Edited by uSea
CHAPTER 19: Rainy Days
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and down will come baby, cradle and all.
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 10:30 A.M. - LOCATION: Emerald Shores, Big 52 S Branch
Puppy whooshed past Sidekick, scooting narrow circles around the other foal. “Weee! You can't touch me! I'm super fast!”
The ghoul alternated between trotting and galloping to try and keep up; a distant bystander would have seen a couple of foals in hazmat suits playing together, and maybe that was exactly what they were doing. This made their journey toward Emerald Shores slow going, but it didn't seem to matter at all.
“So Sidekick,” said Puppy, stopping her scooter to look at her companion. “I'm not sure that Mom likes ugly ponies, but I'll tell her that you’re my friend and that you lost your mom to boot, and she will fix your arrow... ah... just don't do weird things, like Horse Tile ponies do, okie dokie? I don't want to get grounded the very first day...”
The creature tilted its head and Puppy decided that it could count as a ‘yes’. “Very well, I've been here some other times, it's super fun but you must not annoy the pretty ponies with too much questionings or Mom will scold you... ah... it's not that I really did anything wrong, but some ponies here don't like some conversation.” Like, asking thirty times in a row why she was allowed to trot around naked in Canterlot but had to wear a bikini when she was at the seaside... really, it made no sense at all.
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 11:00 A.M. - LOCATION: Ironworks, Big 52 S Branch
The raider's head exploded like a ripe watermelon, Trigger paused a moment to reload her combat shotgun while Jammed watched her back. “We better move fast, Happy... the Rangers must have found some resistance not far from here—” A nearby explosion rained down dirt and metallic fragments over their heads.
Trigger pulled the safety and readied her weapon again. “Yes, before we get some more unwanted holes.” The mare dashed to a tent. “Let's check this one, cover me.” As soon as Jamie was behind her, Happy tumbled inside and opened fire
BLAM! BLAM! KABOOM! “Eeeep!”
A bunch of electronic equipment exploded in a flash of sparks and colored flames. Good one Happy, keep firing at things that seem like robots instead of checking first. The inside of the tent contained a couch, a couple of crates, a table with some food laid out to be eaten, and another table with some once-functional radio equipment... but apparently there was nopony there.
Jammed stepped inside, checking on the situation. “So, what are we waiting for?”
The mare didn't reply immediately, still looking around the place. “I'm... not sure, but I think I heard a gasp when I came in shooting... only, I don't see the pretty pony that gasped...”
“Well, in that case it's easy.” The stallion lowered his assault rifle and shot a full burst all around the room, blowing holes in the crates, thrashing the bed and transforming the half eaten meal into a masterwork of post-modern art. His efforts were paid off when they heard a scream of pain and a mare appeared out of thin air under the bed. She had curled up into a ball, trying to stem the flow of blood from a wound in her belly.
“Lucky shot...” Happy muttered, approaching the wounded mare to finish her with a merciful bullet to the head. She was quite a young unicorn, with a tower as a cutie mark and the expression of a lost filly... The guard pony hesitated.
“Please... help me... I.... don't want to die...” The unicorn didn't even open her eyes as she pleaded between one spasm of pain and another. “Mommy... mommy... help me...”
“What are you waiting for? She's in agony!” Jammed sighed and trotted next to his mate, readying his rifle.
“Wait!” Happy lowered the stallion's gun with a hoof, without taking her eyes off the bleeding pony who was getting weaker with each passing moment, but still begged for her mother to come and save her.
“What... what have we become? Didn't we learn anything at all? This pony didn't even fight back, she was just hiding!” The mare pulled out a healing potion from her saddlebags and opened it.
“Are you planning to try saving this pony? Why? She would have killed you without a second thought!” Jamie snorted his disapproval. “Her 'friends' are actually killing our allies at this very moment!”
Trigger launched an accusing glare at the stallion. “Do you see any weapon in this room?” The wounded unicorn barely had the strength to sob, but Happy found a way to make her drink more than half of the potion. “Everypony is a pretty pony, we still could still bring back the real Equestria if we see this truth.” Trigger Happy cradled Pony Fort's head and hummed a soothing lullaby.
Jammed Gun sat besides his mate and sighed. “You care too much. Someday you'll regret this.”
Trigger shrugged and kept humming.
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 11:00 A.M. - LOCATION: Emerald Shores, Big 52 S Branch
Puppy frowned; this wasn't at all the Emerald Shores she knew! This place was a mess, and she couldn’t see any other ponies at all. All the pretty bungalows were so ugly that it was impossible that it was the same place and the playground was a disaster too!
“What is going on with everything these days!? Where are the ponies and the music, and the merry songs and all those funny shops and... and where is Mom!?” The filly in yellow groaned in frustration. “I'm sorry, Sidekick, it seems that a tornado went through this place! I wanted to show you the ferris wheel but...” Puppy gave a long, sad look at the rusted half-bent monster in the middle of the resort. “I don't think that it's running at the moment...”
Actually, the ghoul didn't seem to care very much, but Puppy really wanted to make a good impression on her new friend.
“Ah, maybe we will go to the candies store, yes? So we can get a surprise for Mom.” Well, that was actually a good idea! Taking a present to her mom was a good way to get extra hugs, after all. “We will go to the plushies store too! Let's go!”
The filly merrily trotted down the hill, toward the first houses. Emerald Shores was in a really bad shape, all the buildings were ruined and the windows were either barred or broken. Almost every door in town had been nailed shut with wooden planks.
“Wow, it must have been quite the storm! But don't worry, I know a mighty fine place we can get candies! It's down this alley!” Puppy splashed through a couple of puddles as she walked through a small passage between the buildings.
“Warning, mild radiation detected. Threat level: negligible.”
The filly simply ignored the warning and kept trotting down her way.
“Warning, heavy radiation detected. Threat level: negligible.”
Puppy frowned, annoyed by that mantra. “Aw, stop with the nonsense and prepare some bits, Mr. Voice! The yellow ones, I want lotta candies!” A bunch of golden coins floated in front of the foal, and she chirped in joy as she turned the corner to find...
“Awww! But that's unfair!” A shallow round crater stood exactly where the candy kiosk was supposed to be. Puppy sighed. “Alright, alright, don't worry, I know a lot of other good places where to buy treats.” Yeah, this place was a resort after all. There were lots of different choices to pick from; what were the chances that every single candy shop was gone?
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 11:15 A.M. - LOCATION: Ironworks, Big 52 S Branch
White poked his head inside the tent, levitating his rifle in front of him ready to fire, but almost immediately he lowered the weapon. “Pony down?”
Jammed Gun turned towards the White Apples' leader. “Well, sort of; we shot a raider in the guts and Happy is trying to save her life.”
“Oh okay, when you're done, the Rangers are pushing through— wait, what?” White stepped inside the tent, approaching the trio of ponies. “Weren't we supposed to shoot them down? Did the plan change?”
Gun shrugged. “Go figure, it has something to do with pretty ponies.”
“Oh, shut up Jamie! This mare wasn't even fighting, she had a StealthBuck and was hiding under the bed, unarmed. I'm a fighter, not a cold blooded killer.” Trigger Happy magically picked up a sheet from the bed and laid it on the mare's body.
Mister white shook his head. “Look, we don't have time for this, the Heard is retreating, we must give chase before they can reorganize! We are not playing the nice ponies! We need to close this battle quickly so that we can reach Puppy before that damn prophecy comes true and some ‘shadow’ falls on our heads!”
When she heard the name of Puppy, the wounded mare began to mutter in a low voice. “The ghost... she summoned the undying from the fog, they... they will eat your soul, they killed everypony... why did I anger the ghost? It's my fault... my fault... Mom, please, save me...”
“Ghost? Undying? It's just a magical curtain of fog, what is she blabbering about?” White raised an eyebrow in confusion.
Jamie cleared his voice. “Well, actually, coming here we found three ponies that were dismembered... like... well, as if somepony had killed them with his bare hooves. It was quite unsettling...”
Happy nodded. “Yes, I don't think that we were the first group that attacked here this morning... everypony we met was already fleeing or shooting blindly at everything that moved, friend or foe.”
The white stallion snorted. “Oh wonderful, at least this explains what was going on when we arrived... now, can somepony explain to me what the buck this raider is blabbering about?” He poked the mare on the shoulder, trying to make her talk a little more. “Hey, do you understand me? Who did you anger? What attacked you?”
“The ghost... the ghost of the Big 52... we.. no, I... I spanked her, she cried and... and her tears made demons arrive... yellow ponies like her, but cruel, soulless beasts... undying, they slaughtered the patrols and the guards... they killed Blood Bath... now they come for me! I spanked her, I SPANKED HER! IT'S MY FAULT!”
Pony Fort was screeching in panic and it took all the three ponies in the tent to keep her down.
“Woah, calm down! There are no demons here! They're gone! Stop struggling, you're still weak!” Sitting on the mare's back, Jammed finally managed to get her to calm down a bit or at least to make her stop trying to run away.
“Did you... spank Puppy?” Mister White almost snickered at that piece of information. “Really? I always miss the funny parts...”
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 11:15 A.M. - LOCATION: The Memorial, Big 52 S Branch
Pinkie Pie sat at Long Ears' side. “Well, that's all folks...”
The farseer let out a long breath as her trance slipped away. “I... feel so tired...”
“Oh don't worry, that always happens at the beginning, but it will get better, it's just a matter of getting used to the feeling.”
The unicorn mare tried to get up, but her legs couldn't support her weight. “Oh, so this is it.”
“Nah, not yet... but I don't think it will be much longer... you asked too much of yourself, and I warned you about that, do you remember?” Pinkie smiled. “Oh but don't worry, I was told it's not that painful, we can play something while we wait!”
Long Ears smiled a bit. Talking with a hallucination while slowly dying of drug poisoning, far from home and all alone. It was a high price to pay, but if it helped everypony else, it was worth it. “Tell me, will she be fine?”
“Why do you ask me? I'm not the shaman here! I'm just a party pony, why should I know? Want to pin the tail on the pony?”
“Please... I... need to know.”
Pinkie sighed, frowning. “Oh, why does everypony have to be so dramatic? Alright, alright! She won't be fine! Not yet. There's one last step, but that fog trick wasn't bad anyway.”
The unicorn sighed, wearily. “So, my death has no meaning...”
“Oh, puh-lease! Put away that frown, we still have a party to attend! Besides, it was a pretty nice fog, all things considered, and it really helped those poor ghosties from the graveyard... at least you set things in a way that the little ghost won't face her last trial alone... that's not a small task at all. You gambled against the odds and you won. You should be happy, well, it cost your life, but you should be happy anyway, right?”
“Aw, look at her! It looks like she’s sleeping!... Oh well, rise and shine little pony! We gotta move if we don’t want to be late!”
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 11:45 A.M. - LOCATION: Ironworks, Big 52 S Branch
“What the fuck do you mean, ‘she's not here’!?” Henry pressed her beak against Scold's muzzle, completely ignoring the crowd of rangers that instantly turned their weapon against her. “You fucking cheater! I did my part, I trusted you, and now you are telling me that she's gone!”
The griffon reared up and roared at the sky. Scold gestured to the surrounding rangers to lower their weapons and cleared his voice, clearly not very impressed by the mercenary's display of badassery.
“I know we made a pact, griffon, but she awoke and went away on her own; and you know how easy it is to keep that foal still when she wants to go away, right?” Scold was evidently being sarcastic.
Henry's eyes blazed like two pits of magma. “Do you know where she is now?”
Scold shrugged. “She was heading to Emerald Shores the last time I checked, but I'm no farseer.”
The mercenary deadpanned. “Let me guess: south of here.”
The ranger nodded. “Head to the sea, can't miss it.”
Lonesome Pony stepped out from the little crowd of bystanders. “Just hold on there a second, griffin! If you're planning to go there, I'm coming with you!” The stallion flapped his wings, flying in front of Henrietta. “And we should wait for everypony else as well, it could be dangerous!”
“Yeah, sure, I’m totally trusting you again after what happened last time! You proved to be totally trustworthy! Look there’s just one member of your damned race that I care about, and she’s not here... so long, ponies.” Henry spoke that last word as if it left a bad taste in her beak. The griffin flapped her wings and flew away, quickly disappearing behind the factory's roof.
Lonesome snorted. “I'm going with her. Please try to come after us as soon as possible.”
Mister White facehoofed. “Yeah, sure, let's get separated! This sounds like the best plan ever! Wasn't there still a prophecy about a shadow coming from south and stuff? We already left behind our mumbo jumbo expert, we can’t afford to split up again! I say that we check on the survivors of this place, decide what to do with the prisoners and when Long Ears arrives, move south all together.”
“And speaking of that... where the hay is Molten Gold?” asked Trigger Happy, while checking the surroundings.
The pegasus snorted again, with impatience. “Oh, for goodness sake! There are, like, fifteen rangers here, I’m sure they can manage this place better than the last owners and open that Stable door in the blink of an eye! I'm way more concerned about the Ghost, at the moment. I'm going after the griffin and I hope that you'll move quite soon, too! This is not a party, if the farseer is right we're in a race against time!” Lonesome Pony flew away, leaving his last few words hanging in the air.
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 12:00 AM - LOCATION: Emerald Shores, Big 52 S Branch
Puppy wasn't very happy. She couldn't find any presents for Mom. Actually, she couldn't even find a single pony in the whole town, which made her feel a little nervous. The filly had a feeling that something was wrong, and was beginning to fear that Mom had already gone somewhere else.
Still, the arrow pointed to a hill right in front of the sea, and it hadn't moved for all the time that Puppy stayed in town. The only problem was that each time she had reached the arrow so far a new one would pop up for her to follow. Again, and again, and again.
“Okie dokie, Sidekick, Let's go to Mom, maybe this time is the good one.”
The two ponies trotted uphill along a small muddy trail; the hill had patches of green grass and featured an old dead tree. When Puppy reached the top, she found herself in front of a small group of standing stones with names and cutie marks carved on them, like the ones at Dad's place... this was weird, was this another Dad's place?
A pony got up from under the tree’s skeletal limbs and walked towards Puppy and her new friend.
The filly turned her head toward the newcomer. “Mommy?” Puppy’s voice was edged with hope, but she quickly broke into a frown. “You're not mommy...” Right behind Puppy, Sidekick growled, ready to attack.
“No, Puppy, I'm not your mother, sorry.” Molten Gold coughed, making a rasping sound as he stopped besides a gray, partially moss-covered stone. “I'm really, really sorry.”
The foal trotted next to the ghoul and noticed how the pink arrow was pointing at the stone. The name on it was partially weathered, but she could clearly see the cutie mark with a cloud and three rain drops.
Mom's cutie mark.
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 12:00 AM - LOCATION: Emerald Shores, Big 52 S Branch
Mister White trotted out from the factory, followed by Scold. “It’s all settled, we can go.”
Trigger Happy nodded. “Alright, it shouldn’t be a long trip, but that’s no reason to dawdle.”
Scold looked at the road sign that announced the distance from Ironworks to Emerald Shores. Just six kilometers. If it wasn’t for the bad weather, they might have been able to see the town from where they were. “In that case we ride. But depending on what we find once we’re there, we may need to buy time for the others.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Let’s move slowpokes!” With these last words, Trigger Happy galloped south, along the last trail of the Big 52.
“Oh well, the last one there’s a Red Trotter.” Sage Brush flashed a smile at his uncle and the old scribe, then followed the mare, easily matching her pace.
Scold sighed. “Youngsters, they’ll be exhausted before they’re even halfway there.” The two older stallions followed the rest of the group, keeping a slower but more sustainable speed.
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 12:10 AM - LOCATION: Emerald Shores, Big 52 S Branch
The ghoul said nothing, and simply turned away to give Puppy the time to realize.
“Mom... is here? But...” The filly was still staring at the stone, trying to understand what was going on; in the meantime, Sidekick decided to ignore Molten and sat right behind the pack master.
“She went with Dad? But... but... no...” Puppy's voice was weak, low, as if she was talking with herself out loud, trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle without knowing what the big picture looked like.
“But... I wanted to go too... I... I wanted to see Dad, too! Why did she leave me home? I... I...”
Puppy broke into a quiet sob, but she continued with her monologue.
“I didn't mean to disobey, I just... just wanted to see the fireworks! I didn't know that the house was going to fall and that Mom was going away! I... I...” She sank onto her rump and looked down at her hooves.
“I just wanted to see the stoopid fireworks! Why did everything go so wrong!? I am sorry! I am really, really sorry, please Mom come back!”
Puppy cried out loud, screaming at the stone in a desperate attempt to be heard by her mother.
“Please! I... I will do whatever you say! Scold me! Spank me! But don't go away without me again!”
Molten Gold looked at the poor soul in front of him, trying to find something to say, anything. This scene was going far worse than he had figured and— oh crap, she was looking at him now.
“Please! Please you know where Mom is! Take my toys, take everything I have but tell me where she is? Want more shiny balls? I'll find all the shiny balls you want! Please, PLEASE!” Puppy got up and stepped toward the old ghoul, who couldn’t bring himself to avoid her stare or move back from where he was.
“Puppy... I'm sorry, but this is where your mother is. She... she is dead. She has been for a long, long time.”
Puppy smiled in a creepy way, her pupils shrinking until they were a couple of black dots in a white empty space and her smile broadened from cheek to cheek, in a way that Molten would have believed anatomically impossible. “Dead? Is it just that? She's dead? Then everything is okay, she will get better! I always get better when I die, you are dead and you are perfectly fine! Okie dokie Loki, dead is good, we have just to wait, right? Right?”
Molten Gold looked at her, tilting his head... get... better? Just wait? “Puppy... no. It doesn't work that way, she... she won't come back, she is dead, she is... look, you can stay with me, okay? I won't leave you alone. I know I'm not your mom but—”
“Two Puppysmiles!? What the hell is going on here?” Henry landed on the tree, causing a couple of branches to crack. “Oh, and don't even lay a hoof on my friend, zombie.” The griffon readied one of her pistols and kept it pointed at Molten Gold.
The filly in yellow turned toward the newcomer, recognizing her immediately. “Henry! Henry please! Mom... Mom is... she abandoned me! She went with Dad and the ugly mummy is saying she's not coming back again! I... please, help me!”
The mercenary took a moment to understand Puppy's words, then looked at the ghoul, who pointed at the grave with a hoof. “Oh, fuck... I'm late.”
With a flap of her wings Henrietta landed in front of the foal and put a claw on her helmet. “Puppy... you don't have to worry. I'm with you, okay? You are not alone.”
“But I want my mom! I NEED my mom! She... she is the only one that can fix all this! The broken house, this silly suit, find Sidekick's mom, make the happy days come back! I... I don't know what to do without her!”
Suddenly the griffon hugged Puppy, saying nothing for several seconds. “But... but you already did a lot on your own, Puppy... you saved me, and you gave freedom to the inhabitants of Sun City, and made the rangers stop fighting and... you are a good pony, you are the only nice pony I know. You don't need your mother to fix things. I can be your big sis, okay? Henry and Puppy, the best team ever!”
“The griffon is right, Puppy... You are quite a big pony yourself, your mom would be proud of you.”
Puppy broke free from Henri's embrace, her eyes burning pink. “But she left me here! She abandoned me and went with Dad! I love her, why did she abandon me? Why doesn’t she love me!?”
“What the—” Henrietta cocked her head in confusion. “What the fuck are you saying? She didn't abandon you by choice; she is dead! I'm sure she wouldn't ever abandon you! You were supposed to be safe in a Stable, otherwise she would rather die than leave you alone in a dangerous place!”
Lonesome Pony joined the group, landing on the branch that Henry had left. “Ah... I have no idea of what is going on, but I don't think that shouting at the foal will improve the situation...”
“Well, yeah, miss griffon, I'd avoid yelling like—”
Puppy ignored the two stallions, and practically roared her response. “So then why doesn't she come back and take me with her!?”
“You idiot, she's dead! DEAD!” Henry brought her beak up against Puppy's helmet and looked the foal straight in the eyes. Molten Gold tried to intervene, but Sidekick growled as soon as he had taken a single step. “Mom can't come back, you lost her, live with it! She is in that grave and won't never, ever come back for you! This is why you must react and take your stupid life in your hooves. Just leave that grave where it is and come with me. Let’s go, Puppy.”
The griffin turned on her tail and gave an exasperated look at the old mummy and the pegasus, before noticing a group of ponies that were galloping toward them from the north.
“See? Your friends are coming for you, you’re making everyone worry! Show some guts and shrug it off! It's now or never!”
Puppy looked at the various ponies, then again at the gray stone with the cutie mark. “Mom... is inside that stone?”
Henry dismissed the question, too focused on her own words to notice Puppy's look or even Molten gesturing like a mad and shaking his head. “Yeah, and she'll stay there forever, so you can come and visit her as much as you want. Now come back with the mortals, let's go and tell your friends that it's all right.”
Puppy grabbed The Rock Of Destiny and started to attack the tombstone.
“What the fuck are you doing!?” Henry tried to stop her friend, but Sidekick jumped between the two. Even Henrietta was disturbed by those burning eyes.
“Mom! Mom come out!” Puppy hit the grave stone with all her might, denting it with each strike, as Molten Gold and Lonesome Pony looked on in horror.
“Wait, little one! She won't come back like that! Please stop, you're... you're destroying your mother's grave!” Lonesome jumped from the tree, landing behind the stone and blocking Puppy's hoof. “What’s with you? STOP!”
“Lemme go! LEMME GOOO! I WANT MY MOM! WHY I CAN'T HAVE MY MOM!?”
Sidekick turned to face the pegasus, and as soon as Henry found an opening, she reached for Puppy and hit the foal on the helmet. “YOU IDIOT! PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER! Really, there are moments when I'd like to be able to slap you! Forget your mother, stubborn foal! You’re with me now, stop asking for the impossible and come back to reality!”
Confronted with the griffon’s rage and two ponies trying to hold her down, Puppy’s frenzy seemed to drain away. The foal looked off, towards the sea. “But... but if I forget her... if I can't reach her... there's nothing left to do for me...”
Henry waved a claw. “We will find something to do, okay? You just have to stop obsessing and calm down, I’ll think about everything else! Just... behave and stay put. Look, your other friends are here.”
The little group that was composed of Mister White, Scold, Trigger Happy and Jammed Gun finally reached the top of the hill. They were all exhausted, but Scold still had the strength to ask, “What... what's going on?”
Puppy looked at The Rock Of Destiny still in her hoof and sighed. “I... I don't know, I just want to... sleep forever, and never wake up...”
Henry patted Puppy on the helmet, smiling gently. “I know that feeling... but it will go away, I've been through that, too... now sit here and calm down for a moment, while we talk with the new arrivals, okie dokie?”
The filly in yellow nodded weakly and threw her stone away. The Rock Of Destiny rolled down the hill, bouncing and gaining speed, falling over the panoramic walk and landing on the beach with a loud metallic noise.
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 12:25 - LOCATION: Emerald Shores, Big 52 S Branch
Molten Gold and Lonesome Pony had already joined the group of new arrivals, so Henry hurried up to reach the others, leaving Puppy alone with the grave and her yellow-suited friend.
“Don't worry, she is getting better, she just needs some time on her own...”
“But... did she cry? How is she?...”
Puppy felt... empty. It was different from being sad, or angry, or anything else she felt until that day. She was in front of her mom, but Mom wasn’t there and she would have never been there for her anymore...
“...don't want to seem a bit paranoid, but I'd like to check anyway...”
“...keep an eye on the ghoul, it seems to be quite aggressive...”
Everypony was talking at the same time, creating a mess of voices overlapping each other. Puppy didn’t care, she was slowly sailing away along her route, deeper and deeper inside herself.
The simple idea that she wasn’t going to see her mother any more, drowned out everything else in her mind. No more mom. Ever. No more. She walked all this road just to see her again, it was the only reason she had. But now it was gone. She liked her friends, but this felt just wrong. Everything around her felt wrong, this wasn’t the place she was meant to live in, it was so evident! There had to be... something else, something different... something... better.
“...This is it? We did it? Big 52 is safe? The foal is alright? Maybe at last we can go back home...”
Back home... What home? It was gone. Her house in Canterlot was gone, Mom was gone. No more Mom. Forever. Puppy didn’t want to live like this, she didn’t want to... lie awake each night until the first light of dawn tried to peak through the clouds only to realize that... that Mom wasn’t there for her. She just wanted to go to sleep... and not wake up at all.
“Oh, but that’s easy, little one. You just have to ask and I’ll let you sleep forever. In a never ending, beautiful dream.”
“...Shut up, Jamie! Tunnel Town won't burn while we are away!”
“Really? You can do it?”
“Of course! I’m the master of dreams. I can give you all the happiness you want. All you need to do is ask.”
“...The Herd is not defeated, we simply drove them back, but we should consider offering them a peaceful solution...”
“...I'm not sure they will accept, White... their tribe is not based on love and care...”
“...Maybe now that all their hot shots are gone, the other will be more reasonable... we should at least try, Scold...”
“Forever and even more. It’s a pact, between you and me. I’ll give you an eternal dream where you can be with your mother and your father, and in exchange you’ll let me sort things out while you’re asleep. Deal?”
Sidekick tapped on Molten's back, whining, but the pony was more interested in the discussion between Scold and White than a brainless Canterlot ghoul. “I've been around for a lot of years, and I remember that the Herd wasn't originally that hostile... they began raiding when the tribes on the Big 52 started asking a toll to enter their settlements, the Herd traders couldn't afford it and they resorted to the other way of acquiring goods... I think that if the tribes will decide to share a bit, everything could go just fine.”
“...I'm not sure of that... My grandpa always said that the Wild Herd was a rattlesnake ready to bite you in the ass...”
“...Your Grandfather was the first tribe leader to introduce the toll, White! Why don't you show some common sense and be the first to abolish it?”
Puppy took a long breath and nodded. “Okie dokie. Deal. Do it.”
“You made the right choice, Puppy. You won’t regret it.”
“Do what now? Look Puppy, I really like you and a owe you a lot, but abolishing that tax is not that easy, please don't talk about things you don't understand...”
“Yes, yes, just... make all of this stop.”
“Oh, how much I love your naivety... I’ll miss it. Here we go, now close your eyes...”
Footnote: Level up! (18)
New perk added: Here and now! - You gain a level, because stuff.
Level up! (19)
New perk added: Concentrated Fire - When in S.A.T.S. you get a cumulative 5% bonus in accuracy when aiming more than one shot at the same body part of a target... Well, what did you expect? Puppy was so depressed that she picked a random perk. She doesn’t even have S.A.T.S.!
New Quest Perk added: Galloping Nightmare (Rank 3) - Yay, now you are Nightmare incarnated. This could give you some issues with social life. Oh, and your standing towards every faction is set to hostile. On the bright side, we won’t list all the bonuses you get since it would take too long.
Link to Chapter 18
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, Aerondight, Arcane Scroll, Palacioskw and Anonsamurai for helping me both with the language and the eternal struggle of keeping the story on its rails ^_^