Edited by uSea
CHAPTER 17: Karma
And the whole world has to answer right now just to tell you once again. WHO’S BAD?
DAY 13 - TIME approximately 6:45 P.M. - LOCATION: The Memorial northern picnic area, Big 52 S Branch
A mare and a stallion trotted along the Big 52, both carrying assault rifles. The mare was wearing heavy security barding, while her companion used a mix of various metal plates welded together into what seemed like a bad attempt at making a scene costume for the Unicorn of Oz school recital.
“I still don't understand why we can't stay in Tunnel Town. It's way more defensible than everything past the Sugartop-Yeow!”
Trigger Happy hit Jammed Gun on the head. “Sure, and leave two thirds of the Big 52 in the Herd's hooves! I can't believe you're that selfish or stupid!”
The stallion looked away. “I'm not selfish, I... I'm worried about you... I don't want you to risk your life like this.” A single glare from the mare had been enough to make Jamie stop talking for half a minute, but a pony in love is a stubborn pony. “We should at least stop for the night... the Memorial isn’t very far from here.”
“Alright, lazy hooves, you win! Geez, do you know that you are a royal pain?” Trigger Happy groaned. “Good Stuff said that the town was deserted, but I guess it will offer some better cover than a tent.”
The large monument to the equestrian fallen seemed to fade away with the evening light, disappearing right in front of the approaching ponies.
DAY 13 - TIME approximately 7:00 P.M. - LOCATION: The Memorial southern picnic area, Big 52 S Branch
As soon as the helmet was fully restored, a pink dot appeared in the middle of its display and began to blink. “System successfully rebooted. All functions restored. Diagnostic system is online. Subject 001: Puppysmiles. Female earth pony. Subject deceased, condition stable. All clear.”
Puppy slowly opened her eyes, still sleepy. First things first: she had to determine where she awoke. Aw, it wasn't a bad dream... The bare hills and the dead trees were still all around her; this wasn't the foal’s room. Sighing, the filly in yellow got up and tried aligning with the arrow on the compass, but something got her attention.
“Hey, Mister Voice, what's that?”
“Analyzing. Tank wreckage. Threat level: none.”
“Not the bullybot, silly voice!” Puppy sighed and trotted towards the object of her attention. “This blinking thing!”
“Analyzing. Shortwave portable communicator. Researching frequency. Decrypting code. New communication channel detected. Receiving call.”
“Yay! A phone call! Let me take it please please please! I love answering the phone!” Puppy cleared her voice. “A-hem! Hullo pretty pony, this is me, mom is not at home!”
A surprised and angry feminine voice came from the other side of the call. “And who the fuck are you? Where is Lucky Charm?”
Yay, guessing game! “Hi, I'm Puppysmiles! Who is Lucky Charm? I know a pony named Lucky Strike, is that okay?”
The communication was interrupted abruptly, leaving Puppy a little stumped. “Aw stoopid phone pranks! Oh well, don't get angry, or they will win the game...” Puppy shrugged and trotted away.
“Attention, incoming call. Opening communication.”
Without even giving Puppy the time to reply, the same voice from before started talking rapidly. “Okay listen up fuckers, I think this frequency isn’t safe anymore, but the boss is going to fuck me hard if you don't turn that fucking tank south and bring your fucked, drug filled asses back right now, got it Lucky? I’ll repeat that: tell Grey and Bleeding to take that tank back RIGHT NOW! This is the last time I’m asking politely!”
“Thee-hee, pretty pony says funny words!” Puppy giggled; if this was a phone prank, it was fun.
“What the- You again!? FUCK!” The communication closed for the second time.
Puppy tilted her head. “That was weird... maybe we should go away?”
“Affirmative. Primary objective is not in this location. Attention, incoming call. Opening communication.”
The same voice as before started talking again. “Lucky Charm, Lucky Charm, this is Pony Fort, come in!”
Puppy smiled. “Nope, but I hear you! Is it okay?”
The mysterious voice sighed, giving up. “Listen, kid... I have no idea who you are, but I am trying to find some ponies and your radio is causing interference; how are you broadcasting on this frequency, anyway? Where did you get the channel encryption code?”
“What? A code? I know it! It's Puppysmiles!” replied the filly.
“Damn kid, turn off your radio, I’m trying to get in contact with a bunch of worthless Dash-heads! Unless you have seen a tank roaming free in the wastelands, you are of no help at all.”
Puppy tapped her helmet, trying to focus. “A tank, uh? What does it look like?”
“Are... are you serious? It's big, rusty, has a turret with a big gun, and moves on tracks...” The voice paused for a moment, hesitating. “Have you seen it?”
Puppy looked at the still smoking carcass of the behemoth lying not far from her. “Ah, does it go bang and boom and toss exploding things?”
“Yep, that's it! So, have you seen it?”
“Uh-uh.” Puppy nodded. “But it was being a bully, so I hit it with my rock and it exploded.”
There was a long pause from the other side of the call before the mare replied with a dismissive tone. “Yeah, sure, now go and fuck yourself with a cactus.” The call was interrupted again.
Puppy shrugged, this new voice was being very odd; nonetheless, the filly had an arrow to follow and a lot of road to scoot, so she had no time for prank calls... Still, when was she going to have another chance to prank call a prank caller?
“Ah, Mister Voice, can you call Pony Fort, pretty please?”
“Affirmative. Opening connection.”
The female voice from before replied almost instantly. “Pony Fort here, I copy you, speak.”
“Ah... -giggle- I am looking for -giggle- Mister Ai Em... -giggle- Ai Em Stew Peed -giggle-” Puppy couldn't help but laugh; this was a prank she had seen once in the Foalsons and she had always always always wanted to try it out.
There was a long silence before Pony Fort replied. “Really? A prank call? Look, I'm going to find this Mister Stupid and then he'll come there and spank you so hard that your tail will be sticking out your forehead!”
Puppy gasped. “NO! No please I'm sorry! I... I... don't spank me! I'll behave!”
The mare laughed for a while before replying. “Too late, little prankster! Watch your sorry flank because he's already coming for you!”
The filly launched herself in a run through the hills, fleeing from the incoming spanker and disappearing behind a hill. Run Yellow Prankster, run!
DAY 13 - TIME approximately 7:30 P.M. - LOCATION: The Memorial northern picnic area, Big 52 S Branch
Not too low, not too high, and especially don't let your enthusiasm drive you, old pegasus...
Lonesome Pony was flying above the hills, looking for some landmark to navigate by, but past Broccoli the night had begun to fall, and now it was hard to see anything.
“Damn, I'll have to land for the night if I don't want to fly straight into some raider patrol.” Sighing, the pegasus landed on a barren hill and finally stretched his wings in relief. “Alright, let’s check where I am...”
The DJ had kept his PipBuck receiver tuned to Radio 52 on a very low volume the whole time, but when the music stopped and Good Stuff began talking, he stopped checking the map in order to listen to the news.
“Okay, my little ponies, this is Radio 52 and I am DJ Good Stuff... just... this time there's nothing good.”
The DJ sighed; she seemed on the verge of tears.
“Ironworks is no more. I received a communication minutes ago: the Herd opened a breach in the factory, and the surviving defenders retreated inside the city Stable. The Herd seems to have better weapons, better robots, better everything... approximately two hundred ponies, mostly foals and mares, are now separated from a blood craving horde of raiders by a Stable door.”
The DJ paused again for several seconds before continuing.
“I... I don't know what to say... the Hired Hooves are reinforcing the Rust Manor garrison and won't move a hoof, but if nopony does something, then all those ponies at Ironworks are doomed. They sent a last message desperately pleading for help, begging somepony to save at least their foals...”
Lonesome Pony sighed, shaking his head. “Goodie, this way you're helping nopony! I can't believe that the only thing you can do in a moment like this is whine like a foal! Ponies need a voice to guide them, not... not this!”
The pegasus turned his head north, hesitating. “Why I must do everything by myself?”
“Ah, sorry ponies, I'm not used to this and... well, I guess it's not my problems we are discussing here... but I think that things can still turn for the better; those ponies in Ironworks are alive and a Stable door is not that easy to open, so... think about this: next time it could be you. Thinking that you are safe just because you are elsewhere doesn't work at all, since the Big 52 is all the same place. If Ironworks dies, then Broccoli will die next, and Rust Manor... the Herd will be unstoppable if we let them take a running start.”
Lonesome raised an eyebrow and closed his wings, listening to the mare's voice. Good Stuff was becoming more and more confident, as if she finally found the thread of her speech and now she seemed to know where to take it.
“But if we stay together and face them before they become unstoppable, if we go to Ironworks and save the lives of those innocents... well, I think that we can still win. The only thing we need is to stick together and face the enemy as one. Lonesome Pony is already flying there; you just have to follow his example and show those mules their place!”
“Not bad... there's a lot of room for improvement, but at least she didn't tell them to run as far as possible...” The pegasus sighed in relief. “Alright, maybe I didn't make a mistake leaving her alone.”
“But I'm talking way too much. This is a radio and there should be music playing, so this is for you, Ironworks. Don't give up: somepony is coming! Hold on my little ponies! Just believe in each other... You gotta believe.”
If just one pony believes in you
deep enough and strong enough, believes in you
hard enough and long enough, before you knew it
somepony would think, if he can do it, I can do it
making it two
two whole ponies believe in you
Lonesome snickered, hearing the song. “Good choice... maybe a little childish, but it's foals we're trying to save... I just hope those mules will get it or this is going to be the shortest counterstrike ever.” The pony smiled a little and trotted away, toward the Memorial.
DAY 13 - TIME approximately 9:00 P.M. - LOCATION: Wastelands, Big 52 S Branch
The five raiders were a little bit stumped; not only was a foal not supposed to run at them asking for help, but ponies were supposed to die when you shot them repeatedly in the chest... Apparently nopony had informed this one.
“Oh please please please, hide me! He's coming and I has nowhere to run! Please please PLEASE!” Puppy stomped her hooves on the ground. “I said I was sorry, but he didn't care!”
A large earth pony stallion with a scar along his neck approached the foal, while the other four ponies kept their weapons pointed at her. “Who the fuck are you? What the fuck are you? Who the fuck is after you? And why the fuck are you still alive!?” The pony noticed that the holes in the foal's suit were already disappearing and that she hadn't shown the slightest sign of being in pain. Alright, maybe listening to what this creepy foal had to say was a good idea, after all.
“Ah, I am-” Puppy stopped abruptly; what if one of these ponies was Mister Stoopid? She had to play smart. “I am... uh... a ghost! Yush, I totally am the Ghost the voice in the radio always talks about... and... ah... my name is absolutely not Puppysmiles.” From the look the ponies gave her, Puppy felt she had to add something. “Ah, nopony here is called Mister Stoopid, right?”
The stallion nodded, slowly... pink gleaming eyes, a yellow containment suit, ignoring gunshots... Yes, that matched with what he heard about the Ghost pretty well. “So... you are the Ghost of the Big 52.”
“Yup.” Puppy nodded. Now that her master skill at lying was being tested, she had to be strong; she had to be firm... she had to be smart. Show your best poker face, Puppy!
“And your name is... Not Puppysmiles?”
“Right.” It was working! They were falling for it! Cunning Puppy, master of deceiving!
“The Ghost of the Big 52... sentry bot killer and town rescuer? That ghost?” The other ponies behind the leader took a step back; they seemed afraid of her.
“Yes I am!” Puppy nodded vigorously.
“And you want help from us...” The stallion seemed a bit confused; go figure...
“Yush! Well, that is if nopony's name here is Mister Stoopid.”
“I... no, my name is Slash Blade, the unicorn there is Collateral Damage and his bitch is Paper Cut. Then we have Stinky Tail and Plastic Flower...” The stallion pointed at the last two mares in the group while speaking their names; besides Collateral Damage and Paper Cut, all the others were earth ponies.
Puppysmiles sighed in relief. “Wew, that was close! Listen up, there's this mad pony following me; he's super angry because I made a prank call to him and nao he wants to spank me! Can I... ah... hang with you for a bit? So you can tell him I'm a nice pony and he'll go away... Puppy please?”
Blade looked back at his companions; the other stallion shrugged, while the three mares didn't seem eager to help. “Are... are you really fleeing from a pony because you played a prank on him and now he wants to spank you?” This was getting weird.
The filly nodded.
The raider raised an eyebrow. “Are you retarded?”
“Ah, mmmaybe? Will you help me if I say I am?”
The stallion sighed again; he was sighing a lot, lately. “You’re going to follow us anyway, aren't you?”
Puppy nodded again, smiling.
DAY 13 - TIME approximately 10:00 P.M. - LOCATION: The Memorial, Big 52 S Branch
Mister White smiled as he floated the canteen back into his saddlebags. “So, you ditched the radio and flew all the way here because of a pony you haven't even met?” The unicorn snickered.
“Sort of... I had a feeling that the wind was changing and... Well, I just wanted to be there when it happened. Actually, I was surprised to find you here...” replied Lonesome, looking at the group of ponies in the shack.
So far there was a farseer from the Sand Sweepers, the Security head mare of Tunnel Town with her.. henchpony? Coltfriend? Doesn't matter... The most infamous grave robber in all of Equestria and Mister White with his nephew.
“So, what's the big plan?” The pegasus looked out into the night, waiting for a reply that came from the farseer.
“We are still waiting for friends. Tomorrow we act. Now the fire is burning too brightly; we need to wait for the flame to flicker and then make our move.” Long Ears closed her eyes, breathing deeply.
“Look, I don't care very much about all these prophecy thing...” interrupted Trigger Happy. “I just want to know if Puppy is alright. Can you tell me that, you Mint-als sink?”
The unicorn mare opened her eyes, shrugging. “And how am I supposed to know that? The visions come at me, not the other way.”
Happy didn't reply. Instead she turned her attention to the ghoul sitting in the corner. Molten Gold hadn't spit out a single word since she and Jamie arrived in town, but he seemed troubled. “So, old mummy... you should come north more often...” The mare tried smiling at the treasure hunter; she didn't like him, but he hadn’t actually done anything to deserve her mistrust. Yet, at least. “I’m curious, what did that filly do for you?”
The ghoul slowly turned his head toward the guard chief. “It's not a matter of what she did for me... it's what I didn't do for her.” Molten snickered; it was a raspy and unsettling sound. “For the first time in two centuries I feel guilty. Can you believe that?”
Sage Brush sighed; this seemed to be the ‘tell your story’ moment of their ‘oh-so-pretty’ slumber party. “Spit it out. Most of us will be dead before this little adventure ends anyway... it's not like your secret is going anywhere.” The sniper chuckled before continuing. “Then we should tell each other creepy tales and have a pillow fight. Isn't it a great idea?”
Mister White facehoofed. “Sage... please, shut up.”
The ghoul shrugged. “It's not a real story anyway. I just happen to have known Puppy's mother, Rainy Days.” Molten Gold was speaking slowly, with a distant voice. “She was some sort of local hero... nothing special, but in those days when everypony was scared and confused, she had the resolve to organize a refugee camp and helped a lot of ponies.” Shaking his head, the grave robber corrected himself. “Well, mostly she showed other ponies how to help themselves, then moved on the next town and did the same thing from the scraps... teaching ponies how to survive.”
Jamie interrupted the ghoul. “Wait a single fucking second... You knew Puppy's mom and then you met Puppy... What did you tell her?”
Molten Gold looked straight into the guard’s eyes. “And what could I tell her? ‘Sorry but your mom is dead?’ Have you looked her in the eyes? I sent her to Ivory Tower, hoping that the rangers would find a way to...” The ghoul hesitated, turning his head away. “To help her.”
Nopony replied for a moment, not until Trigger Happy realized the meaning of Molten's words. “Hey, but Ivory Tower was completely destroyed! You sent the foal there!?” The mare retrieved her combat rifle. “You fucking son of a b-”
Jamie and Lonesome Pony jumped on Trigger Happy, immobilizing her. “Woah, Happy, calm down! She was sighted in Broccoli, remember? She's fine!”
Molten sighed, shaking his head. “Well yes, she should be fine... The funny thing is that even most of the ponies living in Ivory Tower are fine... they just lost their playground.” The ghoul smiled. “I wouldn't be surprised if somepony told me that the filly did that.”
Lonesome Pony let Happy go and got himself back on his hooves. “The two slaves she freed told me that she was like a ghost; bullets passed through her as if she wasn't even real, and her gleaming pink eyes turned the slavers against each other.” The pegasus weighed his next words carefully before speaking. “Do you believe in ghosts?”
“Oh please!” snapped Trigger Happy. “Don't even get me started on that! This idiot,” She pointed at Jammed, “Has asked that ever since Puppy arrived in Tunnel Town... Okay, the foal is not a common pony and I'm not sure she is even a ghoul, but I hugged her and she is more than solid.”
White looked outside the window. “I think we should speculate a little less and keep an eye on the outside a little more; there are several ponies approaching from the north.”
All the eyes in the room turned toward Long Ears, waiting for a response; the farseer smiled when she got up and walked to the door. “They arrived early... Very well, let's go and meet these famed Applejack’s Rangers.”
DAY 13 - TIME approximately 10:30 P.M. - LOCATION: Wastelands, Big 52 S Branch
A small fire burned in the middle of the haphazard camp; the two earth pony mares were cooking some canned food while the other cleaned guns. Every pony tried to ignore Puppy.
Stinky Tail was chatting with Collateral Damage, ignoring the glares of jealousy from Paper Cut. “So, do you think they already opened the Stable?”
The unicorn shrugged, keeping his eyes on the firing mechanism of his weapon. “It’s just a matter of time... Those fat bastards won’t find mercy after making us starve for years...” Collateral spat in the fire. “We lost seven last season because of dirty fucking water. I just hope I’m there when when we get in.”
Plastic Flower snickered. “Those fuckers have all the good land and they’ve hoarded all the good stuff from this shit hole... Well, not anymore! This time we win!”
Slash Blade nodded thoughtfully. “And we’ll make sure that they won’t come back. Ever. Ironworks, Rust Manor, Salt Cube... Everything will burn.”
Puppy wasn’t really listening to the ponies, being more interested in the way they worked around their weapons... It seemed plain stoopid; there were better ways to clean something. “So, that is how you keep clean your noisy thing? Why don't you wash it? It's easier...”
Along the trail Puppy had been a constant pain, an endless torrent of words; the raiders tried scolding her and shooting her, but nothing seemed to work; she simply kept chatting and chatting and blah blah blah. The only thing that worked to keep the filly at bay had been the threat of spanking, but nopony was really willing to get physical on a thing that ignored bullet holes in her chest... Besides, the pink gas that poured from those holes seemed dangerous... and even more creepy, it seemed alive.
“The gun needs to be oiled, unless you want it to jam and explode in your mouth,” Paper Cut explained. “Didn't you ever fix anything?”
“Sure! I fix a lot of things! I'm best fixer ever!”
“Fix things? Like what, brains?” The unicorn mare laughed.
“Nope, I fixed a radio, then another radio and then... ah... a big screen, and I made my voice friends working again and they were super happy. Ah... I'm a voice fixer, I guess?”
Paper interrupted her work, now staring at the foal. “You... you can fix electronics? Really?”
It was now or never: Puppy wanted to impress these pretty ponies so that they would be her friends, and maybe they were going to help her if Mister Stoopid came to spank her... and then maybe they were going to help her find mom, too! “Sure! I can fix anything!”
The unicorn floated a radio receiver in front of Puppy. “Prove it; this radio stopped working this afternoon; since then we have been cut off from our base... Repair it and you'll officially be a member of the Wild Herd.”
The filly in yellow looked at the radio and giggled. “Ah! Last time it was a whole room filled with these things! Easy peasy!”
WACK! WACK! WACK!
Puppy struck the ground with the radio until it cracked open, then she gave a long look inside it before nodding knowingly. “Yeah, sure, it's really easy: it's broken.”
The unicorn facehoofed and moved toward the foal to retrieve her now even-more-broken-than-before radio, but Puppy wasn't finished.
“Nao all I need is to put some pretty stuff inside it...” Puppy grabbed an energy cell and stuffed it into the poor radio, then hit it again a couple times for good measure. Cracking and fizzling, the communicator came back to life.
The mare grabbed the radio from the foal's hooves and activated it. “What the... you... you fixed it!” She immediately tried contacting the base. “Red Roach standing by. Come in Pony Fort, over... Red Roach standing by. Come in Pony Fort, over... oh, c’mon!”
All the raiders stopped their activities for a moment, listening to the mare talking in the radio and waiting for a reply.
The communicator crackled and spat sparks from its new battery, and with sparks came words. “This is Pony Fort, where the fuck have you been, Red Roach? We were already going to sell your stuff away!”
While the conversation between Paper Cut and the raider base continued, the other ponies celebrated by shooting into the air and hitting each other on the back. Puppy giggled a bit, looking at the weird scene until Slash Blade approached her, patting the foal on the helmet.
“Well done, little one! Who knew that you were such an electronic genius? We completely underestimated you. Welcome to the Herd.” The raider was going to say something more, but his attention was caught by Paper Cut’s expression when the mare closed the communication.
“Grey Matter didn't return with the tank... The boss wants us to head back to Ironworks as soon as possible.”
Plastic Flower shook her head. “Those idiots ran away with the tank... I told the boss not to give them too much firepower. Those fuckers have never given a fuck about the Herd; they only wanted to set the Big 52 on fire.”
“Aw, who cares?” added Stinky Tail. “We got other tanks, and the robots, we are unstoppable this time!”
Collateral approached Puppy, putting a hoof on her back. “So, little ghost, are you ready to see our base?”
“Ah... I don't know... I should go looking for my mom... she's somewhere in that direction...” Puppy pointed south.
“That's fantastic! It's exactly where we are going!” Slash patted the foal on the helmet again. Everypony here was a patting pony... Puppy could live with that as long as they didn’t spank her.
The raider leader continued. “Okay my dirty ponies, we don't sleep tonight. We'll have to trot all night long if we want to reach Ironworks before morning's light.”
DAY 13 - TIME approximately 11:00 P.M. - LOCATION: The Memorial, Big 52 S Branch
Scold sipped his tea, looking at the lights in the other houses; with a deep sigh, he turned on his tail and looked at the other ponies in the room. “Very well, so we have a DJ, a ghoul, a merchant, a drug addict and three guards?” The old scribe shook his head. “I was expecting something more from the Big 52... at least from the Hired Hooves.”
Cold Shower shrugged. Without her armor she was quite small, even for a mare. “I don't care; we have our own troops; these ponies are just some more firepower I didn't even expect to get.”
“Well, they are also the ponies that we Applejack's Rangers are trying to protect, aren't they?”
The paladin frowned, dismissing the scribe’s words. “Actually, I don't see any helpless foals in this place... For all I know, they’re just volunteers fighting for their homeland. If they want to tag along I won't tell them to go away, but-” A knocking on the door interrupted their discussion. “Yes, come in.”
When the door opened, Mister White made his way into the room. “Good evening, Scribe Scold... Paladin Shower...” The unicorn paused, looking at the two for a second before continuing. “Is everything alright?”
Scold turned toward Mister White, studying him. “Oh, look, the leader of the most powerful tribe along the Big 52... May I ask why you only brought along one soldier?” The old unicorn paused. “Or are reinforcements on their way?”
White shook his head. “Nope. I’m not here as the head of the White Apples nor the Hired Hooves. This is a very personal affair; I’m paying back a debt while hunting for opportunities.”
Cold Shower muttered something that sounded a lot like ‘Fucking blood sucker,’ but if the stallion heard her he didn’t react.
Scold moved toward the white unicorn and raised his voice, trying to draw away as much attention as he could from the not-very-diplomatic mare. “A debt? Let me guess. The ghost?”
“Wow, your skills have improved since last we met, or does the elder scribe cape come with a ‘detect obvious’ spell?” Mister White snickered. “I’m just kidding, no offence meant... but everypony here seems to have been lured by that foal.”
“Indeed. It’s incredible how much a single reminder of what we were could move so many hearts. I would be a liar if I said that I’m here just for the Applejack’s Rangers oath. I want to be there when the foal reaches the end of the Route.” The old scribe smiled slightly. “But I don’t think you’re here to talk about ghosts, are you?”
Mister White laughed for a moment before replying. “Well, that was a reason, but there’s something else... I am a pony of many interests, after all. I wanted to know if there is a way we could help the Rangers in the upcoming battle...”
“Upcoming battle? That’s interesting; and if I may ask, what battle are you referring to?”
The leader of the Hired Hooves snickered. “Alright, let’s play your game: you’re going to hit the raiders while they’re still occupied with Ironworks’ Stable. That seemed pretty obvious to me, since it was what I would do.”
The old scribe nodded. “Yes, it’s pretty obvious, but I don’t think that we will get a better chance to strike unless we forfeit Broccoli, Rust Manor and Sun City.” Scold turned his head toward Cold Shower. “But I am the wrong pony to ask, if it comes to strategies... Paladin, do you have anyhing to say?”
The mare sighed, clearly annoyed by the fact that the scribe had involved her in the conversation. “I don't know what we'll find in Ironworks, but the plan is to break through the enemy lines and reach the Stable, secure the area and then evacuate the civilians. The more you can help, the better.”
White nodded, slowly. “I heard they have robots and armored carts. Maybe we should study a better plan than simply rushing in and getting surrounded and overwhelmed by their superior firepower?”
Scold rose a hoof. “No, wait, you are misunderstanding. The rangers will break through the lines; you'll wait outside, covering our retreat.”
“Oh, wonderful, a suicide plan where I am not in the suicide lot. I already love it.” Mister White put all the sarcasm he could in his voice. “And what will we do when this ‘they’ll never know what hit them’ plan utterly fails?”
The scribe shrugged. “Don’t worry, I've got a backup plan; the Rangers will deal with the Wild Herd, even if we have to bring down the sky...”
DAY 13 - TIME approximately 11:30 P.M. - LOCATION: The Memorial, Big 52 S Branch
Molten Gold was sitting outside the town's barricade, looking south while smoking a cigarette. He coughed badly, snickering by himself, when Trigger Happy arrived and sat on his left.
“So, you met her mom...” The mare's voice was distant, thoughtful.
The ghoul nodded. “Yup; she bucked me out of town when I tried to steal some Rad-X. I used a lot of it since I was scavenging irradiated zones.”
“Let me guess... You kept scavenging without the Rad-X?”
The ghoul snickered again; it was an unsettling sound, like the rattle of a dying pony. “Wow, you must be some sort of scholar... I blamed the bitch for doing this to me since, like, forever... But in the end I always knew it was my fault. Oh well, I'm still alive to tell the story, at least.”
The guard hesitated before asking the next question, but she had to know... she needed to know. “And Rainy Days? How is she?”
Molten tossed the cigarette away, letting some seconds pass before his reply. “She can't tell the story. I still think it's better that way. Heroes need to fade away at some point.”
“B-b-but... but Puppy... when she...”
The ghoul stomped a hoof on the cigarette, with anger. “I know! I had to tell her the truth when I met Puppy the first time, but... but... then what?” The old treasure hunter sighed. “It's the only thing that keeps her going... I don't know what that foal is, but she has some inner strength inside that can't be defined... She has a purpose and... and she makes me remember the days before the war.”
Trigger hesitated a moment before asking. “Before... the war?”
“Yes. When we believed that Celestia would never abandon us and that everypony was a good pony inside, everything seemed so green and beautiful, but we wanted more, and more, and more... I don't even know why.” The ghoul stared at the gigantic monument that stood as the focal point of the Memorial. “But she is still like that; Puppy didn't stop believing that there's something good in everypony. She was told that ponies are pretty and she believes it, even in front of this horror. I... I don't want to be the one that will crush her dreams.”
The security mare looked down, frowning. “Me neither. I... what will she find at the end of the road?”
Molten Gold looked south, in the distance. “A grave with a name, overlooking the ocean from a small hill. Emerald Shores hasn't changed very much since those days.”
Trigger Happy didn't seem to have anything to say.
“It's quite a nice place. You can hear the waves and feel the wind in your mane... if you close your eyes it’s like you can actually see old Equestria again,” offered the tomb raider.
“This isn’t helping.” The mare kept looking down at her hooves.
Molten Gold sighed. “Not at all...”
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 5:30 P.M. - LOCATION: Ironworks, Big 52 S Branch
Ironworks was burning. Once upon a time the place had been a gigantic industrial complex, with structures as tall as skyscrapers, filled with industrial machinery and busy ponies. Before the war the complex was a steel mill where iron and coal were used to produce tanks and weapons, but during the last months of the conflict most of the place had to stop working due to the lack of raw materials. Stable Tech had bought part of the structures and built under them a Stable, using much of the materials that were left inside the factories; it had been a job half done and was by far one of the least advanced Stables ever. This was probably the reason why it actually saved pony lives during the worst days after the apocalypse.
Nowadays Ironworks was a town built entirely inside the main factory complex. The whole place was a fortress, with thick walls and a lot of high positions from which snipers and heavy guns could strike at any approaching hostile. Over the years, the town flourished because of its almost endless stockpile of steel. Obviously, all those resources were a beacon for raiders and other groups that wanted to get rich quick, but Ironworks had always managed to repel their assaults.
Black pillars of smoke rose into the sky, being fed by the fires that consumed the buildings below. Immediately outside the complex there was a makeshift camp, mostly composed of weathered tents and surrounded with barbed wire. Puppy and her new friends were heading straight to that camp.
“Oh, don't worry, they won't bug you, because you are with us!” Collateral Damage patted the foal on the back to encourage her, but it seemed quite pointless, since Puppy was already smiling and waving at everypony in sight.
“Hi there!” The foal giggled. “Look at that mare, she has a super funny mane! Oh, look at that cutie mark! Cool!”
A unicorn mare with a yellow mane and red coat approached the group. “It’s about time, you slackers!”
“Oh, go fuck a goddess, Fort...” Slash turned toward Puppy. “She's Pony Fort, our radio operator... she's a bitch; don't listen to her whining or you'll become a bitch too.”
Puppy didn't know two thirds of the words that these funny ponies were saying, but they were fun, so she giggled anyway and trotted toward the new mare. “Hi, I'm Puppysmiles! I'm looking for my mom!”
The unicorn stopped abruptly, now staring at the little filly. “Did you say... Puppysmiles?”
Puppy nodded. “Yush!”
“And do you happen to have a radio?”
The foal nodded again, smiling proudly. “That's me! I'm cool I kno-woah! Hey, what are you doing!?”
The unicorn wrapped Puppy with her telekinesis and sat down, then put the foal across her legs and raised a hoof. “Very well, let's make this clear.”
The filly struggled for a moment, trying to break free, but all she could do was waving her hooves in the air. “Lemme go! Lemme goooo!”
And then, it began.
Puppy was wailing desperately, but the Red Roach team didn’t exactly run in her rescue; instead, the five ponies stared at the scene for the first few seconds, then one by one they started laughing. That seemingly immortal thing was being shown her place by a radio operator with a bad mood; hell, how in Equestria had they been afraid of that pipsqueak?
“I'm sorry I'm sorry please stop I'm sorry!” Puppy was crying like a foal, but the mare didn't seem to stop and simply kept spanking her with every word she spoke.
When at last the storm seemed to end, Pony Fort put down the filly and looked straight in her eyes. “Now. Will you make a prank call again?”
Puppy didn't say a word, she simply shook her head trying to look away.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you! Did you understand that? A radio is not a toy! Something very bad can happen if you keep a frequency occupied that should be used for emergency calls!”
Puppy was still sobbing, but found the strength to nod slightly.
Once the filly seemed to have learned today's lesson, Paper Cut stepped in and talked to Pony Fort. “Don't be too harsh with her... She kinda... fixed our radio, otherwise we would have stuck with the original plan and kept patrolling for another three days.” Paper patted Puppy on the helmet. “She's okay... she made a mistake and now she learned her lesson. Can we say that you two are even?”
Pony Fort snorted. “If she really learned something, then we are. Foals, what are they good for?”
“Now, now... give a hoof to each other and make peace... Puppy is officially Red Roach's mascot, so if you keep being mad at her we will be mad at you.”
The radio operator sighed and offered Puppy a hoof. “Alright, alright! I was done anyway...”
The filly in yellow slowly moved a hoof toward the unicorn, trying to stop sobbing. Fort grabbed Puppy's hoof and shook it. “Alright, now we are even. Welcome aboard. Oh, and you should take her to the boss.”
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 5:30 P.M. - LOCATION: The Memorial, Big 52 S Branch
Long Ears opened her eyes, waking up with a gasp and making Mister White jump in his bed.
“What the- What's going on, witch?” The stallion blinked a couple of times, looking for his gun.
The farseer sighed, looking south. “It's beginning. We need to move as soon as possible.”
Footnote: Level up! (16)
New perk added: Yellow Dash - Run Puppy, run! When wearing light or no armor, like (duh) a MK VI full environmental suit, you move 10% faster. Don’t rejoice, you got spanked all the same.
New Quest Perk added: Get Wild - you are now a member of the Wild Herd. Your standing with the Wild Herd is set to neutral.
This fanfiction is based on Fallout Equestria by Kkat; a familiarity with the source material may aid your understanding.
You can read Fallout Equestria by Kkat on Equestria Daily
If you enjoy Fallout Equestria Side Stories you will want to check the Fallout Equestria Side Stories post on Equestria Daily and the Fallout Equestria Side Stories thread on Ponychan
The Ponychan group is also a hatching ground that you can join if you want to share your experience, writing or comments with us.
Huge thanks to Damhoof, Easteu, Palaciowsk, artemievnorse and Anonsamurai for helping me both with the language and the eternal struggle of keeping the story on its rails ^_^