Fallout Equestria: Tales of Chicacolt
Chapter 10: Sunshine, Sunshine
Clap your hooves and do a little shake!
“I’ll never forget you.”
Those were the last words I’d said to him. I didn’t even know his name. All I knew was that he’d given his life to save mine. I was alive because of him.
I sighed and looked at my face in the mirror. That was years ago. I had been only five years old or so. I wasn’t sure. Time flew quickly. I was found and cared for by a group of ponies in the MMMM, in a settlement known as Theater. My foster parents were generous enough. Nothing like my real Mom. My foster parents hadn’t tried to sell me into a sex trade for drug money, not like Mom had done. I hated her. I hated the very thought of her. I’d hoped she’d died of the drugs, of the lifestyle, of everything she had chosen to do in her sad pathetic little life. It would be… poetic, considering that was now my life. My fosters had tried to steer me from that path, but I was still messed up inside thanks to Mom.
“Sunrise?” a voice said from behind me.
“Yeah, sugar?” I said, wiping my brow and sighing loudly.
“You’re on in five,” the stage pony said. “Got a nice crowd tonight. Horace is pleased.”
“Thanks, sugar. I’m ready,” I said, putting on a smile.
I stood and checked my dress. Everything was rightfully in its place and ready for the show. I nodded and said thanks to the stage pony as I left my dressing room and headed for backstage. I stood apprehensively off to the side as the stage as the announcer called my name out. With the brightest smile I could muster I stepped out on stage as the music began.
“I believe in you… I believe in your…”
The audience was wild as I stepped off stage. They always were. It was a good feeling. I could see Horace in the back, smiling wide. That old stallion was always happy when I performed. He paid top caps for me, but he knew he’d always make them back in drinks. I made my way to the bar amidst the crowd of admirers and sat down in front of him. Without saying a word he set down a glass of bubbly.
“You always know just what I want,” I said.
“Been doing this too long, of course I know what you want,” Horace said. “Did good, kid. Real good. Probably your best performance yet.”
“Thanks, Horace. I think you might be right. Definitely a big crowd here tonight,” I said with a wink. I downed the glass of bubbly, only to find it replaced with another. “Dear me, Horace. You tryin’ to get me drunk?”
“Nah. Just look like you could use it,” Horace said with a wink. “Try not to drink that one too quick now. I got other customers to tend to.”
I nodded, smiling as I took a small sip. I was looking forward to finishing up and heading back home to bed, but the adoring public… well, it needed to see me for me to get paid. It was all going to be worth it though. The rest of the caps I needed were going to be in my hooves tonight.
I turned and waved at the audience milling about the bar. Whistles, catcalls, and some very racy descriptions of my hindquarters were thrown about. I giggled profusely and smiled brightly. Had to look good for the crowd. I figured maybe I’d treat some dashing young stallion to my room to celebrate, let him rut me senseless for a little while. The fans always loved getting with a local celebrity.
I turned back to my drink and sighed. Only a few more days. Only a few more days.
“Seems all the stallions just love you, don’t they?” a female voice at the bar said from next to me.
“Yeah,” I said with a soft smile. “Can’t resist a pretty face after all.”
“I’m not sure they’re looking at your face,” the voice said.
I chuckled. “You’re probably right about that,” I said. “Can’t resist that either. When you’ve got it, flaunt it, I always say.”
“You… you’re very pretty, Sunny,” the voice said.
My eyes widened slightly as my gaze drifted to the mare sitting next to me. She was older, many years older than me, unicorn. White coat. There was something familiar about her. I couldn’t place a hoof on it. She sighed.
“What did you say?” I asked meekly.
“I… I said I think you’re pretty,” the mare said with a cough.
“Well… thanks, sugar. But my barn door only swings one way,” I said with a wink.
“That’s… not… oh this was too much. I’ve had too much to drink, that’s it,” the mare said. “Excuse me, I’ve gotta go, this was stupid.”
I blinked as the mare stood and started for the door of the bar. I looked over at Horace. Something inside of me told me I needed to follow her. Horace must have felt it too. He nodded and I jumped off the bar stool and trotted after. I stepped outside, the hustle and bustle of Theater having died down other than the stragglers leaving the bar. The mare trotted ahead of me at a faster pace as she turned down an alleyway.
“Wait!” I called out, stopping at the mouth of the alley.
“Why did you follow me?” the mare said. “I… I…”
“Who are you?” I asked. “Why would you say something so weird before running off? You’re not just a weird fan or some crazy mare who wants to get in my pants, so who are you?”
“So you did call me Sunny. Nobody calls me that, not even the studs I bed,” I said.
“I don’t want any trouble… please… it was stupid of me to come here after all this time… I just… I just wanted to see you…” the mare said with a sigh.
My heart pounded as I stepped closer down the alleyway until I was dead in front of her. I got my first good look at her in the low light of the alley. My eyes widened. I realized… I knew her. No, it couldn’t be her.
“No,” I said. “You are not here. You can’t be here.”
“Sunny… I’m… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have come, but I couldn’t take not knowing,” the mare said.
“You couldn’t take not knowing whether or not I’d survived your attempt to turn me into a sex slave?” I said coldly. My blood was boiling. “Your own daughter? For what, love? Drugs? Money? I still don’t know why.”
“I… I’m sorry…” the older mare said. “I never wanted to…”
“To do what, be a complete bitch of a mother? For the longest time, I hated you. I hated the very thought of you. But seeing you now? You’re pathetic. You even look pathetic. You wanted to come see for yourself what I am? I’m just like you. Hooked on the fast life of sex and alcohol. I love the attention from the studs,” I said angrily. “Looks like you got your wish, Mom. I’m just as fucked up as you are.”
The older mare stayed quiet, slumping to her haunches. She looked down at her hooves as I walked past. I started down the alleyway to head back to the bar. I was going to need a drink and a lot more than a simple rutting to get this off my mind. Perhaps a threesome? That sounded good.
“Wait… I…” the mare said.
I stopped cold in my tracks. “What is it? I don’t have all night,” I said.
“I… I fucked up too long ago. Rock Crusher… he made it sound like we’d be living some glamorous lifestyle. Get rid of that detective and you’d be back in a flash. I didn’t know what he wanted you for. I didn’t know it was for sex,” the mare said. “But… what I did to you… it was wrong, I see that now. I didn’t realize at the time how much I… I worried for so long after Rock Crusher died that I would never see you again, that maybe you’d died on the way to get help… or something else had happened to you.”
“You didn’t know? The Hellraisers make a living off profiting off sex and debauchery, and you didn’t know? You really are fucking delusional,” I said angrily, spinning around to face her. My nostrils flared. “What’d the detective have to do with it all then?”
“He… he killed my brother. Rock Crusher suggested using you as a means to get to him, but I never thought…” the mare said softly.
“He’s dead isn’t he?” I asked coldly.
The mare nodded. I closed my eyes and sighed. Somewhere deep down I knew that I would never see him again. If he had gotten free, he would have come looking for me. I growled under my breath.
“Just… just fucking go, alright? I didn’t want to see you, and I don’t want to see you. Now leave me the fuck alone.”
The mare shuffled to her hooves and nodded softly. She turned. I could see tears in her eyes as she did. I didn’t care. She’d fucking messed up good. She deserved to feel that pain. She deserved to be alone.
I sighed loudly as I watched her go. I turned and headed back to the bar. As I walked in, I tried my best to put back on my good old fashioned celebrity smile. I greeted my adoring public with kisses and winks, and fell back into the world I’d come to know.
My eyes shifted open, my nostrils taking in the thick stench of sex in the air as I rolled over in bed. The two stallions laying on either side of me were still asleep, snoring loudly. I didn’t even know their names. Well, maybe they’d said them, but I wasn’t really paying attention. All I’d cared about was the rutting. And it had felt good. It nearly had taken my mind off what had happened last night.
I shifted up and over the left side of the bed, taking care to not wake up the boys as I stepped onto the cold floor. My nether regions ached, the by-product of my nightly activities. I made my way to the vanity and lifted a glass of whiskey. I kept running it through in my mind. Why had she come last night? Why now? What was she even looking for? Validation? Some form of understanding?
No. She didn’t get that. I poured the whiskey down my throat and threw the glass across the room, shattering it. She didn’t get to be the good guy, the downtrodden mother who didn’t realize that she was selling her filly into slavery, she didn’t get to take the high road. I was the victim.
My glass tossing had stirred the two stallions in the bed. They both looked confused as to what was going on. I growled.
“Out. Now! Before I decide I want to cut your fucking balls off,” I shouted, picking up another glass off the vanity with my magic. It soared across the room, shattering on the headboard.
The two stallions jumped out of bed and without saying a word ran out. I picked up the bottle of whiskey and downed it in a few brief seconds, the fiery taste burning my throat as I dropped back onto the bed. I hated it. I wanted more, better things with my life.
Hours passed as I laid there before I finally had the strength to get up. I headed to my vanity and pulled on a nice outfit before opening my stash. There were just enough caps that I could go now if I wanted. After what happened last night… it was time. I walked around and gathered my things into my saddlebags.
I grabbed the caps and took one last look at the room I’d occupied. It was time to go. I walked down the stairs to Horace’s. It had always been a nicety of his to let me stay there, but I couldn’t stay any longer. I needed to go somewhere I could find a better life. Word had traveled fast that the New Canterlot Republic was accepting of all ponies. Things could be better. They would be better.
Horace was at the bar, cleaning it. I slinked past before he could see me. I hated having to do things this way, but if he knew (and he likely did) he would try to stop me if he saw me. And I’d let him. I wouldn’t even think twice. I couldn’t let that happen.
I stopped outside, breathing a sigh of relief. I walked normally throughout the settlement, as normally as possible. My thighs still hurt from the night before so I was a little stiff. Nothing a quick shot of booze wouldn’t cure. I grinned to myself as I focused on moving forward towards that little shot of whiskey. It was going to have to wait until I was on the caravan and out of this shithole.
The ponies of Theater didn’t seem to notice me. They never did during the day. One of the perks of my job was that out of the makeup and the glitz of the dresses… I looked fairly normal and nobody ever realized who I was.
“Are you sure this what you want to do, kid?” a voice asked from beside me.
My eyes rolled to the right and I nearly jumped. It was… it was him? The stallion who’d saved my life all those years ago. The detective. He stood next to me, plain as day. And yet, he wasn’t really there. He was… see-through.
“So that’s it. I’ve had way too much to drink,” I muttered to myself.
“Drinking, drugs, sex. You were meant for better things than this,” the detective said. “You and I both know that.”
I growled under my breath before ducking into a nearby alleyway. The detective followed, just sort of floating there. I spun around and stared at him.
“And what did you expect, huh? You left me to fend for myself. What else could I have done?! I had to survive. I did what I had to,” I said. “This place… the Wasteland… this city… it fucks you up. Spits you up and chews you the fuck out.”
“You could have chosen to be better,” the detective said. “And now you’re just running away from the real problem. You think you’re running to a better life, but you know as well as I do that old habits die hard.”
I looked down at my hooves and sighed loudly. “She came to visit me last night. My mother. She… she tried to…” I stuttered.
“She tried to make it right,” the detective said casually. “She chose a different path.”
“But… she… she knew! She had to!” I shouted, tears forming up in my eyes. I didn’t care now if people saw this and thought I was crazy or what happened next. “She fucking knew and she still did it! All because she cared about her silly fucking revenge than she did her own FUCKING DAUGHTER!”
I began to cry, sobbing uncontrollably as I slumped against the side of the alleyway. The detective didn’t move. Maybe I was right. Maybe I was crazy as all get out and this was my mind’s way of telling me. I didn’t know. I didn’t care. All I cared about was that he was right. I wasn’t going to be better. I wasn’t going to have a better life. I was what this city wanted me to be, a chewed up washed out mess of a pony who didn’t have anything positive to contribute to society. I was a whore, a slut who let herself be used by stallions, an alcoholic and an addict.
I was filth. And I felt it down to my very core.
“Sometimes kid… we gotta lose before we can see what really matters,” the detective said softly. “But you can fix things. You can be better.”
“I don’t… I don’t care about making things better with her,” I said through my tears. “She made me what I am today. I’m a fucking failure just like she is.”
“You can do better,” the detective said, his voice starting to fade. “You can be better.”
I looked up, noticing that he had disappeared. His words hung in the back of my mind. There was no going back. No being better. He was wrong. I couldn’t suddenly become a better pony after all that I’d done. There was no redemption. Not for me, and not for her.
“You uh… alright there, Miss?” a cautious voice said from the mouth of the alleyway.
I blinked. A chocolate colored stallion stood there, his eyes wide. I pushed myself to my hooves shakily before rushing past him. I didn’t say a word, and he didn’t try to stop me either. I wasn’t really sure where I was running but it was out of the settlement. I charged out the main doors and past the gate guards before they even had a clue what was going on.
Before long, I was alone. I was alone, and I was lost. I looked around at the buildings around me. I didn’t recognize anything. Perhaps this was for the best. I could come out into the Wasteland and die. Then maybe things would be for the better. Horace wouldn’t have a drunk, sex-craved foster daughter, and I wouldn’t be around to fuck everything up all the time.
I kept walking, not sure why. Most of the edges of the city had long been abandoned a long time ago. Only the Hellraisers controlled things out here now. I stopped at an intersection of an old shopping district. I felt numb. I couldn’t keep going. I didn’t even know what I was doing out here.
Darkness started to fall. I wasn’t sure then what I was going to do, but I knew I couldn’t keep sitting in the middle of the street. I stood finally and walked to the nearest abandoned outlet store. The place had long been looted of its goods, but at the very least I could sit out of the elements and try to think.
I became acutely aware of the fact that my body was so tired from all the running that I was falling asleep. I dreamed, unsure of what I was even dreaming.
I awoke in light, maybe hoping that I had died. Alas, I realized quickly as I moved to get up that I was still an abandoned outlet store, and whatever place you went to after you died probably wouldn’t look as shitty. I groaned, feeling pain in my entire body now. I wondered when the last time I’d eaten was. I found myself unable to really remember.
I started to move, stopping in my tracks as my gaze drifted out of the store and into the intersection. Something… something moved out there. Something big. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it was out there. A pile of rubble shifted and a creature stepped into the street. It had scales and claws, and what looked like the head of a lion. The name of the beast escaped me. All I seemed to care about at that moment was whether it had seen me or not. I moved to huddle behind a broken shelf.
“You look like you are in a bit of a pickle, kid,” the voice of the detective said.
I glanced over at him and yelped, clamping my hooves to my mouth before the sound could escape. I let go and glared at him. “You scared the shit out me!” I hissed under my breath.
“Sorry, kid. Didn’t mean to scare you. So what’s your plan to get out of this one?” the detective asked casually.
“I thought about just walking up to it and asking it to eat me,” I said aloud, looking down at my hooves. “Luna knows that would be the smart thing to do.”
“Still think you’re not worth it? You think you can just… run away from yourself? Sooner or later you’re gonna have to face the music, kid,” the detective said.
“Yes, because this is so much better talking to myself like I’m some sort of crazy fuck,” I said with a sigh. I peeked my head out from behind the shelf. “It looks like it’s gone anyways. Probably off somewhere to find something to eat.”
The detective had already disappeared. I sighed loudly, halting as I heard the growling. I peeked back out from the shelf, my eyes widening as the creature stood in the crevice of the store window, its yellow eyes scanning for me. I pulled back before it saw me, looking as best as I could for a way out. My eyes settled on a stairway headed up to the next floor of the building. It was my best bet.
I leaped out from my cover and darted for the stairway as fast as I could, not even daring to look back. The monster growled. I could hear it stomping its massive feet after me. I nearly worried I wouldn’t make it, but I managed to scramble up the stairs. There was a massive amount of debris, but I was able to squeeze through one of the cracks and out of harm’s way. I could hear the monster slam into it, snarling loudly as it tried to force its way through. I didn’t stop, I kept moving and ran the rest of the way up the stairs onto the second level.
The second floor of the store wasn’t much better off than the first, but it seemed as if nopony had bothered to try looting any part of this floor. Granted, none of the stuff looked like it was any good to wear. Cobwebs covered all of the clothes, and most of it looked like it was tattered and full of holes. I could hear the snarling from below and the sound of scraping. It wasn’t going to take long before the creature could break through the rubble and get to me.
I needed to get out of the building, but how without drawing the attention of that thing? My eyes scanned the room as fast as I could. My heart beat fast and hard, nearly leaping out of my chest. I couldn’t even think about my mother or anything else about my sad pathetic life… all I could think about was survival. I found a window at the far end of the floor that had been broken open. A fire escape sat directly on the other side. Carefully I stepped out onto the creaky metal, hoping that it would hold me as I tried to get down to ground level and hide somewhere else while the monster thought I was still upstairs. The metal creaked loudly and I nearly shrieked as part of it pulled away from the brick wall.
A snarling noise came from the floor beyond me. My eyes glued back towards the window, seeing the monstrous beast standing there. I frantically tried to crawl down the broken fire escape as the thing began to charge forward. It slammed into the crevice of the window as the fire escape fell free from the wall. I dropped down fast and hard, slamming into the ground, a piece of metal piercing upwards through my leg. I howled in pain. I groaned, trying to move, but my body wouldn’t let me.
I was surely going to die. I was going to die alone and unwanted. At least… at least I could see him again in the afterlife. The only ghost who seemed to care about a worthless pile of trash like me. If the blood loss from my leg didn’t kill me, the monster above would.
The monster however, appeared to be stuck, it’s massive head not able to pull itself back through the smaller window. It snarled and howled as it tried to free itself. I chuckled, spitting up a little blood.
“Hah, serves you right, fucker!” I called out before my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I passed out.
“Kid, wake up. You aren’t supposed to be dead yet. Too much you got left undone,” a voice whispered in my ear.
My eyes shot awake to the growling sound above me and the shouts of a pony across the street. It was dark. The creature above still hadn’t been able to get out of the window, a fact that it was making known to pretty much everything around it with its howling and snapping.
My eyes tried to focus on the pony as they ran up to the mess of rubble surrounding me. I glanced down at my leg and my eyes watered with tears. A massive piece of rebar had impaled my leg clean through. No wonder I couldn’t really move.
“Hold on, Sunny! I’m gonna get you out of there, just hold on!” the pony’s voice said. It was… female?
I nodded groggily, not able to do much else. I laid my head back briefly before the pony snapped.
“No! Don’t rest your head! You might have a concussion! Just say awake and stay focused on my voice, okay?” the pony said.
“O...Okay…” I said weakly.
The other pony’s head began to glow, and I felt unspeakable pain as the piece of rebar began to slip out of my wound. I felt myself being pulled out of the rubble and onto the ground. My leg screamed with pain. A soft glow enveloped me and I felt myself move weightlessly along. I wasn’t sure where we were going. Was this pony saving me?
“Please stay with me. I need to get that wound closed up and stable before I can give you anything,” the pony said. “We’re away from the manticore, now. It can’t follow us.”
“Who…” I said as I struggled to see the other pony.
“Shh… just lay still. I’m going to give you something to null the pain a little,” the other pony said.
I groaned softly as I felt a prick in my leg and suddenly my pain began to dull almost completely. The other pony slowly and deliberately wrapped my leg up as my vision began to adjust to the darkness. The other pony turned and smiled as I realized who it was.
“You,” I said. “What… what are you…?”
“I saw you leaving Theater. I thought maybe… I could follow you, talk to you,” my mother said softly. “Then I found you like this… and I knew I had to save you.”
I laid there for several long moments trying to think of how to respond. Before I could say anything the mare brought a vial to my lips and helped me drink it down. I could feel my strength returning slowly to my body as I was able to finally sit up.
“The potion might take a bit to work, so please don’t get up and go running off,” she said. “We still don’t know if you have a concussion or not, so you don’t want to overdo it.”
I glanced around briefly. I couldn’t tell where we were. Clearly we were in a room of sorts, but I didn’t recognize anything. “Where are we?” I asked.
“A safehouse for the MMMM,” my mother replied. “It was the closest place I could get you away from the manticore.”
“Manticore? Is that what that thing was?” I asked. “Fuck… that thing was stupid fast.”
“They’re very dangerous creatures. You should consider yourself lucky you were able to escape,” the other mare said.
I looked down at my leg, all bandaged up. “Maybe I should have not been that lucky,” I said softly. “Would have been fitting.”
My mother closed her eyes and sighed. “I felt the same way… once. I had let the drugs, the alcohol, the sex… I’d let it all have their way with me. I couldn’t stop myself. I let myself become tempted by the promise of more,” she said. “And that alone cost me more than I realized.”
“So… so what, you’re saying that you’re some goody two-hooves now? It doesn’t quite work like that in this city,” I retorted with a snort. “You can’t be good. Everything is a vice here.”
“Only if you let it be,” she said. “It took me a long time to realize that what I was doing was hurting me, and that was only after another pony put my face in it and made me see what I’d done to my life.”
“So is that what you’re doing here? Do you hope that you can push my face into my life and make me better somehow?” I asked angrily. “All to make yourself feel better about your life? Well, too bad. I already know I’m a pathetic pile of trash. I don’t need anypony to point that out.”
My mother sighed and looked down at her hooves. “No,” she said finally after several long moments. “I came after you because you’re my daughter. And that’s what mothers are supposed to do.”
“Then why didn’t you do what a mother is supposed to do back then, huh?” I said. I started to push myself to my hooves. “Fuck this shit. I’m out of here.”
“Wait, you can’t move yet!” she said.
“Watch me, you stupid bitch,” I said, getting up to all fours. I took one step and wobbled before feeling the jolt in my back leg. I tumbled to the ground and groaned.
“I told you, your wound isn’t totally healed yet. It’s going to take a little bit of time for the potion to work,” my mother said angrily.
I grumbled under my breath. “Fine,” I said with a glare. “How the fuck do you know so much about this anyways?”
“Because I work for the Followers of the Apocalypse now,” my mother said. She tugged on her coat, flashing a silver pin with the symbol of the Followers. “They trained me in medical care.”
“You’re a doctor?” I asked, eyes widening.
“Not really. More like a field nurse. They send us into potentially dangerous situations and we save ponies,” she said. “The Followers picked me up as a stray refugee on the outskirts of town when I was fleeing the Hellraisers. They protected me when I needed it the most, helped me get clean… and she helped me most of all.”
“Violet Iris. The so-called marefriend of the one and only Ministry Mare. She was in charge of the detachment that picked me up. She saw how bad my life had been,” she replied. “She’s the one who helped save me from myself. She… she’s the one who recommended I seek you out, after I told her about what had happened.”
“Did you leave out the part about how you were psychotic and killed a pony just trying to save me?” I asked.
“No… I told her everything about that. The detective, my brother, you… all of it,” she said. “Sunny… I’m not here because I want to make myself feel better about my life… I’m here because I wanted to get to know you, and I know that… that I could never be your mother really ever again, and that’s fine, but I just… I wanted to know you.”
I groaned as I moved to roll over enough to stare at her. When I did, I stopped for a second. Her eyes weren’t cold, they were warm and inviting. Her expression was dour and I found myself truly believing that she was sincere. I sighed.
“Look… I’m sorry… that I called you a stupid bitch. I didn’t mean that,” I said.
“Apology unnecessary,” she said with a soft smile. “If you don’t mind me asking, what were you doing out here in the first place?”
“I… I was running away. I’d been saving up the caps for some time… and thought maybe… maybe if I got down to Manehattan, to the NCR… I could be better. I wouldn’t need the sex, the drugs… the alcohol,” I said. “I could maybe do something with my life. But then I realized… the stuff I already have done… I’m… I’m fucked up.”
“You thought you could escape it, but you can’t escape the past,” my mother said. “Words once spoken to me by Violet. The past haunts us. We shouldn’t let it. We should face it and accept it.”
“What does that mean?” I asked softly.
“It means, you can be better, by facing the things you’ve done and the pony you’ve become,” she said. “You can choose the pony you want to be. Nopony else can take that away from you.”
I looked down at my hooves and grimaced. I’d certainly done some fucked up things. The things I thought I’d desired had ruled my life for a long time. I’d hurt ponies over them. I’d beaten up stallions over sex. I’d practically begged for drugs. I’d spent life in a drunken stupor, and I’d hated myself for it. I’d hated everything about my life and the way I’d chosen to leave it. And yet, here was the very reason for my hateful life, and I found that I couldn’t hate her. I couldn’t bring myself to it. Why was that? Why couldn’t I hate the pony responsible for who I was?
“Because she isn’t the pony responsible,” a gravelly voice said in my ear.
My eyes twitched as they drifted to the dead detective. It was clear that my mother couldn’t see him, or else she would have said something like “AHHH A FUCKING GHOST!” or some bullshit like that. No… he was my own crazy I was seeing. I looked down again. He wasn’t wrong. Mother wasn’t really responsible for me acting this way. I was. I was responsible for the things I’d done. I could hate the pony responsible, because I hated myself.
“You’re figuring out things really well, kid,” the detective said. “Now all you have to do is let go. Let go and begin again.”
I had let the city beat me. It had ground its teeth in me, gnashed me about, and spat me back up into some misshapen lump that was barely worth saving, and yet… the pony that I never expected to save me had come to me. The pony that I thought I’d hated, resented all these years… she had been the one to try. I had never tried. I’d ran. I’d ran from everything. From my fosters, from Horace, from everything. I’d run when there had always been somepony there that could help me.
My ears snapped to attention at a roar in the distance from outside the building. My mother stood and went to what appeared to be a slat in the wall. She lifted it up and looked outside. After several long moments she closed it. My eyes widened with a hint of fear.
“That manticore’s still out there, meaning we’re stuck here until morning at least. Probably for the best. If you were to try to outrun that thing now…” she said, trailing off as she saw my expression. “Sunny?”
“I… I’m sorry,” I said, looking down at my hooves. “I… I heard that thing and I…”
My mother sighed and sat next to me. “It’s alright to be scared of something like that. Manticores are pretty scary, after all. You’ve never had to deal with something like that,” she said. “The Wasteland… it’s still rough out there. Things are getting better, but there’s still areas that are very dangerous.”
I nodded mutely. I felt like I was a scared filly again, listening to her mother tell stories. I hated the feeling deep down, but at the same time… I had missed it. Small bits of memories floated back. My mother… caring for me. Before the drugs, before the booze, before Rock Crusher swept in and turned her into a hate-filled monster. She had been better, and the city had taken her for its own. And somehow… somehow she had pulled herself out of it.
“Sunny? You’re spacing out just a bit. You’re still with us, right?” she asked.
“Uh… yeah. Sorry. Just… just thinking,” I said, my eyes meeting the dead detective’s across the room. “Is it possible… that I’m… that I’m not well? Like… mentally?”
“Odd question. If you did have any brain damage from the fall, I’d think you wouldn’t be able to speak to me right now,” my mother pondered, placing a hoof to her chin. “Why do you ask?”
“I…. I keep seeing him,” I said. “The… the detective. He talks to me. I can’t tell if it’s real or not. All I know is that he keeps telling me I need to let go. I need to let go… and begin again.”
My mother closed her eyes for a moment. “That night… you ran, and Rock Crusher and I… we… we murdered him by drowning him in the lake,” she said. My eyes widened and she placed two hooves up. “Wait.Let me finish. We murdered him, because I thought I was right. I wanted revenge for my brother. My brother was a criminal, a psychopath that wasn’t even worth that revenge. What I helped do… it wasn’t right. It took me a long time to get away from seeing his eyes, his face. It drove me mad. I nearly took my own life because of it.”
“What… what happened?” I asked.
“I learned to let go. I made peace with the fact that yes… I helped end somepony’s life, and while I can never… never go back and fix that, I can move forward. I can begin again,” she said.
I looked up once more, hoping to glimpse the detective. His form was there, but it was hazy. His eyes clearly pierced me and I saw him smile and nod. He made a Pinkie Promise. And then… he was gone. I blinked and looked down, tears starting to drip from my eyes onto the ground. I found myself realizing that all anything ever took in this life was more than just another drink, another shot, or another rutting, it was the connections that we made with others that made life worth living. We needed those connections to survive, to live, to thrive.
My mother placed a hoof on me and I found myself bawling into her shoulder blade. I couldn’t stop myself. All those years of pain and everything I’d put myself through began pouring out. I couldn’t keep going this way. Eventually, something like what happened with the manticore would happen… and I would die. Nopony would come to save me.
I looked up at my mother and I pulled her into a hug. Surprised, she reciprocated, squeezing me tighter than I’d ever been squeezed in my entire life. We held each other for many long moments before finally disengaging. I wiped my face and tried to smile.
“You don’t have to call me that if you don’t want to,” she said.
“It… it feels right,” I said. “Thank you for saving me. Not just… not just from the manticore, but from me.”
“You’re welcome, sweetie,” she said. “Now get some rest. We’ll be on the move in the morning.”
When I woke up the next morning, my wounds had been entirely healed, and even though it took me a bit to get walking, we were able to get out of the safe house and headed back to Theater at a fairly brisk pace.
As we walked, my ears kept alert for anymore of those manticore things, despite the fact that my mother had said there wouldn’t be any around on the path we were on.
My mother… it felt… it felt right to call her that again. Forgiveness is hard, probably one of the hardest things that any single pony can do in their life. To forgive is to remember to let go, to allow new to clear out the old. To forget is harder, because there are simply things that are too difficult to forget. The Wasteland tries to make it so that we don’t forget what life is like. Life is messy, but life is special. It’s full of wondrous things and the ponies we choose to include in it. Those connections, family, friendship… we must have them. They’re necessary to remember that we always need to be forgiving and understanding.
I don’t know that I would forget the things I had done, or the things that Mom had done. I couldn’t. Just like I couldn’t forget the detective, who had sacrificed his life so that I could live. I had been a poor example of a pony living that kind of life. I had wasted the chance I was given by him by hiding in the bottom of a bottle or in somepony’s bed. But I had been given a second chance, a chance to learn from my life, and put things in perspective.
I had been given the chance to let go, to let go and begin again.
Where can we go
When will we find that we know
To let go
Begin, begin again tonight