my eye, I noticed I had been drawing a straight line down in an arch. Had I lost my trail of thought? I think I did, I don’t know. But I told Silver Bell not to worry through my hooves and my writing. She went back to tending to the store. I wiped away my mistake and shook my head. I completed my rewrites of all the phrases I say on a regular basis to all of my caring customers.

Now to wait.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

By mid-day we had sold items to five customers, one of them being a male alicorn asking for Vertibuck parts. An odd request, but one that isn’t unheard of. We’ve had multiple odd things bought or asked of us. But all of that put aside, I returned to my reading and found myself lost within its paragraphs. So many wonderful things all gone, turned to ash and echoes. The thought alone put me into a sad mindset, my ears flattened on my balding head and I let out a sigh.

“Is that a good book?” Silver Bell asked and came to sit in the chair beside mine. She hovered a tea cup up to her lips, pursed and pressed on the rim, while I replied with a silent nod.

She took a closer look and giggled. “You were reading that last time I was here. It must be a really good book. Sturdy too.”

I put a chalk board down on the arms dividing our chairs: “It’s very interesting. It has stuff about the cultures of Equestria a thousand years before the war. But it’s missing a few pages…” I ended it with a sad face.

“Maybe you’ll find another book like it, with all the pages.” I enjoyed her optimism, my response however was a little less positive than she was.

I don’t think many survived over the years. I have the only copy from Ponyville.” I glanced up at Silver bell, then wrote one more line of dialogue on the chalkboard. “The book is older than Ponyville.

Silver Bell poked the side of her inner cheek and hummed. “Well, since that’s the case it would make things difficult. Maybe one of the caravans will have one?”

I wiped my words from the chalk board with a giggle. I shrugged and thanked her anyway with only a look before finishing the final page of this chapter. With a heavy sigh, I smiled and prepared to turn the page when the music on the radio just nearby on the lamp table beside the couch turned off, only to have a stallion's voice play through the speakers.

Greetings, fillies and gentlecolts, DJ Pon3 here, bringing to you the Wasteland news!

“He sounds a lot older now, doesn’t he? And a little… sad..?” Silver Bell remarked and questioned.

I was half tempted to write a reply, although I didn’t feel up to it. Actually, I thought it was kind of funny she should say that. I’m not aging at all, that’s been established for a long time now, and watching everypony around me grow old is… quite scary, more than ever when I look at Silver Bell.

Normally I’d have news all piled up for you Wastelanders and Republic ponies, but it seems the trouble has died down following Neighvarro. Slavers and Raider sightings have been decreasing, Applejack’s Rangers have been credited for this sudden drop. Even the creatures of taint have been shrinking away from the world, although they’re still prominent enough to make lunch out of an unwary adventurer.

The Ponyville Hellhound sanctuary, under the care of former ministry mare Fluttershy, has experienced a population spike, following the sudden arrival of more Hellhounds in the past two years. As a result of this, the site has been declared off limits to all but Fluttershy and appointed staff and authority.

Now I’ve got one last piece of advice for you little ponies out there, if you’re ever following the caravan routes, or the old Equestria roads, do take the time to admire the scenery. Unless you’re fresh out of a stable, it isn’t hard to see that the last twenty five years have been good to Equestria, healthy apple tree’s, lush green pastures and occasionally flowers, normal, actual flowers. But be careful, not all of Equestria has these random patches of green, some area’s are still tainted and impure, so keep an eye on your Rad-meter, that is all. Now, let's start off this next disc spin with an audience favorite: Like Glitter Like Stars, by Velvet Remedy.

The voice went silent, and was replaced with the song just named in the broadcast. I felt happy to know Equestria was fixing itself, so much so that I forgot all about the book and closed it on the page I was just about to start. The both of us were relaxing, meanwhile Lionheart and Mouse had gone out to see our regular supplier. Our comfort was interrupted when a ding came from the counter. Silver Bell immediately jumped to answer, announcing to the customer she was coming, but I stood up and stood in her way. She paused in her stride and I tapped my chest and motioned to the door.

“Are you sure? I’m perfectly fine serving in your stead.”

I snickered silently and quickly jotted down a few words on a spare board before turning and going out. “You have your own little ones to look out for, don’t go doting on me, silly.

I could hear Silver Bell sigh loudly and laugh; mission accomplished I’d say. The moment I passed under the door frame, I was greeted with the warming smile – and friendly eyes – of Velvet Remedy.

“Good afternoon, Ditzy,” she said, happy to see me.

I immediately came around and squeezed her in a bear hug, the air seemed to whoosh from her lungs. She gasped, patted my back, and I put her down. She shook herself off and took a moment to breath.

“I know, it’s been a while since I last saw you too. I’d visit more often but lately the followers have been in a state of disarray…”

Curious… I wrote down my question of why and her response was related to family and how uneasy she’s been feeling with her age. I assumed it was anxieties, I had anxieties, a long time ago, but I got over it, and I encouraged Velvet to find something to take her mind off of what was bugging her. I knew she would get it together again. Oh no! I was distracted, I immediately snapped back to my duty as proprietor and wrote down my question; ‘How can I help you, Ms. Remedy?

“I was actually looking for some pure water and party snacks. I have a list right here.” She floated the list to me and I looked at what she wanted.

My half rotted ears perked and I smiled; she wanted a lot of the newly manufactured goodies and treats Lionheart has been buying to supply our store. I wrote down the aisles each of these items were in, just as Silver Bell stepped in.

“Ms. Remedy, how lovely it is to see you!”

“Likewise, Silver Bell. Are you still on for tonight?”

Still on for tonight? What was she talking about? I actually wondered if Silver’s barn door had swung. I even asked her, to which she assured me it hadn’t.

“You aren’t aware?” Velvet wondered.

I shrugged and tilted my head, clueless to what she was talking about. The answer didn’t come too late. “We’re hosting a gala or sorts, to commemorate the Littlehorn tragedy. It happened two hundred odd years ago, today. Homage, Xenith, Silver Bell here, Regina, and others will be attending, would you like to come too?”

Littlehorn… of course… how could I have forgotten. I can forgive the years going by and events filling my memory. But to forget that day… and what happened to ‘her... How could I forget the day I…

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

The night of mingling and friendly faces was a little distasteful to me. I sat at a table under the moon and stars and kept to myself, I had… so much to think about. Occasionally I’d glance around and I noticed Silver Bell watching on with concern. I’m fine though, she had her own children to worry about, I only needed to worry about the decisions she makes. Once again, Silver’s lovely painting skills shone through as a commemorative mural was introduced by Regina Grimfeathers.

I didn’t partake in food or drink. I spied a muffin on the snack table and I was tempted, there was only one left, and Xenith ate it! I wanted to cry. I was alone until Velvet, Xenith and Homage came over and asked if they could join me. I smiled, admittedly, I didn’t like being alone.

“Why aren’t you in there, Ditzy? Being a pony born way back then, I assumed you’d be telling stories.” Homage was forward, concerned much like the others.

I scrawled my reply and showed them my answer, “Thinking… Tonight is painful…

Velvet Remedy apologised to me, “I don’t know what could have made this night so painful for you, but I never meant to upset you.”

I placed my hoof over hers in assurance. “It’s okay,” I wrote, “I’m still a million bits. But… I lost somepony to the Littlehorn massacre, and it's got me thinking of a lot of things. No muffins this time. Nothing wrong with you young girls, though.

Velvet snickered at first then chuckled. “Young is putting it rather lightly there, Ditzy. Most of us are barely the youthful heroines and heroes we used to be. I’m a mother now, I’m somewhat happily married; when Calamity comes home for however long he wants to stay.”

Velvet sighed. “If I were to do any of those daring feats of action the likes of which I did long ago, I’d probably break a hip.”

Pfft,” Homage chuckled. “Middle age doesn’t make your bones brittle. It can fade your colors though. Just look at me: my mane’s not quite as blue anymore, and my voice isn’t as young and spry like it was back in the day. Xenith, you’re the second oldest of us in this little circle.”

“That is true. I would be old enough to be a great grandmother now.”

I am a grandmother… Oh wow I feel ancient now.” I wrote to the mare’s amusement.

“It’s too bad Fluttershy couldn’t make it. I understand how important it is to run the sanctuary, but the followers need her here too.”

Homage sighed at Velvet. “You’re speaking like I did a few years back. I was angry at some pervert, he’d tried to be smart so I socked him. I went to see, “her” after that; and I don’t know what went wrong with me. I started screaming and cursing, just the thought of that creep made me wish she was here, you know? We have no idea if she can come out, or if she ever will, I’m proud of her and I miss her.

“But at that moment, for the first time in a long time, I was angry at her, and it was for not being here. I don’t even know if she can age in there so if she does come out, I could be on my deathbed… goodbye to another dream I had long ago.”

“What does that have to do with my complaint, Homage? Our issue’s aren’t at all that similar.” Velvet argued defensively.

“You want Fluttershy to be here now, just like I wanted “her’ back for only a moment. The problem is, Velvet… we can’t always get what we want in life. Things happen, sometimes unavoidable and we can either move on, wait; or we can stay back and let it bother us to death. You, having had two foals already, and a husband who can’t sit still in his old age should know that already; long before now in fact... We all learned this out there in the wasteland.”

I started to tap on the table, looking down at the wood as I remembered. Homage bit her lip in a guilty frown and apologised as best she could, but I understood her, I didn’t agree or take sides, I was just as guilty. I got Velvet’s attention and stretched out my bony wings as best I could before I held my hoof out diagonal to my body.

“I don’t know where Calamity is,” she answered, “I know some stallions go through a midlife crisis and do some crazy stuff. Maybe he’s out hunting Raiders or Slavers, trying to relive the old days…” she sighed out loud and rested her head on the table. “But this makes it hard on me. I miss him, and without him around I feel unloved and uncared for… I know he does, but right now it’s hurting…”

I patted her on the back and gave her a confident counseling smile. “You will find him, Velvet.” my chalk board said. It brought a smile to her face and she sat up, chin high.

Our small group soon gained an extra member as Regina came to sit with us. “How mother was able to work like this is a mystery to me…” She huffed.

“She was patient and lead the republic with her dream in mind,” Velvet educated to Regina’s irritation.

I watched her grip her feathers and speak of how stressed she was about her duty… But I didn’t want to stay anymore. Quietly I got up and left the group to be by themselves. Only Velvet and Xenith took the time to notice. I needed… I needed to clear…

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

I sat by myself in my bedroom. The store was closed, Lionheart was still in attendance at the Littlehorn commemoration ceremony, and Mouse was rolling around the living room, listening to the radio. I wasn’t simply sitting and doing nothing, however. I had resting on the bed, a small box of things from Ponyville, I had gone to collect this a long time ago.

Littlehorn… how could I have forgotten the day I lost her. I went through the box, inside was her enrollment forms for Luna’s School for Gifted Unicorns, a drawing of the both of us, and a…

Photograph…?” I looked down at it in surprise, I recognised it, although it had faded, what was once brimming with color was now almost completely white. Both myself and her sister, she was barely touched.

I remember this…” I thought to myself, “I remember a warm breeze, it was spring. She was celebrating her Cute-ceañera, and her acceptance into the school…” It was a happy day for all of us. Taken away only months later, only hours ago today, so many years ago.

I felt like crying but nothing came… no tears… they all dried up, but I could still feel them, rolling down my cheeks as if I had them, I closed my eyes and hugged the picture close, my imaginary tears falling to the floor with slight thumps as though were real. A few deep breaths later, I put the photo back and closed the lid of the box with everything inside.

With a slight little squeak, Mouse came rolling into the room and over at my side.

I looked over to her and gently placed my hoof at the top hemisphere of Mouse’s ball, my way of assuring her I was alright. She could tell I was feeling a little down, but she didn’t know I was feeling… selfish I guess… Seeing her face again, even if it was just a photo, caused deep in my belly a yearning, to hug her again, to see her laugh… but I remember Silver Bell, she was just like that.. just like that…

I froze in place, Mouse was barely audible anymore. Why did they hurt her? She was innocent… I needed to take my mind off of it. Off of Littlehorn and my now bubbling grief, only two centuries ago repressed now back to haunt me. I took a quick glance at Mouse, gave her a little smile before getting up and going to the living room, over to my chair where my book awaited my eyes to gloss over the tiny old words.

Finally, I turned that page I left some hours ago to see my interests piqued by the chapter's title. ‘Burial Practices, and Honoring the Deceased.’

I spent the next hour reading it, it had some pages missing but there was enough to learn the various methods of prayer, burial, offerings and all. Mouse had gone to sleep and I slowly but surely lost track of time. One of the passages caught my attention and inspired me, and for the first time in a long time, I felt I had to do something. Slowly, I put down the book and stared out into the corner of the room.

A warm but sad smile formed on my lips; tomorrow I would be walking the caravan trail.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

A wagon built of fresh wood with shelves and a tarp over each side waited close to the store, filled slowly by items for sale by myself.

Food such as apples, vegetables and pre-war snacks were added onto the small caravan-like carriage. A barrel of apples hung from the side, copies of my book, The Wasteland Survival Guide were kept in one of the many side saddles lining the bottom half of the cart. I had completely filled it with tradeable goods, including some newly manufactured wares, a majority of which came from the shop. At the center of the cart, hidden away behind the produce and junk food, was purified water. I made sure to keep it separated from the irradiated water this time.

From nearby I was watched with curious eyes by Lionheart, Velvet Remedy and some other residents of Junction Town of whom had little else of apparent interest to do but spectate. I attached chalk boards to one of the four corner bars and let out a satisfied sigh. My cart was complete, now all I had to do was attach it and go out. But, as I went to put the harness on, Silver Bell approached with Lionheart, who was unwilling to let his volume ring out; used one of my chalk boards to ask if I was sure.

I had something to do, and I was as sure as my heart beating in my chest that I wanted to go out, alone. I saw, even with my oddly positioned eyes which made me so recognizable, that he opposed my leaving on a solo trade tour. Even Silver Bell, who had come out with me for so long on various trading runs in her youth, had a glimmer of opposition in her eyes.

“You don’t have to, you know? Let me come with you, it’ll be like old times.” Silver Bell sounded as if she was pleading… I didn’t like that and frowned at her for it, but my smile melted it away and I wrote my reply:

No. This is something I must do alone. I need some closure, and this is the only way I know I can get it. You look so much like her.

Silver Bells' eyes widened with confusion, and as she went to reply I had already made my approach toward the large steel gates made of corrugated iron and rusted metal. The cart pulled close behind, rolling on wooden, chariot-like wheels. A large alicorn male, the same as the day before, opened the gate for me. He bid me a kind farewell and safe travels. With a loud clang and a shrill squeak, the gates opened out and I stepped back into the wasteland, the green Wasteland.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

I softly treaded down a long stretch of road at a comfortable but steady canter. The walk was peaceful and devoid of any commotion that could break tranquil quiet of the surrounding nature.

I looked out over the hills and saw trees, their apples fresh, taint free and shining red in the sun bearing down on me today. I admired the flowers growing fresh from clean soil and sighed in serenity over the chirps of the returning birds. My ears twitched to the slightest break of silence, and it tickled almost; I felt tingly all over and shuddered.

On my way along the road, I heard the thunder of a waterfall. I looked over into the valley toward a cliff where what had once been dirty water tumbled down clean and pure into a freshwater river populated by a variety of creatures that have adapted to the decline in radiation.

I stepped where brahmin have tread, their pony handlers’ hoofprints beside those. It was a perfectly beautiful day, the region Junction Town sat was very healthy, all of the plants had been able to grow in comfort, but sometimes a wasteland monster would come along and ruin the beauty, Bloat Sprites being common. I started walking up a slanted hill, already Junction Town was a mile or so behind and almost out of view, and when it finally was out of view, I had left the valley.

Left behind now are the stunning views of green, a call back to Equestria’s prime, like echoes reaching out and gripping onto the present, as if to stop itself from going any farther. I paused at the mouth of the Junction Town region, out across the caravan trail spanning the wasteland of a mix of earth, dust and flora. With a heavy sigh, I checked my caravan map. The road to Ponyville will take me past a few settlements before I arrived, and my deadline was in a week. With a quick glance, tilting the map this way and that, I put it back.

Now I walk out into the vast emptiness, a warm wind blowing through the remains of my mane. I saw out there a downed cloudship, one of the long destroyed Enclave aerial weapons. It was partially hidden beneath the sand, slanted on its side.

I marveled at it as I walked, and I could see some ponies gathered around the metal hull and large metal slabs which rose from the ground jaggedly, scavengers? They looked like it. They didn’t bother me and I didn’t want to bother them. Things have changed but not too much, and besides, I didn’t want to get side tracked, that wouldn’t have been good at all. I passed by them and continued on down the dirtied road. I turned on the radio built into a compartment on the cart and listened happily to the tunes the DJ put out.

In time I came upon the first settlement on my way through to Ponyville, Cantervale, a small town which had only just rooted itself within the Republic about fifteen years ago. It was built from remnants of the cloudships and raptors., it was one of the few places out here in the wild wastes that had clean water from the nearby spring, and grass, although it was far from any paradise. Nearby pools of radioactive sludge bubbled and released nauseous gas. There looked to be the melted remains of a pump but other than a quick glance I paid it no mind.

I came to a stop at the entrance to Cantervale, guarded by sharpshooters in large iron towers either side of the entrance with two robots standing motionless, on guard and alert. They greeted me and allowed me to set up shop temporarily within the settlement, though I wasn't staying for very long. Cantervale was built right on the caravan path, mostly as a rest stop for caravaneers. I passed through the center of town, stopping occasionally to buy or sell wares to ponies, in addition to handing out some water to beggars in the streets, although it was a little unfair to the other ponies, there were other water caravans that came through, but I wasn't one of them.

I pressed onward, through Cantervale’s rear entrance and again out into the wasteland, this time my route was to take me to Gildacross.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

I arrived in the night and I was tired. I let out a weary sigh and had collapsed onto my haunches by the time I had reached the town’s bar. I unlatched the carts reins from my saddle and took a swig of some radioactive water for my trouble. I looked up at the cart and turned off the radio, silence filled up the space and I looked down the various streets in strange melancholy; it was lonely. I was in the middle of a street, so I pulled my cart to the side and got out a sleeping bag to lay under my cart’s tarp.

Lights had gone out already, all over the town, small and glittery lights sprung up all over the sky and they twinkled brightly against the black backdrop of the great beyond. I laid flat on my sleeping bag and raised a hoof to them as though reaching out to somepony dear and beloved. I breathed a heavy sigh and closed my eyes lightly.

When they reopened I was in Ponyville, under a large oak tree with a picnic of muffins and sweets and other treats laid out bare as the basket laid in the corner beside another mare and a filly. They were eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, there was a half-eaten muffin on the filly’s plate and a cup beside that. I licked my lips and tasted muffin crumbs tingling on my tastebuds, mmmhmmm.

They were talking about something, I couldn’t hear them, I was deaf to their voices until spoken to directly.

“What do you think, Ditzy?” asked the mare.

“Huh? I’m sorry, I must’ve dozed off,” I said and giggled in reply.

“You’re really tired aren’t you?” the filly giggled. it brought a smile to my face and I lapped up some of my tea sitting just in front of me.

“My shift’s gotten longer since the Zebra started attacking. Most of the other mail ponies are off fighting in the war, and I’m here, delivering mail from here to Cloudsdale.” I chuckled and fiddled with my muffin between my hooves.

“At least I still get days off to spend time with you two.”

The magenta mare smiled, happy to hear that, and nodded. “Yeah, it’s wonderful to have you around, Ditzy. It’s not all the time the three of us can enjoy a simple picnic anymore. It seems as though everypony's…” she paused and looked back down at Ponyville, “changing...”

“Sparkler… I’m sure everything will be just fine. We just need to talk to the Zebras. They’ll understand,” the filly said with her bright, warm smile and innocent face.”

I felt my heart start to ache at her words and put a hoof to my chest. They didn’t notice, they took no notice and acted the same they did that day, as if I was still doing what I had done then. This dream was a memory and it started to hurt.

I forced my eyes awake and sat up quickly to down the main street of Gildacross. I got up and put away my sleeping bag. The time looked about early morning, the sun was barely up but the sky looked like that of dawn, hmm… I guess I woke up too early. I didn’t mind an early morning, it just meant I could move in early, although something held me back.

I couldn’t put my hoof on it, but I think I felt a pair of eyes watching me from nearby. I turned around to see the tops of some foals’ heads, peeking out from around a corner. They looked afraid of me, I didn’t blame them, my appearance isn’t as normal as it used to be.

I smiled toward them and turned back to packing up much of the stuff on sale, preparing them for the trip to the Cloudsdale ruins. There was a town there also, it was a bit ways off of the main Ponyville route, but I figured I could make the trip. In the meantime, My ear twitched to the sound of the foals chattering amongst themselves, something about my help.

Once more I turned and this time I saw a small foal approach me, a filly, holding in her mouth a scratched up, pre-war bit, not a bottle cap. She laid it down at my hooves and looked up to me with her eyes black from lack of sleep and her body bruised from beatings.

“Please, miss…” she started in a Trottingham accent, “do you have any medicine? My big sister’s sick…”

I looked at her, mouth open slightly in shock and picked up the bit in my hoof. I then turned and grabbed one of my chalk boards and wrote: “Could you take me to her?

The filly nodded and her friends came out, only to start running down the street. The filly motioned for me to follow and she darted off after them. I quickly put away the board and hooked myself back up to the cart, and with me it came to an alley on the other side of the town where resting on a makeshift bed of cardboard boxes and old-world pillows, was a young mare who looked fresh out of fillyhood. Her mane was long and messy, her coat dirtied and she looked malnourished. She was a pegasus and she needed help.

“We can’t move her… She’s been talking in her sleep and shaking. She’s like a big sister to us, and that bit is all we have to pay for medicine…”

I looked on disheartened and I examined the mare’s illness. She looked to be suffering symptoms of radiation poisoning, and not only that, she had various infected wounds, most of which looked like dog bites. My wares cost a hefty amount of caps; but a pre-war bit, to me at least was worth more than a sack of caps. I smiled at them and gave them radaway, some health potions and disinfectant.

But silly me forgot they didn’t know how to use that stuff, and I’m clumsy so I might make things worse. But I had to try, for her. I administered the radaway and gave her the health potion, I applied the disinfectant, not quite perfectly; and I tried putting the bandages on. I didn’t do too good... But it was enough.

On the board I told the foals that she should be alright in a little while. She awoke just long enough for us to talk, she told me not to worry about her, and she thanked me. I had butterflies in my stomach, happy, dancing butterflies. With a satisfied sigh, I left a box of fresh bottled water, clean as mountain water for them, and took my leave of Gildacross, on my way to Ponyville.

We can’t always get what we want in life.

I chuckled to myself as I thought back to Homage’s words, there is truth to them, but not here, not today.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

I hummed a tune, a happy tune which made the trip all the more relaxing. I came to a stop at the top of a hill, and looked out toward the land ahead. The region started to glow with fresh grass and clean soil again and in the distance I could see the perma-cloud remnants of Cloudsdale, just on the horizon. Even from the hill it was hard to see the shadowed land beneath the remnants where I had fallen and watched with horror as the home of all Pegasi was swept away in a blast of true chaos.

I continued to look out at the perma-cloud with the remains of houses still attached to the various cloud remnants floating about. To think the Enclave kept those ruins hidden behind a gray veil. The perma-cloud didn’t appear until a few years ago, and even so, it was a haunting sight. The remnants couldn’t even be called clouds anymore, they might as well be a corpse. They were warped by the blast and burned into the sky forever, like the shadows of ponies caught in the flash on ground zero.

Admittedly, my heart raced at seeing them even if it was from very far away, but at the same time, the patches of exposed flesh on my body burned at the memory of that fateful day. I figured it would take at least half a day to get there, and I still had three days to get to Ponyville. Instead of idling a second longer, I started trotting down the hill and into the prairie below, along a stretch of grassland and dirt which reminded me of the greeny greens I used to see in Ponyville and on my mail runs.

Thunder clapped in the far distance, back toward Neighvarro. I turned my head in its direction and paused for a moment to see the lighting far away over the Smokey Mountains, only to sigh and with a smile continue down the road.

Along the way I hummed to myself, an old Cloudsdale folk song:

Feathers from the wing

Drifting on the breeze.

Like little baby birds,

Taking flight that’s free.

Small little filly,

Take flight home soon.

Lovely little girl

Fly back home soon.

A wind, warm but still quite cool blew through my mane and carried aloft grass seeds and orange and brown leaves of autumn's color; it made this journey all the more relaxing. I would sigh and let my head fall back with my eyes closed and enjoyed this rare wind which soothed and relaxed me. I had chills and I giggled playfully, continuously humming the old childhood song.

I slowly stepped down a steep hill and I fought the weight of my cart at the same time, pushing against me and surely to crush me if I slipped. I thought to myself over and over; ‘Don’t slip, don’t slip…’ until I reached the bottom, even then I had to make sure the cart didn’t roll down and pick me up or flatten me.

The cart came to be flat and steady once it had reached the bottom, and I let out a puff of air in relief. I was fully prepared to start moving again when a shadow flew overhead; another pegasus, I assumed. I looked up to be sure, only to see there was nothing, nothing but the smell of fire which dissipated on the wind and became no more; I thought that was quite curious.

Waah! I’m getting sidetracked, I was getting sidetracked that is… I think? Anywho, I shook my head and continued down the road, kicking up dust as I tread and sneezing quite loudly.

I breathed in some of the dust and started coughing, it was gross because it was settled cloud dust and ash, I felt dirty and quickly hurried out of that spot, back onto a cleaner part of the path. My eyes were screwed shut and out of my mouth came raspy, guttural coughs which ceased after a moment. I rubbed my eyes and opened them to be blinded by the glare of sun off of metal. My ears flickered to the sound of hoofsteps, heavy and with a breath, deep and metallic.

I opened my eyes and saw ahead of me, a trio of ponies, one of them an alicorn, clad in metal armor with red paint on the many armor parts, a rebreather was attached the the muzzle and at their sides were rocket packs and magic based weaponry. These were members of the Applejack’s Rangers, and they were approaching me.

I backed up a little and, my face was probably bearing my panic. They were intimidating and I didn’t want to get in their way. The alicorn, clad in custom Enclave armor, seemed to pause in its stride upon noticing me.

I froze up and almost went rigid, I blinked for a moment and it was gone, and the rangers didn’t seem to mind, in fact they kept walking, and given my history with the Steel Rangers in the past I was instinctively obligated as a ghoul to stay away from ponies with power armor; not to contradict past encounters that is, I know the Applejacks Rangers are nice and I’ve done business with them before, on occasion. I guess this time I was just intimidated, I shouldn’t be afraid.

I quickly snapped back to my normal self and shook my head, why was I acting so cowardly in front of them? I’m a merchant! I took a deep breath and waved my hoof in salutations, only the Rangers didn’t look to be in the mood for talking, or buying as they passed me by, the middle one turning his head to look at me in his passing.

But what about the alicorn? Did it fly away? Or was it never there? Waah… Thinking about it made me dizzy. I needed to keep my calm, but that was still a little tough as I heard behind me a loud hiss like air escaping and the sound of a metal casing opening up which made me jump.

I turned around to see the alicorn, letting her purple mane out and letting out a sigh whilst fixing her amber eyes upon me as she exited the cold, claustrophobic armor that had closed itself around her.

She didn’t look at all that different in size and appearance to that of the other alicorns, other than her unique lilac coat and light purple mane in a style that covered her left eye and left her right side visible. I wonder how she was able to fit that beautiful mane inside of her helmet, and the metal body armor she wore within the armor clad frame. When she blinked I saw she wore eye shadow, a darker shade of purple which also seemed to cover her eyelids and extended out toward her eyebrows in a sharp, slightly curved upward point.

“I remember you; from a long time ago, Ditzy.” She spoke in a slow and calm voice which resonated with a centuries-old maturity and a happy cadence which sounded like surprise and joy, but it was cushioned by her calm demeanour and almost motherly disposition.

And for a moment there, I thought I was looking into the face of Sparkler. I grabbed my chalk board and tried to write down my thoughts, my questions, but I was at such a loss for them that the chalk broke and fell to the ground at our hooves. I was shaking, I couldn’t wait to know, I wanted to know and I rushed.

I bent down to pick up the broken piece which was larger than the the piece I placed into my cart, only to watch it radiate with magic and levitate up to me, and I realized she was using her magic.

“You’re still so clumsy,” she giggled and grinned, a change from her calm front which I warmed up to.

I used this moment of calm to write down my question: “You know who I am?

She took only a glance and nodded once, not a word was uttered by her, like she was secretive? I think that’s the word for it. She didn’t seem talkative, and nearby her compatriots were standing in wait, the center Ranger grinding his armored hoof along the ground.

I erased and wrote a new question; “How do you know me? Do I know you?” I had to know... desperately, I had to know.

“I remember you used to deliver mail to me, I remember sitting with you sometimes. But... I do not remember how we are acquainted, and I do not remember my name.”

Her eyes changed, they didn’t have that look of familiarity anymore, they looked sad and with loss and remorse. “I’m not who I was anymore, and I accept that, though I struggle still with my old memories; trying to remember who I once was. For all I know, I could have the memories of one of the many shared by the unity, in which case I could be anypony.”

That was hurting me, I could be talking to somepony entirely different, but with the memories of somepony else, I didn’t think an alicorns mind worked like that; that memories of past lives would scatter and such when they were ‘united,’ and become trapped in bodies that were never theirs to begin with. Maybe this alicorn Ranger was in fact the original holder of those memories, or maybe she wasn’t… how would you know?

I was hoping you were somepony else.” my ears folded back down, I was crestfallen…

The alicorn probably regarded me with pity, she placed on the cart’s edge eighty bits, eighty pre-war bits! With almost flawless condition, which surprised me.

“If you don’t mind, I’d like to purchase a jug of fresh water, it does get rather hot out here and we ran out of our supply a little ways back. I like to be organized, you know?” There it was again, that happy look in her eyes.

I looked at the bits gobsmacked and looked up at the nameless alicorn. Pre-war bits, almost flawless and eighty of them to boot, they were rarer than the new bit currency introduced seventeen years ago, and worth practically nothing now, except to me. Just like those foals, she had given me relics and I repaid that with a box full of fresh bottled water, as requested. This didn’t mean I don’t have more, I always travel prepared.

She spread the bottles out between herself and her friends and handed the box back. We looked at one another for a while and she opened her mouth to speak, only for the voice of a stallion to cut her off.

“Ranger. Belladonna! We have wasted enough time here, it is time to move!” the voice sounded young as if it belonged to a colt just nearing stallionhood, it didn’t sound nearly as masculine as I would’ve thought, but it was a voice still that commanded respect, and demanded attention, it was also impatient.

Belladonna?’ I thought to myself. ‘Was that her name? But she just said—

The Alicorn, Belladonna, turned her gaze toward the commanding ranger with an annoyed glare. “Yes, Renja.”

She turned her eyes back to me and saw my confusion written on my face. “I don’t remember my original name, so when I joined Applejack’s Rangers, they started calling me, Belladonna. I like the name, it’s the same as nightshade.”

She looked proud of having that new name, she was smiling, and I could tell even after she re-entered the armor and let it close up around her, she was still smiling.

She flapped her wings, clad in the armor's flexible metal and folded them up at her sides. “Safe travels to you, Ditzy Doo,” she spoke in an electronic voice from within the steel helmet. The armor amplified her intimidating and powerful appearance, taking the alicorns’ legendary natural terror-inducing resistance and power and maximizing it from within the safety of steel armor.

I watched Belladonna leave with her entourage, the sounds of metal hooves stomping on the ground were no more, and I had replaced the following silence with the clopping of my hooves, and the squeak of my wagon wheels.

I was still too far from a large town built within the shadow of the perma-cloud ruins. A hub of sorts where mostly Pegasi and Griffon stay, or tourists go to bask in the glory of the Cloudsdale remnants. The town was built around a mass grave site the NCR set up in memory of all the victims of the Megaspell. I haven’t seen it yet, this will be the first time I’ve been there.

Maybe I’ll find my name on a headstone or a plaque, after all there was nopony there to see me fall, or help me up. I’d find out soon whether my name was a part of the deceased or not.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

The whirring of Vertibucks and the roars of Stratadons circling the perma-cloud allowed for a less peaceful silence then I had been hoping for.

I sighed, I wasn’t expecting it to be so busy and bustling this far out in the outskirts of Memoria. My hooves were aching and my waist and hips were almost chaffed by the harness, it was uncomfortable… But still, it was all worth it. I had to get to Ponyville, even if I had to endure the uncomfortable feeling in my sides.

It was already late sundown, and the perma-cloud remnants of Cloudsdale glowed with bright sandy colours against a blue and pink backdrop that was the afternoon sky. The ground at my hooves grew darker than it already was. I looked up and let out a weary sigh, only to continue what was now a short walk into the walled, Dodge City styled town of Memoria.

A Griffon and a Pegasus stood guard by the front by the gates; the Griffon’s wings were armored with wing blades and at his side was a magical rifle. The pegasus wore a battle saddle and NCR-recreated Enclave standard military armor, with the emblem replaced.

A landing vertibuck screeched on touchdown as the propellers quickly came to a stop. The noise frightened me and almost caused the carriage to topple over as I suddenly reared up startled. I wasn’t the only one startled it seemed, the Stratadons that had made the Cloudsdale remnants their home roared and hissed above me, and I saw the guards turn their heads skyward in preparation for an attack.

But nothing happened, the Stratadons did not fly down, they did not swoop or try and kidnap anypony, I havn’t seen this behaviour in them before. Back in my time, Stratadons lived in the badlands, and anypony that went there was kidnapped and taken away. I found a book a few years ago about a realm where Centaur and Gargoyles lived, and it said Stratadons were a native dragon there. Not a lot of ponies know that, so I figured I’d say something about it. I’ve had a lot of time to read about this stuff.

I walked through the wooden gates, the guards greeting me with smiles before returning their attention to the wasteland and skies. I nodded at them in greeting and as I passed under the arch, I felt as though I had travelled back in time, before the bombs.

Just by looking at the streets and buildings, you couldn’t tell the difference, unless one would inspect the attire of many of the ponies. Clothes weren’t very popular long ago, and yet I wear a hooded cloak wherever I go. So now I thought I’d look around, I’d need to be extra careful as lugging around this cart could draw attention to myself from ruffians and others of the like.

I unlatched my harness and in a spot out of everypony's way, I closed up the cart. I then pushed the shelves in toward the center where they neatly came together in a small square, covering up the water bottles and in turn my treasures. After that, I pulled down the small shutters around the window-like viewing space, and locked them in place on all sides. Now the merchandise was untouchable, and the thieves in this town couldn’t get a hold of them.

So I suppose my first stop is the memorial square, I heard that was where the deceased are remembered, and that is where I went. As ponies were lighting old fashioned lanterns lining and illuminating the streets, I slowly walked along what turned out to be a tiled road. Curious, I tilted my head and bent my neck down to get a closer look. Just like old-world Canterlot, the streets were tiled. Odd, very odd.

But it was a classy kind of odd! I liked it very much; it beat Junction Town’s dirt and gravel covered ground which made walking around barehoof a pain, and caused dust to get into places dust shouldn’t be, I mean, how am I supposed to clean the dust out from underneath my shoulder blades and wing joints? It’s not pleasant.

Even so, I was happy to be feeling a difference for once, my hooves felt really good on this relaxing surface. I walked through a zigzag of houses like a maze, this place might as well have been a city, in a way it was. It wasn’t nearly as late as it looked when I came to the memorial square, a perma-cloud fragment hovered high above the town which cast a permanent shadow over it, and in a way made the candles that lit up the square burn brightly.

It was quite a large enclosed park-like area, with benches and grass and bushes, but in the center of it all, with a concrete path leading up to it, was a bronze statue of a pegasus who looked to be a Wonderbolt, Rainbow Dash before the ministry’s with an intact Cloudsdale included. Beneath it was a golden plaque with the names of all the Wonderbolts who died in the destruction of Cloudsdale, even the names of some fellow ghouls I know were listed. And on the surrounding walls, was the names of the civilians. I searched for my name on a lone slab with a silver plate screwed in place at its corners; with lots of the names on it.

And there it was, my name, etched into the metal, listed between Cloudchaser and Dumbbell on a messy list. It wasn’t alphabetized; it was just thrown together, I was frustrated by it… but that wasn't going to change anything… Maybe I’ll make an appeal to, Regina, to have the plaques fixed. I heard that Velvet was in charge of their creation, I regret to think she did such a shoddy job.

But still, I felt in my chest the pain of all I’ve lost, the despair of watching Cloudsdale blown away and burned into the sky, and the pain of hitting the ground in burning agony. It was almost unbearable, so much so that I wrapped a piece of my cloak around my muzzle to hide my pained expression.

I left some flowers at the foot of the memorial, and placed some of the pre-war bits beneath the statue of the Rainbow Dash-reminiscent pony; before I went out and around town to sell whatever goods I could. I didn’t expect to be given anymore bits from here on out.

I was expecting to get more customers, then again I sold out on the apples fairly quick, and was now down to just selling junk and lockpicks, and occasionally old, but still readable books. I was doing a job already taken, this town seemed to have everything regarding day-to-day stuff, except the junk I carried with me. I guess I was safe to close up shop and move on, but it was late, too late to move on; and a town crier nearby had only now just announced a sighting of Star Spawn close by the south road; which was the quickest way to Ponyville.

I was in the middle of locking up when I spied a group of ponies gathered around a stage, with a unicorn dressed in a clean suit and top hat talking about something. It piqued my interest, so I went over toward the crowd and found a place to view the stage with ease. What I saw and heard brought up one of my less frequent emotions, anger.

“I know there are a few of you here who are interested in procuring pre-war relics, things from springs to strings and frilly things. Dresses, shoes, trophies, art! Or maybe something a little more precious.”

The pony sounded like one of those late war-time sales ponies who came door to door with stuff you didn’t want. This pony, whoever he is, was worse than them. He turned his back to the crowd, and when he turned back around he held in his hoof an urn, a burial urn which looked as though it had dated back to Firefly’s time. They stole it… whether from the Pegasus burial grounds or from one of the many perma-cloud fragments was unknown, but I was furious.

“This is a burial urn.” He opened it, and pulled out a bag of ashes. “This is the remains of the pony inside, you can have the urn and discard the waste. We’re selling a vast majority of these burial urns at a price of fifty Republic Bits!”

I was disgusted by this, while my odd glare was fixed upon this pony, I failed to notice his armed friends nearby. I picked up a rock and threw it the moment I felt the urn would be safe. It hit the business pony in the face, leaving an ugly lump on the side of his head. He put the urn and ashes down before he could dropped them, and with an angry growl through gritted teeth, he looked out at the crowd, and with a booming voice he demanded to know who threw the rock. His two bodyguards drew their guns which garnered some looks from a few dangerous looking folks.

I wouldn’t let that scoundrels question go unanswered, so I wrote down my reply in large letters on my chalk board and held it up for him to see. “By selling those you disrespect the pony who passed away! You should be ashamed of yourself!

He growled at me. “Listen here, you walking corpse! Ain’t nopony claimed none of these relics, so as far as I’m concerned I’m free to sell, smash and disrespect these as much as I like. So shove off!”

Ith unfair!!” I cried out in my dry and gravelly voice with great difficulty, my words weren’t as flexible as they used to be, but at least without my tongue I could form those words, somewhat. “Dhe dead... sood be honored!”

I felt my vocal cords tighten once more, and I coughed violently for forcing my words and my voice through pipes unused since long ago. I held a hoof to my throat with a searing pain burning from within, and I breathed hoarsely with a loud rasp.

“What’s the matter, rotter? Rat got ya tongue?” He laughed and motioned for his friends to make a move on me, knives and guns drawn.

I looked up at them and backed away, fearful. I risked turning away to grab a gun from my cart and I held it in my mouth, I don’t know why I bothered, because I couldn’t shoot it, nor did I have the will.

Three individuals from the audience drew weapons of their own, a majority of the crowd dispersed in panic as they came running; but were brought to a standstill. I shut my eyes tight as the ears of all were assaulted by machine gun fire which tore through the air and drowned out the terrified screams of onlookers. Bullets whizzed past me; and I heard metal break and guns fall to the ground. Then the shooting stopped.

“Oh crap, it’s him!” I heard one of the bodyguards call.

“But the boss—” the other started.

“Leave him!” the first one cried out and ran away with the other.

Shaken, I reopened my eyes slowly to see the business pony on the ground with a griffon calling some earth ponies to assist. He was bleeding, wounded, but not dead. I stepped a little further out in the open and found myself caught in the shadow of another pony, and I cowered.

“Bin awhile since Ah’ve seen ya out and about, Ms. Doo.”

That voice… I put down the water gun I held in my mouth, and turned around to see him. Standing on a rooftop, the moonlight shining through gaps in the perma-cloud as his backdrop, armed with a modified battle saddle and wearing an old black hat and a shredded cloak which flowed as a wind blew by.

Calamity…” I smiled brightly, happy to see a familiar face this far south.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

I placed a box of cybernetics and wiring beside the dinner table of Calamity’s Memoria home; while he set down a ‘lovely’ looking dinner.

“Ah know you ghouls don’t need t’ eat and all, it’s a force o’ habit, so Ah don’t mind if ya don’t eat it.” He sat down and dug into his brahmin meat and corn.

I didn’t feel the urge to eat, I didn’t even need to eat, but because it was polite, and because Sparkler would never hear the end of it, I sat at the table, sitting opposite Calamity and ate the corn mostly, in addition to a few other things he put on a side plate out of consideration. I couldn’t stomach meat, and I was almost appalled to see another pony eat meat, it didn’t sit right with me.

The corn, the vegetables and some rad-water was all I had, and Calamity finished the rest. In the meantime, I wrote on a chalk board. “So, is this your new home?

He took a glance at my writing and grew quiet. He didn’t stay silent though. “Fer now. This place cost me five hundred Republic bits. Ah did some research and found houses back in yer day cost more than a foreleg an’ a hind leg.”

I nodded to confirm his findings were sound, and again wrote fresh on the board. “So what have you been doing all this time? You haven’t been sightseeing, have you?

“Hasn’t Velvet told’ya yet?” He looked straight at me.

I saw his unsurprised confusion written on his face, which at his age had started to sport wrinkles, signs of insomnia under his eyes and a small beard of sorts. Short and light as his rust-colored coat which over time lost its young natural look and took on more of a light orange and white color, like a goatee which didn’t look right on him. And don’t get me started on his ponytail and graying mane.

You’re hunting Raiders, Slavers. Left over riff-raff from before the Republic.” I wrote.

“Not just that, Ditzy.” He moved his plate aside and leaned forward, hooves pressed together under his chin. “Ah’m tryin to make the world safer, faster an’ more effectively than them Applejack’s Rangers.”

What about the Alicorn Corps?” I asked, tilting my head in curiosity.

Calamity took large gulps of water from his canteen, he slammed it down on the table and took some deep breaths before wiping a purple foul looking liquid which looked the color of grape juice from his lips. “They were disbanded when Regina took Gawdyna’s place. The Alicorn Corps were the best there was fer a time. Now Ah hear they’ve been joinin’ up with the Rangers and servin’ as town guards.”

There seemed to be less and less reason to talk to Calamity as time drifted on, as if like a banshee he was sucking joy right out from my under my paper skin. His body language told me he was nervous and wasn’t used to guests. His manners were mediocre and his lack of eye contact reminded me of a certain pony and his blue box; although he was reasonable and gentlecoltly… Oh gosh I sound like Rarity.

So I asked him: “Why set up here in, Memoria? Why not go home?

He sighed and looked me in the eyes. “Do ya know what Velvet said t’ me before Ah left? She said “You would rather abandon yer family fer some glory day gallivanting? Then so be it. Don’t bother commin’ back.””

This didn’t sound like Velvet at all, not even her actions a few nights ago indicated a falling out.

“Ah’ve been tryin to relive the days Ah spent with Pip on the wanderin’ trail. But Velvet’s right, Ah’m an old fool doin things well past mah prime. This battle saddle’s bin weighing me down fer sometime.

“Ah came here to keep an eye on the tomb raidin’ ring, whose been nabbin’ Pegasus burial urns and ashes. You were almost put down by a few of ‘em.”

I clapped my hooves together as a sign of thanks. Looking past his head I spied a picture of Velvet and himself on their wedding day, it was painted like the old pre-Twilight era paintings. I smiled dreamily and remembered my marriage to that lovable muffin who sleeps in my bed.

It didn’t take but a moment for Calamity to realize what I was looking at. He turned his head around to look at it as well with a smile.

“Ah couldn’t leave that behind. Ah’m certain Velvet will rip me apart like a Hellhound if Ah got it ruined. It keeps me happy it does. Bin meanin’ to put it out in the livin room though.”

I pressed a hoof to my chest and motioned a smile with my lips before extending my hooves out to him. It signed: “The love you share with her is the source of your happiness.”

He blushed and nodded, I could tell he was embarrassed. It was adorable. then the mood changed, he took off his hat and walked over to one of his drawers in the living room and pulled out a photograph.

“Ah’m sure you’ve heard about the phenomena goin on in Neighvarro?” He looked dead serious about whatever involved Neighvarro, I shook my head. I wasn’t aware something was going on over there, and with my answer he presented the photo to me.

The photo showed the SP Tower, same as it always was; except for the haze. What looked like a thick smog and high pressure winds circling the area gave off an eerie sense of dread.

“Ah went there a few months back t’ tick off the dragon fer a bit. A friendly conversation. But when Ah got there, there was nothin. It was cold, it chilled me down to the bone. Mah battle saddle had icicles formin’ off of it. Ah stepped into the mist and Ah thought Ah saw Pip.

“Ah don’t know if it was her or not, she didn’t look right. Nothin’ about bein’ their felt right; and Spike’s been missing since. Ah haven't left Memoria since getting back. Whatever was in that mist had a pipbuck, it had Pip’s posture and it acted like her, but when Ah called to her mah blood ran cold. It... It wasn’t a pony, it looked like one but the moment it looked at me, Ah knew it was no pony. Ah doubt Ah’ve even flown as fast as Ah did in mah life.”

A haze? A mist in Neighvarro surrounding the SP Tower? And Spike gone? That sounded really creepy. Just looking at the photo was giving me bad vibes. Homage hadn’t gone back there in years despite her promises, and if she did, I feared the worst.

I gave the photo back to Calamity and he put it away. “Ah’ll show it to Homage if she comes down this way.”

I tapped my hoof on the table for attention and shook my head. I held my chalkboard, keeping another at my side. “You need to get that photo to Tenpony Tower, and you need to go home.

“But Velvet—” He barely had another chance to speak after I cut him off.

I showed him the other board. “Velvet misses you. Your family misses you, Calamity. Stop running away and go back to where there are ponies who care for you.

I watched him scan the board and then lower his gaze to the floor. I could only imagine how guilty he felt. I quickly scribbled down a few last words before I left. I am certain he will go back to Junction Town, than to Tenpony Tower to give Homage the photo. I turned the board around once more and watched him smile at it with a chuckle.

“True words. Ah haven’t been a good husband lately. Ah left a year ago, it’s goin’ to be awkward at first, but…” He glanced at the board again, the quote still fresh. “Not everthin’ works out the way we want it to.”

I nodded with a happy smile.

“By the way, Ditzy. Where’re ya headed?” he gave me one of those looks he gets when he’s suspicious. “Ah’m perfectly aware yer a trader, but it’s been close to fifteen years since yer last tradin’ run. Why startup again now? And why this far south? Ain’t nothin’ out there till you pass Ponyville.”

He cocked an eyebrow, and I had nothing to hide. I cleaned and wrote on the chalkboard my reply: “I’m going to Ponyville, I have business there… business left unattended for two hundred and thirty five years…

We looked at each other, a mutual understanding between us. He let me stay the night in his spare bedroom, and by the morning he’d left before I woke up. I noticed as I looked around after getting up that many of his belongings were gone, even that photo of the ‘mist walker’ pony that had him spooked. I came over to a table by the front door, and saw that he had left the keys behind with a note.

Look after the keys till you find me back in J.T. ~ Calamity.

I chuckled, same old Calamity. I took the key and locked up the place before descending the stairs down to the street and my cart. While the perma-cloud made it difficult to see the sun, or the sky, I could tell it was still the wee hours. The light of dawn was eeking out from over the wall, casting a pink color into the blue morning sky and a pink light on the tiled road.

I admired it for a moment and turned to tend to my cart, oblivious to the shape behind me. It stretched its wings and let out a soft yawn-like screech. I quickly turned startled by the sound and saw a Stratadon standing where that business pony had been gunned down. It didn’t do anything but stare with its narrow, owl-like eyes. It was green skinned, with an owl-like beak.

With one soft bird-like screech, it took wing toward the Perma-cloud above. I sighed out loud to myself in admiration, remarking in my mind how beautiful the Stratadons looked up close.

Today’s the day. But… Why am I so tired?

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

It’s right there mommy… you’ve almost made it.” Her voice rang out as clear as day and roused me from sleep.

I had walked a full day, and Ponyville was only a few more steps away, I could see it. I could see the town hall, and the stump of the Golden Oak Library. But I also saw the fences that barred anypony from going forward, and the shapes of Hellhounds, unforgiving. I tuned in to DJ Pon3’s channel, only to get static.

I sighed and yawned and ached. After four days of walking I ached and felt tired, but most of all, I was sad. I looked out toward Ponyville, I saw Paradores and Bloat Sprites out in the wasteland. I saw Tanks, large and Rhino-sized, tusked tortoises grazing in a green field on my way here, and I saw buried in the dirt and overgrown with vines, a brain-bot. I saw the world again as I did in my youth, before it was that awful, awful black world!

I held her photo in my hooves protected by its wooden frame, and I looked down at it. In a few moments, I would be there, back in Ponyville… But why? After a nights rest in a comfortable home, why was I tired?! I put the picture away in one of the cart’s side saddles and as it neared sundown, continued onward until I saw a large tower, the sanctuary gates, and the shapes of ponies.

Followers of the Apocalypse, NCR troopers, Applejack’s Rangers, and lastly… Fluttershy. I was happy to see her there, a familiar face, a friendly face. I was slow in my strides at this time, and weak, I didn’t think about why anymore, neither I did I care. My goal was almost in reach, all I needed to do was get there.

“Unidentified target approaching!” One of the NCR troopers announced, bringing the attention of the Applejack’s Rangers. The trooper looked toward me through his rifle scope, only to lower it. “Ghoul, unarmed. Looks like a trader.”

“Compass reads it as non-hostile,” one of the Applejack’s Rangers said to the group.

“Ditzy?” I heard Fluttershy say my name, and I acknowledged with a smile.

I got closer, and as Fluttershy came to greet me, she was forced to a stop by one of the Rangers.

“Please let me go. She’s my friend.” Fluttershy looked into the visor of the Ranger who shook his head.

“She isn’t safe, Lady Fluttershy,” said a young mare in Followers attire, Amarant Star. She carried with her a geiger counter which when aimed toward me ticked loud enough that a Hellhound came by the inner fence to see what the commotion was about.

Fluttershy’s joy to see me turned to concern and I understood why.

“Look at her, the whites of her eyes have yellowed and her body is practically seeping radiation.” The follower stepped away as Fluttershy stood forward without any regard for her safety.

“Ditzy… You know better then to let it go on like this,” she frowned.

I nodded knowingly. I suppose drinking irradiated water and passing by multiple radioactive spots wasn’t the best idea. Then again, I’ve hardly done a sonic rad-boom in a while. I could release it without the need of a rad-boom, thirty five years since my first rad-boom I’ve picked up a few dispelling methods, but if I did it, then the plant-life would be affected all over again, and if I used my new Nuclear Pulse, the E.M.P effect would cause more harm than good, and even worse; the spray.

“Ms. Doo, I suggest you dispense with the excess radiation before coming any closer.” A Ranger suggested.

If I kept in the radiation I’d be poisoning everything, and everypony around me. This new way to dispel the rads without a sonic rad-boom was safer, but the large splash effect meddled with technology, in addition; it paralyzed or heavily irradiated nearby ponies.

I unhooked the harness around my waist and removed my cloak, setting it aside and exposing my body which made me look skinny and yucky, especially with the exposed areas of muscle on my legs and flank, and a nearly hairless tail. For the safety of the the outpost, I wrote on one of my boards, warning them to stay back as I walked out and away from the safe zone, without looking back.

My feeling weak was probably brought on by the effects the radiation had on my head, eating away at my intelligence, but I won’t let it! At a decent distance away, the sanctuary still in sight, I stood straight and closed my eyes as my body started to glow green and yellow with radiation.

I mustered as much strength as I was allowed. In a burst of nuclear light and a small wave much like a rad-boom, I had performed my Nuclear Pulse.

I fell to my side in exhaustion, only to feel wet as I had fallen into a puddle of my own radioactive waste, a taint pool. I got myself up and hurried away from it, watching carefully as it bubbled and sizzled like a hot bath. As for the plants that grew nearby? They died once more, I haven’t done any form of dispersal since my last trading run fifteen years ago, and yet it left my mind to wonder how I could’ve become so toxic in an environment free of radiation.

I felt my strength returning and the urge to sleep was all but non-existent, although, just by being close to Ponyville once more, I felt wave upon wave of sadness. I reclaimed my cloak and gave Fluttershy a hug the instant she was in reach.

Fluttershy let out a happy sigh, and looked me in the eyes when we freed one another. “You’ve come a long way to trade, my dear old friend.”

I didn’t exactly come to trade, Fluttershy,” I wrote. “I need to get into Ponyville.

Fluttershy, Amarant Star, the troopers and Rangers; all paused to look at me as if I was insane, at least it wasn’t for the eyes. To break this silence, I wrote something new, and presented it with a smile. “You might want to check your electronics, my nuclear pulses have an EMP effect.

“What?!” Amarant Star broke her stare and ran into the outpost’s control tower, likely concerned for the perimeter fence.

The troopers and Aj’s Rangers checked their electronics as well, while Fluttershy continued to look puzzled as if I was insane.

“Ditzy… I know the Hellhounds are “friendlier” now than before. But we put up the fences for a reason. Even though I don’t like to keep them in a prison like this…”

I immediately turned away from Fluttershy and feverishly searched through my cart for the picture, and when I found it I presented it to her. She took it gingerly with her hoof, using her wings to support it carefully, and she understood in an instant.

She looked down at me as I was scribbling down two words and a picture, I turned it to her and it said: “Oak Tree.” And beside it was a crudely drawn depiction of a tree, and it was inside the fence. I’d seen the map, I know this fence stretched even slightly beyond the town border; stopping at the edge of the Everfree, and I knew that oak tree was in there, waiting.

“Lady. Fluttershy, I wouldn’t recommend allowing passage into the Sanctuary, the Hellhounds are far more docile and some of them timid more than they were thirty five years ago... but they are still a very real threat,” the Ranger advised.

I wasn’t going to argue with them if this was their decision, but I stayed in place and watched them alone with dust picked up by the breeze running cool in the remains of my mane and blowing my tattered cloak, of which a piece tore away at my hooves.

Just then, I saw the signs of hesitation and decline in Fluttershy’s eyes. It was faint, weaker than a rotten log after two centuries of rain, yet it was so strong in the eyes of the NCR troopers whom stood with battle saddle at their sides. If I could not enter Ponyville, I will go to Littlehorn, a thirty day walk south through uncontrolled territory, to what has for two hundred and thirty five years been terra nullius.

After a few moments of silence and thought, Fluttershy walked up to me slowly and gave back the photo. I looked her once more in the eyes, and saw her kind hearted smile, and her element burning as brightly as the stars on a clear night.

“Give me a moment,” she said as she turned away and took wing, flying over the fences and into the sanctuary. Every Hellhound gathered near the gate turned around and followed, they too disappearing out of sight.

In the meantime I watched the sun; it would be dark soon. Amarant Star looked out from the balcony beneath the tower out into Ponyville, she was worried, and fiercely so. Then half an hour later came howling, five voices, deep like a war horn rang out, and Fluttershy came back.

“The Hellhounds have agreed to leave you be while you’re in there,” she said as she landed.

“You talked to the Pack Masters and got them to agree on something?” An astonished Ranger asked.

Fluttershy chuckled to herself. “Even Hellhounds have a degree of sympathy, or at least an understanding of honoring the deceased since coming here. I told them that life is precious, and for that reason a pony shouldn’t be harmed when it comes to remembering them, especially in their territory.”

Fluttershy turned to look up at Amarant Star and nodded. “Open the gates.”

I smiled. I’d shed tears if I still could so I thanked her with hug, resting my chin across the back of her neck. The onlooking Rangers and Troopers looked uncomfortable seeing a pony hug a ghoul. It was admittedly funny to see their reactions. Soon there was a loud ringing from the bell, and an alarm sounded. The gates opened and as a precaution, the Applejack’s Rangers armed themselves and insisted on accompanying me inside.

I removed the side saddles from the cart after removing a few other things and placing some others inside, and with help from Fluttershy I donned them. My gosh they were heavy, then again I wasn’t as strong as I once was. I passed the Rangers on my way in, pausing only to decline their offer before continuing.

Back on my cart, I had left a message on one of my chalkboards, for Fluttershy. “We miss your smile and care in Junction Town, and I can see the dark under your eyes. Come home and rest, friend. Not for Velvet’s sake, but for yours. We miss you

I left a heart on it. While again, the Rangers insisted they follow, I denied them once more and continued on, leaving behind my chalkboards and staring ahead, even as the alarm sounded and the gates closed.

~~~ ~~~ ~~~

The first place I went to after the holocaust began, was Ponyville. And today, I bare with me the horror of what I saw. It was painful to think about it, let alone write about it. Everypony was either hysterical, screaming, or cursing. Ending their lives... beating their hooves against the doors of a Stable and passing away in droves, until I was left. Nopony in this town changed like I did, but it changed me.

I’m still me, ditzy, clutzy. I make all kinds of silly goofs and oopsies even in my maturity, that comes with the derp and the cutie mark! I’m naturally me! But my experiences still left an impression that haunts me sometimes. I’ve made sure not to let it get to me very much.

This place… While I stare out at the ruins of town hall, collapsed, and rotten with age, the feeling of melancholy is fleeting. Ultimately, to be back here, the first place I stepped into after Cloudsdale was wiped away, I felt hollow. But it would hit me, and I wouldn’t realize it, I didn’t feel hollow after all. Instead, I felt indescribable, heart aching sadness.

Just years ago I was fine being here, but now it’s just painful. Hellhounds watched from makeshift or surprisingly repaired houses, I heard their growls and the whimper of pups as I navigated the maze, and passed by the old library that set everything in motion.

Then it came again, the smell of fire from a few days earlier, it was… bale-fire? I turned around slightly to see the green glow and familiar shape of, Pyrelight. She was perched on an old mailbox, looking at me with watchful eyes. She spread out her wings and let out a loud melodious cry. Velvet must’ve sent her to keep an eye on me. Hmhm… I wonder if she was the one that made me so heavily irradiated when I arrived.

I didn’t mind, I was happy that Velvet worried about me so much, and I was happy to see Pyrelight.

My trek through the town took me to the old schoolhouse, which to my shock had been fully repaired. I wondered if the Hellhounds were gradually repairing Ponyville, and if so what for? I suppose one day we might find out. Although I wondered, I didn’t stop to sight see. I passed the old building, treading on the mud covered fliers of Pinkie Pie’s Ministry of Morale, and beyond the town toward a lone hill that looked out and over the ruins.

I climbed it, I walked up toward the blackened, leafless oak tree and turned to see all of Ponyville, through the glare of the sunset. The breeze blew against my face, and I decided not to waste another moment.

I set down my saddlebags, and took two sticks of incense and the associated holder out, and I set them aside for a moment before finally taking out the picture. I noticed the roots of the tree bulged from out of the ground in a sort of vee shape. And just near one of the roots was a large rock I thought was perfect.

I risked harming the photo, but after a quick re-check, the book stated it was done with the picture free of the frame. So I removed it and leaned it against the propped up stone. Last came the incense, which gave off a sweet smelling aroma which I was told that when lit; would calm the mind, and relax the nerves, or something like that.

As I sat under the old oak tree… I closed my eyes and remembered my dream back in Gildacross. Again, I sat with the filly and Sparkler, discussing happy times and the future.

I fiddled with the muffin between my hooves, ears lowering while those two carried on as if I was happy and normal. But it was a dream, how could I be happy in a dream when the memory hurts more than the physical pains I endured? Why…

Why…?

Why was this world… once beautiful and at peace, held in deep comfort with light and happiness… turn to dark, gloom and corruption… to rot and sorrow?

I remember... some of the things I delivered in the mail after Littlehorn, were suggestive and terrible, disgusting and vile. I delivered corruption in bottles and boxes, I… I was just doing my job, I… I…

My life ended when she was gone…

Before my eyes, I felt the loss of my tongue once again, and I saw the green fires and mushroom clouds on the horizon, the sky gray with a blood red sunset. The picnic sheet was in ruin and the filly, and the unicorn mare beside her were gone, I was alone again… and I heard her voice, and the gunfire and I cried out as she screamed in terror!

I cried out as I looked on at the pink cloud that turned Littlehorn into a ghost town, and I screamed as hoarse and with blood in my throat and tears in my eyes for her name and she was gone!

I never saw her again… and I cried every night holding the dolly she slept with to my chest. I felt my heart break and my dream had become little more than a memory, relieving itself in my sleep. And as I laid in that bed all over again, I felt my heart wrenching in my chest with the pain of knives thrust into my skin. I was looked on in pity for my eyes, not for my loss… nopony cared for my loss. It was always the war, and when I’d talk to somepony about it they would say she was only just another casualty… only just... My heart… even two hundred and thirty five years later is shattered...!

… She was gone…

My little one… my little pony… was gone, and I struggled with that, right up to end of the world I barely recognised anymore…

She was gone and I was here… she was gone, and I could never see her again….

Even today… now that I’m here... the pain is still there, hurting me… My life after day one… all of the abuse, the suffering and pain I suffered since then couldn’t hold a candle to the pain of losing her…

One could set alight my already damaged skin, and even then the pain would be but a feather to the sword of heartbreak and agony I felt when I lost my little muffin…

There is nothing in Equestria, then or now that hurt me more than losing her that day… and one day I’m going to lose her again… Silver Bell is as dear to me as she was, and already my heart ached.

I spent two hundred years without a picture, with a hazy memory that blinded me to her face and even now, even with this picture, ancient against the root of this old dead tree, I would soon be unable to see her as age faded the photo, and with it, the only surviving picture of, Dinky...

My throat ached, how I longed to shed tears once again, and let out all of the sorrow I’ve built up, only for it to stagnate and convert into my frustrations of an old world that died with hate in the hearts of everypony, and I assure you it was festering with it. We can’t always get what we want in life.

I stared at her photo, and I smiled brightly, even when my vocal cords stung at my attempt to speak uselessly.

Happy birthday, Dinky,” I smiled and sniffled. “If only I could hold you again…

Feathers from the wing

Drifting on the breeze.

Like little baby birds,

Taking flight that’s free.

Mother's little girl...

Come home back home soon…

My little girl…

Come back... to... me…

One last breeze blew right past me. But it was warm this time, and I felt as though she was right there at my side. I looked, only there was nopony. And as the breeze, warm and gentle passed on, I closed my eyes and smiled once more, knowing my Dinky, my beloved daughter of two hundred and thirty five years ago was at peace.

In Memory Of

Dinky…

From the Diary of Ditzy Doo.

Comments ( 15 )

I'm not really a fan of fallout equestria.

But i did take the time to read this.

Because ditzy.

+1

*sniffs* Wow... that was... powerful... poor Ditzy... good short fanfic.

Where are the napkins?

Well, here's the review I promised... dear Luna that was hard to do :fluttercry:.

Review

The clouds opened up, and from the gap in their gray blanket came the ray of dawn’s first light, cast over a rugged land of rock and sad puddles which radiated with the sins of the past, dying slowly as years had passed on. The stars’ reach extended through the ruined skyline of Manehatten, skeletal hulks of skyscrapers slowly collapsing while armed ponies patrol their forgotten heights, preying on the weak below and in the streets where other danger lurks in this place of desolation.

Holy Shit that's a beautiful paragraph

This is beautiful. I love it when I find these hidden gems that you can just.. experience, not just read. This is one that going to be hard to forget. Faved and this is going to get a special place on my recommended list...

Which I haven't even made yet.

Even though I've never read any of Fallout: Equestria, I have to admit, this was a beautifully written piece.

Hey there!

I am doing a clean up over at the Fallout Equestria groups at the moment and saw your story. To keep things consistant in the group would we like all of the stories to start with the classical "Fallout Equestria", so its easy for our readers to see that the story actually happens in the verse. Seeing the positive comments would it be sad to remove the story over such a little thing, so I was wondering if I could convince you to add it to the title so all things look nifty in our end.

9099271
Would it be acceptable if I were to instead re-title it: In Memory Of... A Fallout: Equestria Tale? I have no quarrels with re-titling it in the traditional manner, I feel that titling as I am asking would help to differentiate it from the bigger stories. If not, then there's no worries and I will be more than happy to re-title it as Fallout: Equestria - In Memory Of...

9099289
Ending it with Fallout Equestria is a good way of doing it as well. We do just need that FoE in there somewhere :scootangel:

9099290
Splendid. :yay: I have re-titled it, adding the Fallout: Equestria moniker to it. Thank you so much for letting me keep it mostly as is. :rainbowlaugh: :twilightsmile:

9099296
Hey why become an dictator like admin if you can't break the rules a little bit =P

9099300
By the way, you may add Fallout: Equestria - A Song of Angels to the list of discontinued Fallout: Equestria stories. I am no longer working on it and I refuse to mark it as cancelled.
https://www.fimfiction.net/story/287313/fallout-equestria-a-song-of-angels

9099309
When a story haven't been updated in over 2 years does it automaticly go into the "dead" pile. If I went looking for "hiatus" or "cancelled" would I hove stories around pretty often with how some writers change their tags more often that i change socks.

It is also already in the pile by the way

9099311
Ah, alright then. :twilightsmile: Sorry to trouble you.

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