Fallout Equestria: Manehattan Noir
A pale mare with puffy eyes, a mane styled into an austere bun, dressed in a business suit took another sip of coffee, zoomed her gaze on a surrounding office cell, sighed and tapped the terminal keyboard. She kept her personal diary there, a bleak story of a life of an office clerk.
“I am afraid of that mare I met again yesterday. We seem to live in the same block and I am afraid of her. Between her black hoodie and pierced ear, she looks menacing and seductive at the same time. What kind of adult mare would dress like that? What’s her profession? Not that she looked like a some kind of drug addict to me. She’s just... sinister. All to herself. Not the kind you would talk to on the street. A couple of days before she came to our office, talked to superiors. They talked like she is a some sort of an authority. I wonder, what’s her business in there? What the hell is her business in there? I have right to know.”
* * *
The Manehattan University was actually a castle, old enough to be called history, decorated with carved wood and stained glasses. This temple of science marveled in pride and honor and did its best to broadcast its superiority into the mind of any pony who ever entered its chambers. The Manehattan University was not one of those one-day modern universities for the rich and beautiful youth of Equestria, and both the students and the professors still remembered what the word “academia” actually meant. For a student it did not matter what kind of life you live in the outside, but inside, you were obliged to wear an old-fashioned formal suit, which were supposed to keep students’ thoughts in boundaries of strictly academic academic aspirations.
That’s why anypony who turned up to be awake at this late hour, immediately paid attention to a dark orange mare, with crimson tomboy mane, cut to cover half of mare’s face, dressed in a black hoodie and with an unspeakably pierced ear. She trotted through corridors, looking right before herself, without greeting anypony or taking her time to enjoy the views of a really fascinating medieval equestrian architecture. She headed right to the chancellor’s office, which overlooked the central garden, finely cut and still remarkably green, despite the rise of Manehattan industry.
The Chancellor, a stately elderly unicorn stallion with a neat gray-haired beard in a purple robe had been waiting in the corridor. His kept his usual dignified posture, but his eyes displayed anxiety. He turned towards the sound of the mare’s hoofsteps.
"Miss Seed? Welcome back to your alma mater. I wish we could meet under different circumstances”
"Greetings, Chancellor. I am afraid my outfit is not quite appropriate for visiting universities for a leisure. Especially, before dawn. However, I believe you have not invited me for a leisure sight-seeing, right?”
"You are absolutely right, Barbara. We have a problem of an utmost importance. Please, come in to my office.” The Chancellor opened the wooden door with his telekinesis and gestured the mare in.
The Chancellor’s office featured a huge oak table with a terminal, a massive paperweight and several books, way too big to lift with teeth only - a courtesy of unicorn telekinesis. A fine brown cigarette lay in an ashtray, emitting sweet cherry aroma all around the room.
“Please take a seat, we will be served some coffee in a minute. Till then, please let me introduce you to the details of our situation.”
“I’m all yours, Chancellor.” The mare sat down on a cushion in the corner and looked towards the elderly stallion.
“Basically, we have a case of burglary in one of our archives,” the stallion said and the mare noticed that his eyes displayed something else than anxiety - apparently, he did not sleep all night.
The mare arched an eyebrow. “Burglary in archive? Have somepony had a sudden thirst for knowledge? Why have you not you called the police?”
The Chancellor sighed. “Miss Seed, as a private detective, you have gained a reputation for your discretion, which is remarkable, regarding your behavior during your time at the university."
The mare smiled. “Yes, our attempt at faculty socialist revolution was quite a show, right?”
“Yes, Barbara, quite a show that Her Highness made a lot of fun of,” the Chancellor did not sound amused at all.
Barbara Seed, however, could not help but smile for a moment. At this moment a door has been knocked on, and a young unicorn mare entered, levitating a dish with served coffee and still warm baking. The Chancellor thanked her and kept silent until she left.
The detective mare turned her muzzle as serious as she could. “So, discretion, right? What’s this all about?”
“As your probably know, Her Majesty has entrusted the University with several secrets we kept with diligence through generations.” The mare remembered that Princess Celestia was really old. No one knew how old, actually. To ponies, she was as eternal as the sun itself, although every university student knew about the Era of Discord and the Founding Of Equestria from the history books. Elder ponies still kept calling her by her royal title, despite her recent abdication of the throne. “We had a break to the Royal Archive, miss Seed, and some very sensitive documents are believed to be missing. Unfortunately, the Archive Keeper has been found dead, so we can not tell what exactly has been stolen."
At these words the mare instantly turned into a professional she were. “A break to the Royal Archive? I believe you must have a complex arcane security grid installed there, don’t you?”
The Chancellor leaned back. “Yes, we have a security system, provided by affiliates of both Ministry of Arcane Sciences and Ministry of Wartime Technology. But this night the whole system has been shut down from the outside. The university security department believes the arcane network has been attacked and our specialists are currently tracking its source.”
The mare looked surprised. “Well, now I see somepony has put a lot of effort into this burglary. What about the crime scene? What have you discovered?”
The question apparently made the stallion look even more tired than he was. “Nothing. You see, after Littlehorn, our University has doubled the night security staff for a case of full-on assault. However, whoever has done this, was clean and quiet. When the security grid turned back on and sounded an alarm, it was too late. You see, there was no guard inside the Archive Room.”
Now the mare looked shocked. “For Celestia’s sake, Chancellor, this could have been zebras! You must contact the Ministry of Awesome, not me!”
The Chancellor made a wry face. “I’ve thought of that, Barbara. But we still need a confirmation on that. No one has seen or heard about any zebra that close to Manehattan yet. Until then, I would like this case not to leave walls of this university.”
The communications device on the Chancellor’s table rang. The stallion pressed the button.
“Mr. Chancellor, sir. This is a security department. We have tracked the source of the attack.”
* * *
The security room was filled with cigarette smoke and stale air. When the Chancellor asked to have windows opened, it feeled like a hurricane of freshness. Every single security pony looked much worse than the Chancellor, predictably. Dark shadows under bloodshot eyes looked like a part of their uniform this morning.
A security officer approached the two. “Steel Sword,” the Chancellor said, “I believe you are acquainted with miss Seed?”
“Yes, sir, we graduated together” the stallion replied, and turned towards the mare, “hi, Babs! Long time no see, huh? Wish we met at a different circumstances."
“Hello, Sword,” Babs replied, “you’re right, this is a bad moment for dating a girl. Now, show me, what have you got?”
“Now then, I believe mr. Chancellor told you about the arcane attack? We’ve got the source." The stallion led the two towards a big screen on the wall with a map and all sorts of shapes and symbols flashing across it. “They have orchestrated a very sophisticated attack pattern, which led us to each and every corner of Equestria. If they had a timer on every attacking terminal, they would have become completely invisible to us. However, they preferred to send an activation command to the entire network by hoof. We believe that the command has originated from the industrial district of Manehattan, and namely, the abandoned Rammelmare facility.” The stallion looked proud.
“Good job, Steel,” Babs and the Chancellor said simultaneously. The Chancellor allowed himself the first smile this morning. “Now, miss Seed, it looks like we have a trail now?”
Babs nodded. “And if we are really lucky, they might still be there. But I’d not rely on that.”
The Chancellor frowned. “Good. Then you should go there. We have a Sky Bandit here. Steel will have somepony to take you closer to Rammelmare. We don’t want to attract attention, so you’ll have to walk there on your hooves, Barbara. Now go and tell me whatever you find there.”
* * *
The Sky Bandit, a pegasus-driven aerial car with an autonomous engine, capable of carrying up to half a dozen passengers took off into dark skies. Babs seed turned on her leg-worn arcane device, a gift from her old friends, the heads of Stable-Tec. They called it a Pip-Buck prototype. It still was not fully functional, but the basic arcane matrix was already operational. The device featured a pre-loaded map, a navigation system, a radio communications device and a cutting-edge arcane prototypes: EFS beta and SATS version 1.
The former was actually an organic detector, which emitted a high-pitched beep when any life form larger than a rat appeared in some proximity of the device.
The latter, however, was a true masterpiece - SATS was a spell which somehow boosted the reflexes of its operator. Apple Bloom told Babs once, that they are trying to develop a spell complex which could actually save ponies from bullets. Stable-Tec decided that ponies can not wear full armor all the time, while the protection has to be permanent. Thus, Stable-Tec concentrated their efforts not on protecting ponies from shots, but on not letting ponies get shot in first place. Awareness and swiftness were their eventual aims: to tell a pony that enemy is near and to let a pony make the first shot and make it one hundred percent deadly. This task proved itself complicated, Apple Bloom complained, as Stable-Tec still could not make the device distinguish an enemy from a friend, and still could not make it “freeze time” completely, only slow it down to a certain degree. Babs dubbed the spell “the double-time”, as it effectively let her own reflexes to get doubled.
The communication module rang. Babs looked at the calling cipher, but it said “unknown." So she tapped an “accept” button.
“Miss Seed?” The voice in the communicator was distorted and inequine: the caller definitely used a some sort of an arcane encryption device.
The voice made a chuckling noise. “Names mean nothing. If you desperately need to call me something, you may call me Wooden Toaster."
“What the hell kind of name is that?” Babs did not like when anypony tried to play games with her.
“I told you names mean nothing. Now, the ponies I represent know you are hunting some valuable information from the Royal Archive. Once you retrieve this information, we want you to handle it over to us.”
Babs snorted. “Then tell your ponies to go stick their hooves up their rumps. All four, preferably. No way I’m going to break my contract and if you already know so much, you should have known that too."
“Very well then”, the voice replied, “then I presume you would not mind if I extend your walk a bit. To let you have more time for... reconsideration.”
In a split second, an explosion boomed at the front end of a Sky Bandit, killing a pegasus driver instantly. The vehicle, driven by a weight of a dead body through amplified steering, dived abruptly and started descending, sending Babs into the air inside the cabin. Then the mare smashed into the front wall painfully. Suppressing her urge to panic, she looked from the window and saw concrete houses and asphalt streets, promising a harsh landing. She had to do something!
The machine continued descending, with a most unpleasant roaring sound. Abrupt change of air pressure caused blood to make noise in Babs’ ears, filling her vision with red and messing up her thinking. She reached for a safety chute, and was not surprised not to find it there. Obviously, somepony had purposefully removed it. She had to jump without one! But it was still too high to survive such a fall. If only she could jump at the very last moment...
The uncontrollable Sky Bandit now entered a downright fall. Babs could already see the empty bottles left on the rooftops. Just a couple more seconds before the impact... Now!
Babs triggered the SATS prototype spell and then the time slowed down to the point where one could mix up a falling wagon with an elevator. The sense of fall disappeared, but the vision remained all red. When there were only several meters left, Babs jumped as strongly as she could, pushing herself away from the falling machine. In the viscous SATS time continuum she saw ground slowly coming closer, and she knew that this was not true: in reality, she careered towards the ground with a considerable speed. So she did her best to regroup, as much as it was possible in a free fall and then she hit the ground with a thud.
The worst thing about SATS was that it stretched the feeling of pain, too. So Babs had a nice time enjoying pain sweeping all across her body as she entered into a roll, accidentally hitting a button on her PipBuck, ending the spell abruptly. The time returned to its usual speed and a powerful explosion blasted her into the air again, smashing her into the wall. Then the world turned all dark.
* * *
Coming back was not pleasant. As Babs’ vision cleared, the pain returned, and through throbbing noise in her ears she discerned distant sirens of police or fire vehicles. Probably both. There was no time for sweet talks with police, so Babs decided to leave explanations to the Chancellor. She had a mission to complete.
She rose up on her hooves, turned her Pip-Buck map back on. Surprisingly, it was not a long walk from here to Rammelmare. If anypony were still there, they must be alerted by the explosion.
The streets in the industrial district were clear and deserted. As far as the War was from here, it still had its impact on Manehattan. Babs took a painkiller pill and started trotting towards the facility.
The dawn still did not break when she approached her target. Babs considered that a good luck, which was bad, as Babs knew well that luck was a finite resource.
She took position on a rooftop, overlooking the facility. There were floodlights here and there. Unfortunately, the facility was big enough to house a small army. And it did. Through a small spyglass, Babs spotted soldiers, trucks, crates and a whole lot of commotion. Interestingly, there was no insignia, no emblem, even no cutie marks: the uniform, the vehicles - everything was blank.
“A whole regiment of blank flanks, huh?” Babs thought to herself and chuckled. At least they were not zebras. Whoever they were, though, they did not belong here.
Babs was not a spy, let alone an infiltrator. She had some experience in surveillance, though. Infiltrating a facility was a lot like stalking, only there were many targets instead of one and they were not moving around so much. Babs remembered the drill: stick to the shadows, stay out of their field of view, move slowly or stay quiet and crouch behind cover. But if she had to get her hooves dirty, she knew that a head-shot is a lethal take-down. She checked her pistol and went in.
Navigating through the courtyard was not difficult. The commotion kept guards’ vigilance low. The EFS spell beeped now and then into Babs’ ear. From a chatter the mare found out that the whole company was preparing for evacuation. The soldiers were well-armed, but not exactly disciplined. Crouching behind another crate, Babs tried to decipher who they may be. The lack of insignia messed everything up. Could they be the Royal Army? Then why do they not wear their uniforms at their inner ground? Spies? Babs really doubted that Zebras could hire a whole regiment of ponies and make them act in Manehattan. It was much safer to double-defect here. Maybe a private military corporation? Babs has heard something about these establishments, but they still were quite uncommon - between zebras and Celestia sympathizers, Luna
did not trust private contractors to perform military duties.
The command center seemed to be deployed in a large hangar. Ponies were coming in and out, but whatever happened inside, she could not see. Still, as interesting, as this all was, she was here not for intelligence duties, but for a information retrieval. Basically, she was a thief now. “So much for a private detective, huh?” she murmured to herself as she tried to plan her next move.
She needed to find out where did they keep the documents. To do that, she needed to ask somepony really nice, a pony who would definitely know it and a pony who nopony would start seeking instantly.
Then she saw him. A stallion with a keyring with a young soldier following, apparently receiving orders. “Must be the intendants,” Babs reckoned. She could not take down a quartermaster, because his absence would immediately alarm the whole base. Why not try to tackle a junior, then?
“I have given all necessary orders,” Babs managed to hear from behind her cover, “now I want you to horse around there to make sure they comply properly."
“Yes sir!” The junior soldier sounded really young.
“A rookie,” Babs thought, “must be still not believing he’s at war now.”
The intendants parted ways, and Babs traced the rookie’s direction to a much darker warehouse. There was no door, so it had to be on the other side. Obviously, the soldier had to walk all the way around the building. What Babs still did not know, is what side would he chose - the bright or the dark side.
The soldier, though, took his time, turned around with a strange expression on his muzzle and then suddenly turned towards a dark side. Babs arched her eyebrow, puzzled. The reason of such irrational choice became clear soon, as the soldier undid his uniform and took a leak. Babs managed to notice his cutie mark - a chamomile.
The mare showed her gratitude to let the colt finish his business, then timed the SATS spell. Then she dashed into a roll towards the soldier. A thin metal wire embraced the rookie’s neck as the spell went off. The stallion wheezed.
“Try to scream and I’ll cut your head off. Nod if you understand.” Babs whispered into his ear.
The soldier nodded. “What... who are you?”
“I am your fire inspector,” the mare replied, “tell me what I want to know and I won’t sue you for inappropriate fire safety."
“Yes sir!” he croaked.
“You guys have stolen something tonight from the Manehattan University. I want to know where you left it.”
“I... I don’t know...” Babs stretched the wire and a thin line of blood appeared on the colt’s neck.
“You’re being a bad pony tonight. I think you should cool your head a bit."
“The... The Shadow team has brought a package. A paper bag, see? A special importance one, they said. We put it into the safe. Warehouse, second floor. Don’t kill me, sir!”
“How many guards are there, boy?”
“No one...” Babs stretched the wire a little more and the colt started to suffocate.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Two at the main door, and one more at the safe. There is a back door, sir. One more is there, probably sleeping.”
“Good. Now stay here and don’t leave. If I find you left, next time you’ll be leaking as a filly.”
The soldier started to nod vigorously. Babs loosened the wire and thumped the soldier’s temple with her PipBuck device. The colt went limp.
“It’s m’am, sucker.”
* * *
“Shadow team, huh? How unimaginative." Babs made her way towards the back door. The door was locked, but that was no obstacle for a private detective. In a couple of seconds, the lock crunched and let go. Inside, a stallion snored on a cushion, with his rifle standing in a corner. Such rifle is way too long to be shot with teeth, Babs reckoned. He would not have time to set it up. The mare came up close to the sentinel and whispered loudly,
The sentinel opened his eyes and saw two rear hooves dashing into his face. The stallion fell on his back and joined his junior comrade in the land of dreams.
“Gotta love this joke. Never gets old.”
The interior of the warehouse was humid, dimly lit and deserted, true to the colt’s words. The lights hummed above, occasionally cracking. Navigating around all sorts of wooden and metal crates, the detective mare tried to think up some way to distract the safe guard. The EFS spell beeped. Babs hid behind the crate and tried to find the source. So far, nopony was there. Then she got it: the pony must be right above her. Babs smiled and climbed atop the crate, and poked the ceiling a couple of times. Nothing. She poked again. There! She heard footsteps above.
Babs positioned herself by the doorway. “Wow now. What kind of sentinel would leave his post that easy?” she thought to herself, “but so far the only professionals I noticed are that ghostly Shadow team. It feels like this whole regiment has been attached to them as a support. Why? In case the burglary went awry? Would they really start a full-on skirmish in the middle of Manehattan? If so, what’s so special about those documents?”
A pistol barrel emerged in the doorway, then a stallion went in, passed by Babs and went on. Babs triggered the SATS and once again retrieved her wire. The soldier suffocated rapidly. The mare dragged his body behind the crate. From now on she had only so much time before others would start looking for the guard. However, Babs knew better than to rush. She paced all the way upstairs.
The safe was there, situated in a small room, almost a closet. Alarmed by such an easy infiltration, Babs proceeded cautiously, ready for an alarm at any moment. However, she made it to the safe in silence. It seemed like these soldiers, whoever they were, did not expect following that far.
The mare knew that guards below could come up at any moment. That made her nervous. Her mane sticked to her face and annoyed her. The safe dials ticked ever so loud as she rotated them, listening carefully for a slightest change of sound. Babs effectively trapped herself now: whoever comes in, there would be no hiding in this closet. Between evacuation preparations and missing soldiers, Babs’ rump would be on fire any moment. She could almost hear the clock ticking into her ear and she knew she did not have much time left.
Finally, the mechanism gave up and Babs exhaled.
* * *
A taxicab cart navigated through empty avenues in circles in case of pursuit. When the driver saw Babs’ detective license and a pistol grip, he became quite cooperative. Many drivers in Manehattan avoided paying taxes for a taxi license and took risks in favor of a dubious benefit. Babs smiled to herself, remembering driver’s face - the stallion would rather get lost that instant, if only Babs was not already inside the cab. Despite the wartime, Manehattan still had no curfews - a courtesy of being far away from a front line. However, even during better times walking at night in Manehattan was begging for troubles. Now you could easily get killed only for your body to be discovered no earlier than after dawn. Or never at all, if you were stupid enough to venture into darker, narrower lanes.
It was not until Babs climber over Rammelmare’s fence and trotted a few block away that she heard shouts at the facility. There were no alarms, though - the regiment tried to keep their heads as low as possible - but there were dogs. Babs had no doubts the dogs were trained - and hungry.
In half an hour Babs decided the pursuers lost them and told the driver to head towards the University. She retrieved the package and examined it. It was a new blank paper bag, which apparently contained a book or something. What was inside of it what was worth hiring a small army and a team of professional infiltrators? That voice in the communicator - Wooden Toaster he called himself, right? - said he represented some ponies. There were at least two sides hunting these materials, and both sides definitely had resources and quite an urge to get them. It was obvious that Wooden Toaster was not aiming to kill Babs, he apparently needed her. Not that Babs used to survive assassinations on a daily basis, but an adrenaline rush after the fall allowed her to keep going. Now she knew it was no time to relax, but she could feel a treacherous weakness spilling inside her limbs. She had a particular dislike for booby-trapped vehicles.
She opened a paperbag. Inside was a very old remains of a book. Its cover was missing and pages tried to fall of, so Babs had to tuck them back. The book was written in ancient Equestrian - a hieroglyphic writing, constituted of stars, horseshoes and all other kinds of arcane symbols, invented at the times of Founding Of Equestria. Babs knew that at those time the Three Pony Tribes - the pegasi, the unicorns and the earth ponies - were effectively separate nations, and consequently had separate languages. Hieroglyphic writing was a first step of forming a common Equestrian culture, as every Tribe could read it, while still speaking in its own language.
The manuscript, however, has apparently been a subject of a research - here and there Babs saw paragraphs, calligraphically written in modern Equestrian in between lines of an ancient text. Babs reckoned the paragraphs were translated by some scholar at the Royal Archive, probably the Archive Keeper himself. Babs leafed through the old pages and saw diagrams, schemes, constellations and thoroughly decorated symbols. Apparently, the text was a some sort of a magic book, and it was something more than a simple spellbook. It looked more like a research report? Or a guide to something? In the middle spread of the script Babs found a particularly large illustration - an arcane schematic, full of symbols. Bewildered, Babs discovered a most recognizable symbol in all of Equestria: the sun cutie mark of Princess Celestia! There was Princess Luna’s moon and Princess Cadence’s heart shaped cutie-marks. There were others: a shield, a book, a drop and many more. The symbols were arranged in arcane circles, interconnected with lines of different colors. In the middle of them was a large and meticulously detailed symbol: a quill and an inkwell.
Whatever this book contained, it regarded the royal family. The mare suddenly imbued Chancellor’s concern regarding not letting the case go beyond the walls of the University Archive. In her hooves was a document of a national importance. Babs opened a random page and started to read.
“Oh my gosh!”
* * *
The University courtyard looked even more deserted at this hour. Lamplights, hidden in
greenery created a dim, surreal illumination and one could easily forget that the courtyard is situated in a middle of an industrial city, if only Babs did not know the whole territory was stuffed with all kind of arcane sensor devices which controlled automated watering, surveillance and who knew what else. Shame this azure web of technology proved to be so vulnerable.
The EFS device kept silent and Babs paced between hedges and stone flowerbeds, her head covered with the black hood of her hoodie. Here and there she saw wooden benches, outlined with light spots.
The large wooden doors to the central building were open. In silence, the detective mare entered the lobby. She expected somepony to meet her, but the wide corridors remained empty. At night, all corridors in the campus were lit with sparse auxiliary luminescent lamps: the university represented a mixture of cutting edge technology and history. The lobby featured stone walls and polished wooden floor, while metal handrails were decorated with glass sheets. Several guest information terminals, a cola vending machine, and a large circular counter with several terminals furnished the room. An impressive emblem of the University decorated the wall across the lobby, with the motto, “Scientam simul”, inscribed with gold. Babs reached the stairs and ascended to the second floor. As she walked towards the Chancellor’s office, the EFS beeped once, then again. And again.
Babs sniffed. Something was wrong.
When she opened the door to a dark office, she spotted a pony figure at the window. Then she heard a familiar crunchy processed voice:
“Welcome back, miss Seed."
The stallion tapped the light on the Chancellor’s table, and then Babs saw her assassin and could not help but gasp.
First of all, this was a mare. A lemon-coloured pegasus mare with a striped yellow and green spiky mane which covered one her eye. The visible other eye was oversized and wild. Her muzzle looked like it has been cut from ear to ear and Babs could have sworn she saw a set of fangs replacing her teeth! The mare wore a a collar with a some sort of arcane device embedded in it. Shocked, Babs understood that the mare actually had an encryptor implanted right into her flesh! When the scary mare spoke again, her mouth tried to open, but instead it distorted spasmodically and an artificially stallion-like voice came out from the device.
“We are glad you finally decided to join us.”
The doors behind closed with a click and Babs heard two weapons cocked. Shotguns. Two more pegasi stepped out of the shadows behind Toaster.
“What is going on here? Where is the University Chancellor?” Babs asked firmly, simultaneously evaluating pegasi weapons. Silenced saddle-mounted automatic rifles, military issue. Oh, so wrong...
“Our friend Chancellor has suddenly wished to take a... vacation tonight.” Wooden Toaster croaked. “Now if you please, handle over the book.”
So, they know this is a book?
Babs did not move. “Who are you and what is happening around?”
“Miss Seed,” the artificial voice sounded annoyed. Or was it in her face? “You’ve been dragged in between grinders so big they won’t even notice you crush. I thought you were wise enough to understand this already. You are merely a tool in a much bigger game. The materials you’re holding are bigger than you, bigger than zebras, bigger than Celestia, hold them over now and we will let you go alive. You will forget whatever happened tonight, and even if you don’t you’ll be arrested for a theft of a state secret. Wartime laws are strict.” The mare grinned and Babs shivered at the sight.
Babs spat on the floor. “Whoever you are, freak, I told you I don’t break my contracts.”
The lemon mare looked sad. “Then it is time to get to the bad things."
As the pegasi started to lift their rifles, Babs tapped her PipBuck device and a deafening explosion boomed behind her, knocking down the ponies with shotguns. And then Babs entered into a slow motion.
When the pegasi pointed their rifles, she already was not there, moving sideways with a pistol in her teeth and placing one shot after another. She saw a bullet entering a pegasus’ head, a spurt of blood emerging behind him, and saw him dropping on the floor like a meatbag. She saw another one slowly turning his torso towards her. Too slowly against a mouth-gripped pistol: Babs catched his wide eyes in the iron sight and clenched her teeth. Another shot boomed and pegasus’ head jerked back. Babs stopped her momentum and charged towards Wooden Toaster. The freaky mare did not seem to move but she was looking directly at Babs with her wild eye, still grinning. There was an oak desk between them, so Babs jumped. The whole table turned over and the detective mare fell on her target, knocking her off her hooves. The spell went off as Babs spat the gun away and thumped Toaster’s face with her hoof.
“You’ve bucked a wrong apple-tree, bitch” Babs hissed. “Now answer me, freak!”
“You earth ponies are inferior.” The crazy mare replied through the collar device and lashed her hoof across Bab’s chest. Her hoodie opened, cut with some razor Babs did not see, and the paperbag fell over grinning Toaster, blood dripping from her temple. “You never look above your noggin.”
A bright flash illuminated the room and then Wooden Toaster was gone. Babs blinked.
Since when do pegasi cast teleportation spell?
Something was still wrong, Babs could feel it in the back of her head.
“You never look above your noggin.”
Babs looked at the ceiling. A wired device blinked rapidly with a small red light.
Babs charged. The room exploded.
* * *
Amber whiskey glistened in a glass. Soft music streamed across the bar. Scootaloo looked gorgeous this night, in her leather jacket and a collar -.quite a daring outfit for a Stable-Tec vice-president. Always a rebel.
“How’s your eye?” The purple-mane mare asked tenderly.
“Nurses say it would take a week or so.” Babs smiled and fixed her black eyepatch. “Would be good as new, they say. I think I just look even more badass now.”
Scootaloo chuckled. “Right. It could have been much worse. Flying out of the window of the second floor is a pegasi trick, you know.”
“Next time I’ll set up a ladder.” Babs took a sip of whiskey through a straw.
“Just make sure you’re alive. That would be enough for me.” The mares were best friends since childhood. Even wartime could not separate them for long.
“It’s a pity the old man didn't make it." Babs said sadly. “He was the Chancellor when I was just a criminology student. A great old buck, I tell you.”
“He was a good buck, Babs. He knew somepony were coming for him. It was him who called the police and persuaded them to set up an ambush in case you needed help. And he gave in to keep those bandits unalarmed. He was a hero, if you ask me.”
Babs nodded. “He did right, Scoots. The materials they wanted should never fall into anypony’s hooves.”
Scootaloo looked at her friend. “What are you going to do with them? I get it so you stashed some random old newspapers and a couple of translated pages into that paperbag?”
Babs smiled back. “Exactly. The ones I could read and was sure they would make no harm. As far as I could understand, it was a some sort of an introduction section. I think I’ll try to bury the rest as far as I can. If Celestia could not destroy these materials, then there must be a reason for that. But it won’t be me who put this book into anypony’s hooves.”
Scootaloo finished her drink and started to stand up. “Then let it be so. There is only one thing I still don’t understand. How did you know there was an ambush?”
Babs winked. “A cigarette, Scoots. The old man always smoked ‘em. Said they help to concentrate. There was no smoke.”
* * *
“One paperbag, priority delivery. Address, m’am?” A wall-eyed pegasus mare smiled to Babs.
“Northern Equestria, Polarstern. Dedicated mailbox number 173. Keep until claimed. Here is an account number, payment for next two hundred years. Courtesy of Stable-Tec, inc.”
“Thank you, m’am." The mare accepted an account card.
“Thank you too, miss Doo. Have a nice day."
Babs exited the post office, lit a cigarette, took a long drag and looked towards the sky. The sun was shining like never before. Life went on.
Thank you a lot for reading my first story ever. In case you liked the setting I would like to encourage everyone to write more stories about wartime Equestria. Maybe even about detective Babs, why not?
The story of the ancient book goes on in Fallout Equestria: The Fossil by Lucky Ticket and me, make sure to check that out! ;)
My Little Pony is a property of Hasbro inc.
Fallout Equestria universe created by KKat. (You’re just amazing, people!)
Make sure to check out Wooden Toaster’s music on Youtube, this brony makes adorable songs!
And, also, here is the Babs’ picture which inspired the whole story:
She’s great, isn’t she?
You may also write your comments to me, I will surely reply:
From Russia with love,