Edited by uSea
Chapter 20: Terminal
And when the party’s over we’ll gather ‘round for a group hug!
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 12:35 AM - LOCATION: Emerald Shores, Big 52 S Branch
Against the din of waves crashing into the rocky shore, Puppysmiles sat facing a gravestone. Her group of friends argued a short distance away, but she could only hear the Voice whispering inside her head. It spoke of pacts and promised dreams.
“Yes, yes, just... make all of this stop.”
Henrietta barely heard Puppy talking behind her, but she felt a sudden chill in the air, like a cold night’s breeze bringing with it the creepy sensation that she had just woken up from a bad dream but couldn’t remember what it was about... Suddenly, what the foal had said seemed a lot more important.
Everypony turned toward Puppysmiles. Was she talking with herself? Make what stop? How?
As Henry approached, she could see that Puppy’s eyes were closed and her head hung low. The foal’s mane was rapidly changing color, turning dark blue from its original blonde. “Puppy? Are you okay? What... I... I think that you have something in your mane...”
When Puppy spoke, it was with a different voice. Like the sound made by a chorus of ponies calling from the bottom of a cave. “I salute you, my humble minions. I’m finally here among you, bow at the dawn of a new era!”
Henry cocked her head and raised both her eyebrows. “The what of a new what? Puppy, what’s going on?”
Sidekick’s eyes turned from red to blue, and it took up position on Puppy’s flank, standing like a sentry. The creepy new Puppy continued. “I am not Puppysmiles, I am Creepy Voice, a child of the Stars, and your new ruler. Under my guidance, a new Equestria will rise.”
Scold shook his head and looked over at Molten Gold. “The Stars? Like in... ancient zebra folklore? Those Stars?”
The scribe’s question was interrupted by Henrietta’s laughter. “Creepy Voice? What kind of name for a villain is that? I mean, really? Creepy Voice? Did you come up with that all by yourself?”
Puppy stepped back, with an embarrassed expression that rapidly shifted to anger. “It... it is a name you’ll learn to respect, fools! Now bow to me and return to your towns, announcing my advent!”
Trigger Happy snorted, stepping in front of the other ponies. “Or else?”
The blue flames that burned in Creepy’s eyes expanded until they completely filled her helmet; a blazing cobalt crown appeared above her head, and more blue fire sprouted from her back, forming a pair of ghostly wings. “Or else, I will devour your souls!”
Happy hesitated, looking at the filly while Lonesome Pony muttered to Scold. “Can she do that? Can she eat souls?”
The scribe looked back at the DJ and shrugged. “...how am I supposed to know that? If she really is connected with zebra dark magic, then it’s possible... only... I don’t think she’s strong enough for that just yet.”
The pegasus raised an eyebrow. “She isn’t?”
“No, she’s still manifesting, just look at how that fire of hers is flickering. I think I know how to stop this story before it even begins.” The scribe spoke in a very low voice while Happy kept the creature occupied. Molten Gold and Lonesome Pony listened to him with all their attention.
“I think that I can sever the bond that ties this entity and Puppy’s soul together... without a soul to feed on, Creepy Voice.. ah... that creature, won’t be able to manifest itself and will be banished.”
“So, what are you waiting for, an invitation?” asked the ghoul impatiently.
“No, I’m not strong enough to do this on my own.. it’s a ritual, but it’s long and complicated, and meant for unicorns only... no offense, Gold...”
The old treasure hunter shrugged. “No offense taken... so basically you’re telling us that we are going to be fucked by a zebra demon with a foalish name?”
“Hey, what’s going on? Does the egghead here have a plan?” White popped his head into the trio of ponies, interrupting the conversation.
“Actually, yes, but I need some minutes to figure out the details, help Happy keep Creepy Voi— no, really, what kind of name is that?” The scribe facehoofed. “Well, keep her talking while we try to pull this off, okay?”
White nodded and turned on his tail, trotting toward the trio composed of Henrietta, Trigger Happy and Jammed Gun. “Hey, Your Highness, did you mention something about a new era? Can you elaborate on that part? Will it be better than the manure we are swimming in at the moment?”
The nightmare stopped considering Henry and her annoying question about names and turned toward the new arrival. “Indeed! My magic is far superior to that of mere ponies, with it I can heal this poisoned land and bring about a new reign of prosperity! Your violent lifestyles will be at an end; I won't allow my subjects to squabble amongst themselves. Instead you will build immense temples in my honor! All you have to do is worship me, and pay tribute to me and all the problems in your life will be solved!"
White nodded at the response and tilted his head. “Well, that sounds mighty interesting... but... may I ask what you mean by paying tribute to you?”
The creature smiled before sitting down and closing her eyes, acquiring an air of mentorship. “Absolutely. Your master, that is me, will ask very little for the good of many. Aside from your worship, I require a pony sacrifice every full moon from each major city. In return, I will cleanse the land poisoned by ponykind, allowing you to grow food and live your lives under my rule!"
Trigger Happy cocked her head, frowning. “W-what are you going to do with sacrifices?”
Creepy Voice waved her hoof, dismissively. “Never you mind.”
Henry and Happy had their mouths open, listening at what the possessed filly was saying. Happy drew her weapon, but she stopped when she noticed White’s gesture to wait.
Henry, on her side, scratched her head. “Yes but... will you give us back Puppy?”
The nightmare blinked her eyes for a moment, surprised. “What? She doesn’t want to come back: she is sleeping and dreaming, in a place where nopony can hurt her. We made a pact.”
At that reply, Trigger Happy snapped. “You did a what? Listen, I know my friend Puppysmiles and how easy she is to trick! Whatever pact you made it’s not valid! You can’t just... just... talk a foal into something and pretend it’s legitimate! Let her go!”
The monster laughed, with a silvery tinkling voice. “Tee-hee, you’re funny! Why should I yield a perfect soul to possess? Her obsession trapped her on this plane and as long as she sleeps, she will never realize the truth. So no, I’m not letting the foal out of her dream, but on the other hoof, I’m offering all of you the privilege of being my heralds so you can announce my coming to all of Equestria.”
“So, long story short...” Henry tilted her head. “You are Nightmare Moon?”
“Well, no... I mean... yes... I mean... Nightmare Moon was more ancient and powerful than me...” For a moment the creature hesitated, but she seemed to recover almost immediately. ”But I am more than strong enough to shut your stupid beak!”
Henrietta deadpanned. “So... basically... you’re a newbie... a Nightmare Noob.”
Trigger Happy burst into laughter, rolling on the grass as she fought for breath; Mister White facehoofed, while the other three ponies stopped talking for a moment, trying to understand what was going on.
“ENOUGH! THAT’S IT! THERE’S PLENTY OF SUBJECTS I CAN USE, I DON’T NEED YOU, USELESS BUNCH OF... OF... IGNORANT WEAKLINGS!”
Henrietta snickered. “...Said the filly that can’t count beyond four...”
“YOU INSOLENT LITTLE... YOU WILL SUFFER!”
“No, she wont! Bad monster! Stay put!” Scold stepped in front of Henrietta, staring straight into the Nightmare’s eyes. “We will banish you forever, with the power of science!”
“Teeh-hee” The creature giggled, evidently quite capable of shifting from anger to mirth on a whim, and dismissed the scribe with a wave of a hoof. “Don’t make me laugh! Science! Do you have the slightest idea of what power you are facing? Oh for Nightmare Moon’s sake, try something more believable!”
Scold smiled, not very impressed by the nightmare’s reaction. “Oh, so you want the details? Very well, then listen carefully. Since I already had the opportunity to check Puppy’s suit, I did some research and I found some interesting clues. Your very existence in this place is caused by a foolish attempt at using necromancy as a life saving device, but I know how to fix that horrific mistake the Ministries made! The talisman itself has proved to be almost impervious, but the spell inside is more than unstable. The way your flames wax and wane make that abundantly clear. Now, I have some unicorns here and even if they don’t know a thing about dispelling magic, I can tap into their power for as long as we need. So, guess who’s getting dispelled today?”
“What the...” The demon stepped back, with an expression of real concern on her muzzle now.
“Alright everypony, I’m casting the spell, you just clear your minds and this nightmare will be over! Let the magic flow!”
A flash of light exploded from Scold’s horn and shot between the assembled unicorns, each of them sending out ethereal threads that became woven into a mighty spell.
Happy closed her eyes and let the magic flow through her, quickly followed by Mr. White and Jamie. Soon all their horns were glowing a brilliant white and the light expanded until it had enveloped the whole hill and everypony on it.
Henrietta grit her beak tightly and was forced to shield her eyes from the blinding glare. Something that Scold had said didn’t sit right with her. He was going to stop the demon by destroying the necromantic spell being used as a life saving device... but wasn’t that what was keeping Puppy alive?
Henrietta turned toward the old scribe. “Wait! Are you trying to kill Puppy!?”
Scold didn’t reply, but from within the shining cloud of light the monster’s voice confirmed Henry’s fears. “Fools! If you break the spell, the foal will die with me!”
“No, fuck, NO! You’re not going to kill her, you fucking unicorn!” Roaring, Henry charged at Scold, slamming into him so hard he flew for a couple of meters before landing heavily on his back. He screamed in pain and lost focus on the spell.
The light exploded in a rainbow of colors, spreading all around and dancing in every direction, but without a pattern. It was more like a giant disco ball gone crazy and rolling along a corridor than a real rainbow, and when at last the light died...
Nightmare Noob A.K.A. Creepy Voice, opened an eye, uncertain of what was going to happen next. Everything seemed to be still and silent, so she dared to opened the other eye too, and looked at the confused ponies in front of her. An evil smile appeared on her now very satisfied muzzle.
“So... in the end, Puppy’s griffon friend proved to be very useful to me... but next time you might want to pick better allies for yourself, yes?” The monster chuckled. “Oh, silly me, there won’t be a next time, since now you’re all going to die.”
Scold shook his head as he got to his hooves, still dazed by Henrietta’s tackle. “What... why did you stop the ritual, you featherbrain? It was working...”
The other unicorns looked around at each other in a stupor, struggling to stand after the exhaustion of casting. Molten Gold tried to wake Mister White, while Henry advanced on Scold, with a grim, accusing stare. “You... you won’t take Puppy from me! There must be another way, I’m sure of it!”
“But... you stupid deluded brat! The foal is already dead, we are trying to save the Big 52 here! Come down from your... your... ‘Wonderful dreaming place’ and get real!” Scold was practically foaming at the mouth. The mercenary had disrupted their best chance to win and now a lot of ponies were going to die because of her.
The nightmare savored the taste of crushing victory that was still lingering in the air. “Oh, this is so tempting... looking at your little argument is a real treat, but I have a schedule.” Creepy Voice looked at Sidekick and in that moment the ghoul’s eyes turned night blue. The Canterlot foal turned towards the ponies like a hound. Nightmare Noob smiled. “Let the games begin. Go, my minion, teach that chicken some manners.”
Sidekick crouched, ready to pounce on Henry like a cat on a mouse; the griffon was so focused on her argument with Scold that she didn’t notice the ghoul jumping until it was too late. She didn’t even hear Trigger’s warning.
The impact sent the griffon and the ghoul rolled down the hill, a whirling ball of hooves and claws. Henry fought without thinking, her predator instincts being all that kept her from being crushed by the foal’s unholy strength. She tore with her talons and punched with her fists, dodging the return strikes and knowing that a single hit would be the end for her. The melee continued, both figures locked in a dance to the death even as they tumbled over the edge and fell to the rocks below.
Creepy Voice watched as her minion vanished from sight and shrugged. “Oh well, meanie chicken broke my toy. It seems that I’ll have to do everything myself, as usual... so, who’s first?”
Lonesome Pony and Molten Gold exchanged a quick glance before opening fire. They emptied their magazines at point blank range, the bullets tearing through the Nightmare like a hot knife through butter.
Dozens of holes dotted Puppy’s chest but they didn’t seem to have any effect at all. Many had already begun to close. “It’s hard to kill something that’s already dead, isn’t it?” Creepy Voice giggled as she lifted Lonesome Pony with her magic and slammed him into the tree. The pegasus hit the trunk with a wet, crunchy noise, and fell to the ground unmoving, his back bent in an unnatural way.
Not even checking to see if Lonesome was actually dead, the Nightmare turned towards Jammed Gun. “So, I reckon you’re with the sweet mare there? How cute, you’ll die together, like the protagonists of some cheap old play! Any last words?”
“Actually, yes.” Mister White smiled a little as he interrupted Creepy Voice and levitated a radio from his saddlebags. “Plan B.” His eyes narrowed. “We’ve got backup.” With a sound like distant thunder, sniper fire blew apart Pup’s helmet and ripped away one of her legs.
The wicked creature roared. Spreading her wings, she flew up into the sky and conjured lightning from the clouds. The bolt struck the ferris wheel like a hammer, heating the metal and weakening the last joints that still allowed it to stand. The gigantic metal structure creaked and screeched, before collapsing on the small building that Sage Brush and a couple of acolytes were sniping from.
“No! Sage!” White turned towards the town, looking at the rubble that once had been his nephew’s hiding spot... no... this was... this wasn’t going as planned at all!
A salvo of missiles streaked through the air toward the creature when she was far enough from the ponies below, shrouding her completely within a flourish of explosions. The rangers charged from their hiding spots in town, discharging every weapon they had in the monster’s direction.
The battle had begun.
Henry groaned. It was all dark, cold and wet; her bones ached in places she didn’t even know she had, and she was almost sure that something was completely wrong.
A sweet and merry voice hammered like a pink flash in her head. “Oh don’t worry, it’s just you being your usual meanie self... nothing else!”
“A... meanie what? Am I dead?” The griffin’s headache was getting worse, while the sound of explosions and ponies screaming thundered in her ears. There was a... a thingy, something like a pink dot, dancing in her head and speaking to her.
“Silly chicken, you’re not dead, duh! You’re just a bit confused and somersaulting down six meters onto those rocks didn’t help at all, but I’m sure you’ll be okay lickety split! Dashie did that all the time and never got hurt!”
“Puppy... how is she? I... I must save her!”
The pink dot moved a bit, shifting from a colloquial, merry attitude to a more accusing one. “Really? Because it seems to me that you’re simply trying to hog her all for yourself!”
“What the... what the fuck are you blabbering about? I just want her to be safe!”
“So that she can stay with you forever and ever?” The voice started fading. “Whom are you wishing well? Poor little Puppy or poor lonely Henry?”
“I... I don’t know anymore... But I... I want to make her happy. She seems so different, like a distant memory that doesn’t want to fade... I don’t want to lose her but she seems to be unable to think of anything else but her mother, like a... a recurring nightmare!”
“Or maybe, a sweet dream that doesn’t know how to fade... maybe she just needs a last, little help from her very best friend.” The voice had gradually changed; at first it had sounded like an overenthusiastic youth, but now it sounded like an old mare. Somehow it was very, very familiar to Henry, reminding her of the dreams she had had when she was prisoner in Sun City. “There’s just one last step to trot, find Puppy’s rock and fulfill its destiny.”
With a gasp, Henry opened her eyes, finding herself in the middle of a rocky beach. She was lying on what was left of a badly crushed Space Ensign Sidekick; the ghoul had taken the brunt of the fall and was now just a flat squashed yellow bug. Henry drew one of her .45s and made sure that the creature was completely gone, putting another two holes in its head before checking the surroundings.
Up above her head, a pony flew over the ridge, screaming as she was sent out to sea. The dark magic faded, and she kept going for a good two hundred meters before splashing in the cold waters.
Henry tried to ignore the sounds of battle coming from above her head and gulped down a healing potion as she began her search for that stupid stone. “Puppy’s stone, Puppy’s stone, how the fuck am I supposed to find a damn stone in the middle of a rocky beach? Magic Rock my ass!” She scowled at a nearby rock and kicked it hard, sending it flying into a rusted metal box a few meters away. The rock rebounded and, of course, hit Henry squarely between her eyes.
“Fuck!” The griffon rubbed her forehead and picked up the offending stone from the ground. Every rock had its voice, and Henry knew this one very well . “That s the last time you get one over on me... So... what now? You hit a metal box, dumb rock, were you trying to tell me something? What are you, some sort of rock of destiny?” Henry snickered as she approached the box, and introduced its padlock to The Rock Of Destiny.
“Very well, let’s see what’s inside the treasure chest...”
Some papers, an old brushable Applejack doll, some photos... Henry took the pictures and looked at them; In one there was Puppysmiles, only younger and without her radsuit. She was smiling in front of a carrot cake with four candles on it; there were some other ponies in the background, it seemed to be a birthday party. On the second picture there were a white stallion and a purple mare, they were sitting in front of an old wooden sign announcing that they were entering the town of Appleoosa. Between the two ponies sat a pouting Puppysmiles, as if she didn’t want to take the photo or be in that place at all. The filly seemed even younger in this picture, maybe three... Henry turned the pic and found a note: Last trip with Better. A third photo showed Puppy dressed in an a smock and sporting a big blue bow in her mane, she was smiling, proud of her new dress. Another note, written on the front this time, said: Puppy’s first day of kindergarten.
Turning the last photo, the young mercenary found some weathered lines written on the back.
In a different place and in a different time, beyond the horizon, we will be together again with Dad and I’m sure I’ll be proud of you.
Because Mom will always be proud of her little sunshine.
I love you.
A missile flew over the ridge and exploded on the shore, illuminating just for a moment the tears running down Henry’s face.
The mercenary sighed, finally giving in to the truth in front of her eyes. “She... she never belonged here... Fuck...” Henrietta rubbed her eyes, putting down the photos. “Fuck, why does it have to end like this!? WHY!?”
A new explosion painted the sky red. Ponies up there were dying, fighting something that was already dead. Dying because she wanted to keep the foal for herself instead of letting her go, as it should have been. Now Henry knew what had to be done; still, that didn’t mean she had to like it. “Not fair. Not fair at all...”
Paladin Gauss’ eyes widened as the missile he’d just fired was thrown back at him.
“Gauss! NO!” Cold Shower could only watch in horror as the explosion took away one of her oldest friends. She turned towards the Nightmare, her eyes full of anger and pain. “Stupid bitch, why won’t you die!?” The barrels of both the miniguns mounted on her power armor span up and she fired until her guns were empty, but the bullets bounced harmlessly off the Nightmare’s shield and were completely ignored as the creature launched a second acolyte into the ocean.
Creepy Voice had already killed two rangers and thrown several other attackers onto the sea, but with all these ponies around she was getting confused. How was she supposed to fight all of them at once? Really, these stupid equines didn’t even know the rules of a proper duel! She was growing bored of their little game. Yes, killing ponies could be fun but it seemed pointless, especially when she had more important things to do, like take over the world.
Who was supposed to be the leader of this bunch of idiots? Oh right, the old scribe... Creepy Voice smiled with evil on her mind. “So, where is that guy with the cape?” Landing in front of the old pony, Creepy Voice folded her ethereal wings and faced her adversary, not even trying to hide her amusement. “Here you are! Scold, right?” There was a pause, while the unicorn looked confused at the foal’s new change of mood, but the Nightmare cut it short. ”Very well, die.” With her magic, the monster grabbed the old stallion’s heart and squeezed. Scold collapsed with barely a whimper.
In the same moment, Henrietta flew over the ridge, landing again on the tomb’s hill. The scene in front of her eyes made her cringe. This was her fault, all of this was happening because of her selfishness. Ponies fighting, ponies dying, this wasn’t what Puppy would have wanted at all. It was time to end it. “Puppy! Puppy, listen!”
The nightmare let out an annoyed sigh and turned towards the griffon. “Hey, it’s not your turn yet! Don’t you know that there’s a list? I’m almost finished with this one, then I’ll be killing you too; so don’t push and keep your ticket ready!”
Trigger Happy crawled towards Scold while the Nightmare was busy giggling at her own humor. The security mare tried desperately and uselessly to revive the scribe; their numbers were being mowed like a wheat field in front of a reaper: Molten Gold was struggling to break free from the tree he had been impaled on, Lonesome Pony had already passed out with his back broken and even the well equipped and combat trained rangers were losing ground. This was the end, they were all going to die here. For a moment, Trigger felt sad, she really, really wanted a foal of her own to love and care for. This was so unfair...
“Puppy, wake up! You... You can see you mother for real!” Henrietta kept screaming with her high pitched bird voice. She was actually quite annoying. “This Nightmare is a bug and a stinker, you’re cooler than that, you learned from the best!”
Creepy Pup snorted. “Aren’t you even able to wait your turn to die?” A halo of dark magic surrounded a large chunk of road and hurled it towards Henry, but the griffon was agile and dodged it easily. “Now I am disappointed, bad chicken! Don’t make me come down there!”
Henrietta flew in front of Puppysmiles and pressed her beak against Puppy’s glass helmet. “Puppy you moron, you are dead! D.E.A.D! Just like your mom! Are you so stupid that you don’t even realize how to die!? Dump this idiot and go with your parents! Please!”
“What?” The nightmare blinked her eyes, startled by the griffon’s sudden assault. What was she saying? Was she... trying to speak to Puppy? Oh no, no no nononono! “Shut up! She can’t hear you, fool!”
“C’mon Puppy, Wake up! You’re not forced to stay here! I... I don’t want you to stay here with me, you have to go! I’ll be fine! Just...”
Henrietta was trapped in a blue corona and her body started to twist, producing disturbing snapping sounds. Creepy Voice looked straight into the mercenary’s eyes, with a stare full of anger and hate. “You. Die. Now.”
Henrietta smiled weakly, unable to resist the powerful magic crushing her body. “Puppy... Mom is... Just over the horizon...”
Puppysmiles sat in front of a pond, looking at the fishes that swam within. Everything around her was still and calm; a blanket of snow covered the ground and the clear sky showed hundreds of stars. She wasn’t happy, but somehow she wasn’t sad either. It was like being dazed, everything seemed so muffled and unimportant. There were just her, the snow and the fishes in the pond.
Puppy wasn’t aware of how much time passed since she sat there, but it wasn’t so important; she just wanted to forget... she couldn’t remember. Well, maybe it was actually working. At least, until a weird goldfish poked its head out of the water.
“Puppy you moron, you are dead!”
“Wut?” The filly tilted her head, then checked her hooves and her tail. “I’m not dead, stoopid fish!”
A second fish poked it’s head from the pond, this one spoke in a feminine voice. “C’mon Puppy, Wake up! You’re not forced to stay here!”
“Henry? Why are you a fish now?” Puppy giggled. “Silly Henry, fishes don’t talk!”
Frost began to creep over the pond, but a third goldfish jumped out from the water, talking again with Henry’s voice. “Mom is just over the horizon!”
“Mom, where did Dad go?”
“He’s somewhere beyond that rainbow, Puppy...”
“Will... will he come back?”
Mom didn’t reply, but Puppy really, really wanted to see Dad again.
“Can... Can we go where he is?”
“Yes Puppy... one day, maybe not tomorrow, or not the day after... in a different place, and in a different time... we will be all together again, okay? Just... just over the horizon.”
“Cross my heart, hope to fly...”
“Stick a cupcake in my eye...” Puppy looked up in the sky. And finally saw him.
“—really, really late and I know I actually have all the time in the universe, but I hate these kinds of anomalies and this one has been going on for two hundred years! I’m beginning to lose my cool, there are a lot of better places I’d like to be rather than here!” A skeleton wearing a black hood was talking in Puppy’s direction, but he seemed to talk to himself more than the foal.
The little filly smiled. That skelly pony was funny, he was talking like those grumpy ponies at the veteran retirement house! “Hi, I’m Puppysmiles! Have you seen my mom?”
“Oh, please! Not that litany again! I’m going to resign, or strike! Or strike and then resign!”
The skeleton pony was interrupted by the giggling filly. “Tee-hee, skelly pony is funny!”
Stopping his monologue, the grim reaper finally noticed that the foal was looking at him. “You... can you see me? Is this some sort of prank? Because if this is a prank I’m going to give up for real, this time...”
Puppy tilted her head. “A prank? I hope not! Last time I made a prank I was spanked ultra hard!”
The pony paused for a long moment before falling down on his haunches, with a ghostly sigh. “At last...”
Puppy trotted near to the weird looking stallion and sniffed his clothes. “Ah, who are you, pretty skelly pony?”
“Me? I’m the Grim Reaper, Death, the Inevitable End, the Black Stallion...” From the foal’s blank stare, the skeleton realized that he was just wasting good words. ”But my colleagues call me Mort. Long story short, I’m the guy that shows the deceased how to reach their afterlife.”
Puppy tilted her head, confused. “So... Have you seen my mom, or not?”
The skeleton shook his head. “You’re a lost cause...” A silvery ticket covered in shining pink letters appeared in front of Mort and gently fell like an autumn leaf between Puppy’s hooves. “Here, take this ticket. It’s worth a ride to the other side. Remember, not everypony gets the silver ticket: it’s a really special one that will bring you there lickety split, be grateful.”
Puppy’s eyes grew bigger. “I... I am going to see Mom? For real? No more... pink arrows, or stoopid bullybots, or falling houses? Just... Mom?”
The reaper nodded. “Exactly.” Mort paused for a moment before continuing. “It must have been hard, this is my personal way to say I’m sorry for not being able to help you earlier.”
Puppy stopped listening as soon as the pretty skelly pony had said what she wanted to hear. “Yush!” The foal hugged the skeleton for a moment, before looking at the pond which had now completely frozen over.
“Oh right! Henry! Just let me say bye to my friends!” Puppy turned on herself and the whole scene with the pond and the snow exploded into a thousand shards, dissipating into nothingness and revealing the battlefield around the graveyard.
“...Just over the horizon...” The griffon’s eyes grew clouded as she slipped into unconsciousness.
As soon as Henry had said those last words, the Nightmare’s eyes flared pink and for a moment her expression changed completely. “Bye bye Henry! A pretty skelly pony is sending me where Mom is, and this time with a super shiny ticket!”
The pink in Puppy’s eyes faded away one last time and all the lights on her HUD turned red, signaling an endless sequence of system errors. “Warning. Subject 001 Puppysmiles cannot be located. Warning. Power level is critically low. Warning. Self repair function not responding. Warning. Hardware not found. Warning. General shut down in five, four, three, thank you for using Ministry of Peace technology. Have a nice day and please, be safe.” With these words, the whole HUD on the helmet disappeared, leaving only the shocked face of Creepy Pup staring at the now empty glass.
The monster stepped back in horror, releasing her magical grasp on the griffon, who fell to the ground and rolled a few meters downhill. “What have you done, fool? I’ll kill you all immediately, puny insects!” The monster stretched her wings, ready to release a new wave of magic, but something was wrong with her. The suit had begun to deflate like an old, empty leather ball. “What... what’s going on? I’m melting! NO, NOOOO!” Small eruptions of pink gas leaked from every hole in the fabric, while the monster fought to keep her grasp over what was now an empty husk.
“You! You have not won! I will be back! Ponies make the same mistakes all the time, I’ll be baaAAH-” Nightmare’s Pup face melted in a pink eruption, filling the helmet with a curtain of gas. For a moment the suit inflated like a party balloon as whatever force that kept the pink ooze in a fluid form stopped working and the pink agent reverted to its usual gaseous state. As the scream from the Nightmare reached its highest note, the suit’s locks failed and the gas exploded out of the harness, making a sound like a whistle.
The ponies that still were capable of walking grabbed the wounded and dragged them away, far from the expanding cloud of pink death that had started to lazily invade the whole hill.
“Go go go! Let’s get away from that stuff!” Cold Shower dragged away what was left of Gauss, following the others.
Creepy Voice continued to scream as they fled, a long wail of anger and agony.
Half dragged and half pushed, for a moment Henry regained a spark of lucidity. Everything seemed distant, and she felt as if she was floating in a warm place, lulled by gentle invisible waves. And in the middle of that moment of peace, the mercenary heard Puppy’s voice. “Hey... hey Henry...”
The griffon groaned. That foal wouldn’t know the difference between a wrong moment and the worst possible moment even if she bumped into it with her muzzle.
Puppy ignored Henry’s mental complaints. “Listen, I has really no time, but I wanted really really REALLY to say I’m sorry, but I has to go... I... we are still friends, right?”
Still friends? That was a weird question... the filly was more than a friend, she was something more, something bigger, in Henry’s life...
“Really? You... you liked me that much? I know! We can be sisters! Yush! Henrietta Days! I lovelovelove it!”
The griffon chuckled, still half dazed by the Nightmare’s embrace, Henrietta Days... sure... that was totally going to happen... adopted by a pony.
“Okay sis, gotta go I love you bai!” And with those last words Puppy’s voice faded away as the griffon passed out again.
DAY 14 - TIME approximately 17:00 PM - LOCATION: Emerald Shores, Big 52 S Branch
Good day, Big 52! And for once I mean it! This is DJ Good Stuff and you are listening to Radio 52, the radio of good news!
Boisterous triumphant music played for a few seconds.
I’ve been receiving transmissions from Ironworks and Broccoli since this morning and now I can safely say that the news is confirmed: the Wild Herd was defeated! WOOHOO! Yes my little ponies, you heard me well, the good guys trotted down to Ironworks and kicked some raider ass for good!
The DJ laughed enthusiastically, evidently too happy to keep even a shade of professionalism.
I still lack the details, but it seems that the Applejack’s Rangers along with a group of volunteers, and please note that Lonesome is among them, assaulted their camp very early in the morning and caught them by surprise, killing a large number of raiders and routing the others. This is how things get done ‘round here, raiders! You better think twice before you mess with us!
Good Stuff paused for a moment before continuing; in the background there was a sound of shuffling papers.
Okie dokie, now, for those that have friends and relatives in Ironworks... the situation seems dire: most of the adult ponies have been killed during the siege, but there are still some survivors, mostly the elders and the foals, with a small group of guards that found shelter inside Ironworks’ Stable. I don’t have a list of the survivors so far, but I’m working to get one, so expect some more news during the day.
In the other news, Splendid Valley was hit by a huge explosion that completely devastated it. Apparently, this has something to do with the Enclave, since—
Trigger Happy turned off the radio and turned towards the Hill. The pink cloud had been scattered by the wind, but not before coloring the solitary tree in sugary pink. Right under the tree stood two graves.
Henry looked at the last stone in her claws. The Rock Of Destiny... The griffon sighed, weighing Puppy’s weapon before putting it on top of the small mound erected next to Rainy Days’ grave. A small toy pony sitting on a foal-sized red scooter had been left in front of the memorial, almost like a bunch of flowers.
The young mercenary opened her beak, looking for some words to say but closed it again without thinking of anything. Mr White arrived from town, carrying a rusted road sign; the stallion patted Henry on the shoulder before taking a brush and painting two words on the metal plate.
Trigger Happy approached the new grave, frowning a bit. “Is... it’s that all? Just a name? It seems so... cold...”
The White Apples leader shrugged. “It’s how we have always done things ‘round here. Graves are not for showing.” The stallion looked away from Trigger, staring at the other graves on the hill. Cold Shower and Scold still sat in front of the numerous ranger graves; Sage Brush’s tomb was sitting alone, facing north, towards Salt Cube City. White shook his head and turned back to Happy. “It wouldn’t be fair. Her grave is not the only one that was dug today. Let’s stick to our traditions.”
Trigger Happy nodded and sighed before she turned away and approached Scold. The old unicorn was looking at a holotag in his hooves, but when the mare approached him, he put the object away with a sad expression. The security mare kept her voice as low as possible while talking to him. “How are The DJ and the Ghoul doing?”
Scold shrugged. “Gold will survive, he just needs some radiation... Lonesome Pony... well, we will try implanting him with an artificial spine, but we lack the correct instruments and I don’t know if he’ll survive the operation. Your coltfriend should be with him right now, maybe you should go and check yourself.”
The mare lowered her eyes. “I... I’m sorry for your losses... I could have taken all the guards from Tunnel Town with me, not just me and Jamie...”
The old scribe smiled weakly. “It’s not your fault, we had no idea of what we were going to face here. Those that gave their lives fighting against that horror will be remembered as heroes. I know it won’t bring them back, but maybe this will give at least some meaning to their deaths.”
As soon as Trigger Happy departed, Scold trotted next to Cold Shower and sat with her in front of Gauss’ tombstone. The mare was crying in silence; the two ponies were more than comrades, and the loss had been a bad blow for the paladin.
“He was a good friend... you know, even when he acted like an ass...” Shower was having a really hard time, trying to hold back her sobs as she spoke.
The scribe nodded, wrapping a hoof around the mare’s neck. “Yes, he really cared about ponies. He knew what was important...” His stare wandered across the graves. Four. Two paladins and two acolytes. The Rangers probably owed Puppy more than that, but it felt hard to accept it. Still, he didn’t want to blame the griffon for that, it simply didn’t feel right. “We lost many good ponies, today. Acolyte Sugar Flavor and Scribe Scroll were still so young. I’ll have to inform their parents.”
Cold Shower sighed, tears were now running down her muzzle. “Scold, please... tell me it was worth it. I lost so many friends... I lost the pony I loved. Tell me... tell me they didn’t waste their lives.”
“We are just ponies, Shower. We do what we can to make this land a better place day by day. The records say that in the last generation, in the Big 52’s settlements cutie marks involving traditional works like masonry, farming and arts are slightly growing... maybe things are getting better, and maybe our foals will see a greener Equestria...” The old scribe looked at Puppy’s grave. “And maybe, one day, there will be again a place where foals like Puppy will be free to play and make friends... who knows...”
Henrietta rubbed her eyes as she left Puppy’s grave and trotted towards the beach, looking at the waves. The young mercenary checked that nopony was looking at her and when she was sure of being alone, she took Silky Tail out from a bag, hugging the doll and hiding her face in the pink plushie.
“Don’t worry sis. Tomorrow will be a better day.”
Footnote: Level up! (20) No wait. You’re dead. Sorry kid, better luck next time.
New Quest Perk unlocked: Filly Luck - Requirements: Level 8, Minimum Luck of 7. “Alright, we were just surrounded, okay? And the droids were all over the place, okay? And we got, like, five shots left, okay? Then all of a sudden, we hear a ruckus from downstairs and the next thing we know is that half the robots were brutally demolished piece by piece by Celestia-knows-who! With a stone! Real story, man, honest!” Occasionally, when facing robots or feral ghouls, you could find some groups of them already dead, brutally killed with a stone. Go Puppy!
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 Nyerguds, 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 ^_^