Fallout Equestria: The Fossil

by alnair


Green Line

Fallout Equestria: The Fossil.
by Lucky Ticket and Alnair.
prologue story "Manehattan Noir" can be found here:
http://www.fimfiction.net/story/66953/fallout-equestria-manehattan-noir

Chapter 1.

Green line.

*        *        *

“...And remember, trainees. Red - is positive and blue - is negative. Just like in a shower tub: you’d never get burned with cold water.”

 

“A green one! And thick, like a liana. Where did it come from?” Being a Stable electrician for two years already, I’ve learned pretty much every its corner, including communication tunnels and vents. I’ve seen a lot of things, but a dark green line, crawling along the vent wall was something new. Even the fact, that I’ve never worked in Vent 9 before, as nothing has been wrong here for severals years already, did not make what I saw any less weird.

        However, as weird as it was, I had to finish my job at the site. I’ve inserted an amber gem in a socket, fixed it with a clamp tool, closed the junction box and hit the power switch. Through the box’s glass I could see the gem start emitting a warm light and hear electricity start humming along the cords and ventilation system start working somewhere below.

        “Hey, Copper!” I screamed down the shaft, metal reverbating with echoes.

        “Huh? I didn’t touch anything!” reverberations made my trainee’s high-pitched voice sound even higher.

        “You surely didn’t, ‘cause it was me who launched the circuitry. Do you have the reference book with you? If so, find page 119 and tell me whatever it says about green cables, one third o’hoof in diameter and with green insulation.”

        “Just a se-e-c.” My trainee Copper Wire stretched vowels in such a funny way so you could easily get it: she does all her best to please me. Actually, she treated me with some excessive care and attention, dropping all sorts of tiny hints I preferred to ignore. On a bright side, I could afford behave with her in a way like I’ve just got my cutie-mark, too. Even though I actually was her superior, I had not wish to be a role model for this little filly.

        Despite my expectations, my trainee kept a long silence. She knew the reference book almost by heart, but now she apparently has been searching it attentively to give me an answer as exact as possible. Despite her young age and playful behavior, she took her job really seriously.

        Finally, a voice came from below.

        

“Dodo, you’re going to be surprised!” Copper shouted joyfully, “there is no such thing! I’ve searched both the book and the master’s abstract, but still, it just does not exist!”

        “Then there is no such cable dangling before me and I am asleep.” I could really use some sleep now. Even a lounge in the Atrium, accompanied with Octavia’s cello howls would be just fine. “Alright, let me get it clean... Looking for markings.. There it is!”

        “Go on!” Copper shouted.

        “It’s NS-35 mod 2”

        “That’s some bollocks, Dodo! I’ve got the best reference book, extended version! There is no NS index at all. The best diameter match is CmC-34 mod 1,2 and 3. Does your one have a rubber insulation?”

        “No, it’s fabric, and a rough one” I replied.

        “Congratulations, Dodo. You are asleep, hanging on your carbine and muttering Daring Do-style nonsense. Actually, our shift is long over and you’re still collecting dust up there. Come back down.”

        “Oh, come on, just release the safety cord and I’ll take a peek, where this green thing leads to.”

        “Okie dokie...”

        “Right. I’m going up! Tell Short Circuit not to start domino party without me!”

        “Will do!” My trainee’s reply chased me from below.

 

Right after Cooper Wire went down back into the Stable chambers, I opened my PipBuck’s microphone and recorded an audio note: “November 5th, 20:35. Evening shift is over. Shift staff: senior electrician Dazzling Dusk, trainee Copper Wire. Problem: short circuit in junction box “9-12”. Result: problem resolved. Three rotary switches replaced, increased capacity filtering gem installed. Note: discovered green cable marked “NS-35 mod 2”, reference description absent. Intention: go up the shaft to determine its destination. Note over.”
After I closed the microphone I latched safety hook on a cord over my head and started my ascension.

*        *        *

A safety hook is a really useful thing up in the vertical shafts. There are cramps on the shaft walls, so you can latch your safe hook on them, pull yourself up a meter or about so, then latch the hook on a next one and get higher and higher…
To make my ascension more fun, I tuned my PipBuck radio receiver to Cashmire Wave’s broadcast. She’s our domestic DJ, who persuaded the Overmare to add tiny two-hour marathon of modern music to our usual all-classic playlist of Stable’s “Symphony” radio station. Now I could get some twenty minutes of energizing hoof-n-roll and flank-swing. It’s not that I hate classical music, but its constant, ominous presence at the Atrium, corridors, lounges and even restrooms was, actually, annoying. The Overmare was quite old-fashioned in her music tastes, as well as many other elders of the Stable. And I wanted something more progressive – as much as this word could be applied to a music written two hundred years back.
The cramps ended almost at the very ceiling of the shaft, the cable went into the wall, and I saw a locked airtight door next to it. Pulling myself up and pushing the door aside, I managed to roll myself into a high and narrow corridor, painted grey and soaked with rust of all sorts of metal bars sticking out of the walls every now and then. High humidity caused a thick fog over the concrete floor, the green cable went on by the wall and dim lights flickered under the corridor’s high ceiling.
        To the left was a doorway leading into a stretched room, with cracked tiled floor and filled with remains of iron beds. After scavenging this long-uninhabited place, I’ve received a couple of mane and tail bobby pin boxes, some pre-war coins and a very old, dark badge with a “3rd degree plumber” inscription on it. Wow, I’ve started feeling like a true archaeologist! Aside from my loot, there was just some useless junk, like smashed bottles and rusty tin cans, so I decided to get back into the corridor.
It was next to second corridor light where my safety cord stretched so hard I had to take it off and tie to a nearest bar of metal. Next to the fifth light (and, unfortunately, there were no more lights further) I tripped over some pipe, and it did hurt a lot, so I had to turn my PipBuck light on. It helped not to smash my head into a girder when horizontal corridor started to rise and the green cable disappeared between the wall and the ceiling.
I’ve never seen such solution anywhere in the Stable before. The cables usually were covered with plastic boxes or hanged on hooks, but not put into a narrow space, which not every hoof can get it back from; that looked way too amateur to me. The feeling that this corridor does not belong to the Stable came to me already when I’ve pulled myself up from that shaft. Not there were no doubts left: these quarters were not built by Stable-Tec. One mystery now followed another and I hastened up, doing my best not to miss the green cable, which now went along the ceiling.
A welcoming voice of Cashmire Wave has said goodbye to faithful listeners and the Canterlot Symphonic Orchestra entered the broadcast. I turned the radio off and went into thinking.
Where have I managed to get myself to? A layer of dust under my hooves suggested nopony has been here for a long time. Could it be that I am the first pony to enter these quarters since they were built?
      As I went higher up the corridor, it became more and more chilling; I could even feel a slight draft. At least there was no fog this high up. To my disappointment, the “non-Stable” corridor ended abruptly and turned into a pretty high vertical well: concrete rings and familiar cramps and the ever-present enigmatic green cable, still going higher up. The trouble was that I have left my safety cord behind.
            No way was I going to sit down on my flank, chilled by draft and burning with curiosity. There were no cables I could not trace in MY Stable! So it was the first time I used my wings that day, as weak as they were useful from time to time.
            Wings. Of all the ponies in the Stable, I was the only one pony in the whole Stable who had wings.  You see, I am basically the first and the only Pegasus of the Stable born in two hundred years. And this is really. Not. Fun. As a predictable consequence, some Stable dwellers called me mutant, a nature’s mistake and many, many other, less pleasant words. A couple of times it even came to physical confrontations – the last one ended with stabbing me with a horn and spending a week in the infirmary.  Even my name – Dodo – was actually a tease. According to the history books, that was the name of an extinct bird which was unable to fly. It ceased to exist a very long time ago, even before Equestria has been hit by a first balefire bomb. But should I really have been insulted by being compared to a bird, even if it could not fly?
   I pushed myself up with my wing flaps, used my forehooves to hang onto metal cramps, then went again and I again. I wished I could just fly all the way up to the top of the well.  It seemed infinitely long, just like Octavia’s “C-Dur cello concerto”, and also it was so narrow that my wing tips almost touched its walls. I had to rest two times, hanging on my safety hook and calming my breath down. A chilling sensation of draft, drilling my spine, disappeared, but exhaustion has stockpiled and it could only be removed by – oh yes! -  “SPECIAL choice” chocolate bar (with peanuts!) that I always had with me in my sleeve pocket. I always wondered why “SPECIAL” was always capitalized, but no one in our brigade knew, even our brigade master, Short Circuit.
          Hanging on my safety hook and munching on the chocolate bar, I wondered: why the hay am I ever going up there? Yes, I could see a hatch on the top, but what if it is welded or has a padlock on the other side? But there was the GREEN cable! There are only red, blue and black cables in the Stable, and some striped ones, painted in colors above – so I just could not help but get curious.

*                 *                 *

My head touched cold metal. I strained my rear legs and set my forehead against the hatch. It was so heavy that with all my efforts I could only lift it a centimeter high, not more. It seemed that its movement was restrained by its frame, in which the hatch sat firmly and deeply.
And then I got really angry. My safety hook unfastened, I strained all four of my legs and started flapping my wings in humid, foggy air. Basically, levitating a communication hatch using a pony’s head is a task for a grown-up unicorn with a strong telekinesis. I doubted Copper Wire could handle it. And there was I, all red and wet with tension, hanging over a Celestia-damned well with an iron pancake on my head! Half a second, maybe a whole second… Then the hatch dropped aside and I suddenly went up and rolled in face first. The world went dark before my eyes and I could feel my heart pounding in my head. I shut my eyes and waited for the sensation to go away.
When I opened and focused my eyes… I shrieked and recoiled in fear: a shapeless pile lay before my nose, emitting an unbearably nauseating reek. If I were less lucky, I’d fall down into the manhole and die at the bottom of the damned well, but I managed to keep standing on my four unbending legs and staring at the remains of somepony, who died here before me.
In the light of my Pip-Buck, I saw a bloated stallion, almost devoid of its equine appearance in ragged clothes of grey and green colour, a grey-haired elder; his neck had an unnatural twist and his leg was broken: I could see the bone protruding from the reamins of flesh. It seemed like the poor buck died right on the top of the hatch, trying to open it from above, and his weight prevented me from opening it from below. I have never seen dead ponies before, let alone so close, that’s why these rotting remains cause an expected effect: I felt sick. I blinked and tried to calm down, but both my headache, this disgusting stench and the very fact of facing death spasmed my stomach. The open hatch came in really handy...
Not that it helped much. I was shivering. I could feel the stench even if I breathed with my mouth and my brain urged me to run as fast as I could. But in given condition this was not an easy feat. First I raised my head to seize a new wave of sickness and then I started walking sideways, doing my best not to look at the corpse. I felt my body touching a cold, rough concrete wall and next step I got my hoof into a hole filled with ice-cold water! My PipBuck started clicking rapidly, signalling an excessive amount of radiation, confirming Stable scientists’ apprehensions: even two centuries were not enough for Equestria to get rid of the contamination.
I got up to my hooves and felt a warm blood running down my rear leg. I still felt sick. But despite this and the pain, looking almost downright into the concrete floor, stumbling upon some  trash I tried to walk as far as I could.
Damn it, I’d much rather get myself into a pile of dead radroaches; that would have been disgusting, but still bearable. And watching the remains of a sentient creature, just like you, who died in darkness and damp was a lot tougher to cope with. Dark thoughts swarmed my head and I tried to get rid of them, concentrating on avoiding holes and pieces of plaster on the floor. My PipBuck light illuminated a rough wall next to my left side. I decided to walk along the wall beacuse the light was not enough to illuminate the whole corridor to the right.
Apparently, I was in some sort of an abandoned warehouse. There was no sight of containers or anything, but cracks on the floor told me that the cargo could have been evacuated in a hurry. My contemplations were interrupted by a sight of another radioactive puddle I evaded and then I reached the corner of the room which was strangely rough and irregular.
It was not until then that I dared to turn around. And all around, as far as I could see, was an uneven floor, peppered with concrete. Another radioactive puddle sparkled far away and I could hear water drop down from the ceiling. My sickness retreated and the corpse hatch was left far behind which made me a lot more comfortable. I tried to get the Stable’s radio frequency on my PipBuck to determine how far away I was. But instead, I could get only static even the omnipresent cello music was not there. There was another frequency, though, that, unfortunately, was just a high-pitched beep repeating every two seconds. I’ve listened to it for a minute or two, but the signal didn’t change, so I turned the radio off.
There was a medkit in my saddlebag, just what I needed to patch myself. First, I needed to treat an injure on the inside of my thigh, a trace of rebar. Acutally, Stable technicians have been almost forced to attend to medical courses and now they came in handy. At least, I approved the way I cleaned and bandaged my injury. The bandage came out not too neat, but firm. Now, with half of the medkit depleted, there was one more thing to do.
I sat there, in an amber pool of light, surrounded by darkness and tried to comprehend what to do next. Getting back into the Stable was not an option, at least not now. I’ve lost trail of the green cable, and the floor surface was so uneven I had to point the right before my nose to to trip over something. I could definitely use a maintenance searchlight or something...
But I still had something, probably not as good... I remembered a trick we used from time to time in the darkest vents of the Stable. There was an image in the Pipbuck’s memory, a plain fill of white - or of amber, in case of monochrome Pipbuck display. I maximized this image and it suddenly became much brighter around! I suddenly realized the place around me was neither a room, nor a corridor, nor a warehouse, nor anything that could remotely resemble a place where ponies could live and work.
Moving the PipBuck’s light along the walls, I matched what I saw and whatever little I knew about things and a suspicion started growing inside my noggin, ready to blow outside. I noticed that the walls were irregular a long time ago, but only now I could examine them closely. Actually, the most regular thing was the floor. The walls could have been best described as “shapeless”. They appeared to be crushed inside with a some sort of colossal force. Bobmardment consequences were my first guess, actually, if only the walls were not made of some weird material, different from any kind of metal or plastic we used in the Stable. They were also wet and left dirty traces on my barding. Neither dry dust, nor liquid oil... I decided this sort of dirt resembled a powdery mixture used in water filtering devices.
And then I finally realized that the concrete crumb on the floor was not a concrete. This was neither trash, nor rebar. Cross my heart and hope to die! These were stones and I was in a cavern! In a wet, dirty, dusty, real cavern! Just like in the books!
I forgot about fatigue and pain that instant. It has hit me that I’ve crossed that very line, which I could only touch back in the Stable library, reading my favourity books about Daring Do’s adventures. Every time she went into another cavern or temple or whatever, I wished I were in her horseshoes. Or at least in her blue-hided sidekick’s, whose name was different in every book, but to see it all with my own eyes anyway! Of course, there were pencil pictures in those books, but they did not help much to understand what a real cavern could look like. Being Master Short Circuit’s assistant was interesting enough, and I liked the engineering, but this was beyond comparison to a true archeology expedition or something.
And now here I was in a real cavern, all alone. Amazing! In a dim light of my PipBuck I could see dark damp walls, all shaped in irregular lines and particles of dust dancing all around me. Even the air itself was different from Stable and its shafts. I was away enough not to smell that disgusting corpse reek and I could breathe deep, feeling unfamiliar cold and humidity of cavern air. There were no wind and no  sounds and this silence deafened me. I even had to try to talk to myself to make sure I could still hear things. For the first time in my life I faced something as alien and unknown as this space. It was chilling and exciting at the same time. I checked my bandage - the wound stopped bleeding. Little by little, I’ve started feeling creepy and decided to go on. Curiosity and reluctance to get back to that corpse chamber pushed me forward. I turned around next corner and stumbled upon a line of stone “teeth” growing from the floor. I knew these ones were called “stalagmites”, wow.
Yes, between the irregular walls and stones under my hooves, it was difficult to navigate through the cavern. I had to watch my step instead of merry trotting and sight seeing. Not that there were much of a sight to see, anyway. However, the slow pace helped me to notice my old friend – a green cable that threaded along the wall, fixed to iron hooks which protruded from stone. The cable looked much older and dirtier here; a green cable looked odd enough even back in the Stable. Here, however, pretty much everything was quite odd. Arching my eyebrow, I followed the green line.
“So, it did not end back in that well,” I thought, “where the hay does it go anyway?”
The game went on. I liked to think of it as a game, ready to spend my energies to solve this mystery. According to my feelings, no less than half an hour passed when I noticed some change in the air. I stopped and tried to get what was wrong. Right: the air became fresh and more cold. Without wind, constant movement made me all sweaty and now a slightest wind made shiver with cold. From my books I knew: if you’d not like to freeze, you’ve got to move.
The spacious cavern turned into a narrow tunnel, with a ceiling sometimes too low for me.  At every fork I took the direction of the cable. I often had to bend my head down and sometimes I even had to crawl on my belly, wings tighly clasped, pushing my saddlebag before me. The tunnel was constantly ascending, and that helped me keep faith in succes of this little adventure, but it also took a lot of energy. But, it appeared like the darkness at the end of the tunnel became a tiny bit less... dark, and that suggested the tunnel’s end is near.
Surface! Yesterday this was beyond imagination - well, I did imagine it, but had no idea it could become real. Even when I still was a blank flank, I poked my nose into every corner of the Stable and I knew that my home is a confined space with no exit whatsoever. And now I faced a chance to finally see the world we enclosured ourselves from two hundred years ago.

*        *        *

        “...Stepping forth into a patch of brightest light, Daring blinked unwilligly, and when her eyes accustomed to the lighting, she retrieved binoculars from her saddlebag and proceeded to investigate the area ahead. The objective of her quest, the Forbidden City dwelled in greenery that met no resistance and flourished in windows, doors, on the rooftops and crawled along the walls of the Watchtower, decorated with majestic gryphon statues, darkened with time, yet still menacious. Abandoned centuries ago, the city has still not been ransacked by treasure hunters and thus, still remained in its magnificence. In a distance, the gilded dome of the Palace shimmered under the sun...”
        I hesitated at the end of the tunnel, dawdled undecidedly and shivered of cold. I knew that instead of the Forbidden City there would be something completely different, something one could not be prepared for. And I was not prepared for this, too. Cold white grains were being blown inside and turned into water as soon as they touched my nose. One could easily guess it was snowflakes, you know, like in the winter wrap up song. Presumably, there was much more snow at the outside, and where is snow, there is ice. I really regretted I had no thermos filled with hot tea with me... Or anything stronger, maybe.
        I coughed badly, and the sound reverberated across the tunnel, turning my voice alien and unnatural and it even felt like something else accompanied it. Remembering a corpse near the hatch I presumed there could be all sorts of creatures in this cavern, with, presumably, quite a vision in the darkness. I gulped and stepped outside, into the Surface night.

*        *        *

        There actually was a lot more snow in the outside! It kept falling from above like a constant flow and at first I was afraid I would very soon disappear beneath it. It was fun at first, but soon cold started to penetrate my barding, chilling me to the bone.
        It was night outside, but the sky was covered with dark grey clouds. I knew it, because the Pipbuck displayed the time - 00:15. My first night away from home. Quite a dubious achievement. Still, this was the night, which, according to the books, always changed the life of a pony drastically. Well, at least, the current surroundings actually were drastically different from where I’ve been some three hours ago.
        Slowly getting accustomed to piercing cold on my muzzle and rough wind in my mane, I looked around, and saw no bright colours. The picture “Dodo out of the cave” was painted in grey, white and a tiny bit of brown.
        As far as I could see through the blizzard, I stood on a relatively plain space, which ended with an abrupt fall into darkness. The only way I could possibly go was upwards. Good for me that the green cable went uphill, too, diving into snow cover here and there.
        I bet, it’s nice and pleasant to climb up the rock in the middle of the jungle. Between warm wind and sun flaring on your cutie mark, hooves pace firmly, anticipating a great adventure. Now I could see why Daring always prefered warm countries with tropical climate! Crawling up the icy cliff, loosing ground every now and then and feeling your barding getting heavier and heavier with snow was much less than pleasant. The worst part was that the slope was not actually too steep, it was just damn slippery and I kept sliding down at the middle of it.
After another countless attempt I sat down where I was and desperately looked at my PipBuck. There was a blinking notification on its screen, a landmark: “Altitude 472”. The device had also loaded a map of the location: in between the isolines a bulding was marked as “aux. bldg”. I had no idea where and why did the device store the map of the Surface, but all in all that seemed legit: the ponies were supposed to leave Stables one day, right?
So, there was a building up there. I could hide from the wind and get my hooves warm at last. That was a boost I needed to get my teeth clenched tightly on the green cable and fix myself in that position. Having at least a some kind of support under my hooves, I could start a careful ascension towards the rickety iron shack, or the Auxiliary Building, if you prefer. By that moment I hated snow already, but I kept pushing forward with my rear hooves, pulling with my front hooves. I had no idea how to combine this hostile snowy environment with the colourful pictures I saw in the books, and likewise, I had no idea how much longer could I stay in the icy  wind,  but it was getting obvious, that whatever our ancestor hid from in the Stables, has broken something both in the earth and the sky.
I kept crawling that way until I faced a black stone. There was an arrow painted on it, pointing towards a metal tower with the Auxiliary Building beneath - at least I hoped for it to be a building, not a some sort of a trash container.
Almost immediately after I passed the stone, I felt a firm ground under my hooves and I finally made it out of the snow pile, shake myself off and take a better look around. Still, there was not much to look at.
The metal tower looked like a some sort of an antenna. There were also some dark boulders and a heck of a lot of snow, a lot more than I could imagine being in one place. However, I enjoyed a most spectacular feeling in my life: the absence of walls and ceilings. Surely, I’ve been wet and cold, my head ached violently, and my inner voice kept saying  “Where the hell do you think you’re going, Dodo?”, but this particular feeling of a vast room many, many times bigger than the Atrium, overwhelmed me.
For the first time in my life I could stretch my wings and care not to break something, like, a fusion box on the wall or a lamp under the ceiling. The Stable was never engineered for pegasi, and almost each and every communication line has been routed right through the corridors for the sake of maintenance. And here I was finally absolutely free to move around! If not for the fatigue and a strong wind, I probably would have even tried my first flight tonight - with a long run up, sharp take-off and falling with style, back into the snow, face first.
But not before I scout the windowless building that, despite resembling a trash container, enjoyed a roof and a small antenna dish. There was a small yellow trash container though, and it signalled that somepony had lived here once: inside were some tin cans and empty bottles, embedded in ice. At the opposite side of the building I found a door; it was not locked but the freeze latched it to the jamb. All I had was a screwdriver and I pierced the ice fiercely. Now I needed a little bit of leverage, and... done!
I clicked a switch and powered up the light and a terminal on a table. Too bad any heating was either absent or malfunctional. There was, however, neither wind nor snow and that was an improvement already. Leaving the terminal for later, I examined a locker and found a medkit: iodide, bandages, patches, headache pills and - oh yes! - a bottle of a fine “Amber Mare” whiskey. Left there for medical purposes, obviously.
Wow, boy! I never before had such luck to enjoy this beauty in any considerable amount. While not strictly forbidden, alcohol remanied a corporate bugaboo around the Stable. And even worse: a drunk technician on a shift could be easily demoted to a cleaning department or something as horrible as that.
I believe you understand that with such a treasure in my hooves I could not resist to give it a try... until tears burst out of my eyes and a wave of heat went though my body. Trying my best to catch a breath, I suddenly realized I could feel the tips of my hooves again! My memories suddenly  turned back to the Stable, to the elderly Overmare and her hatred of alcohol and everything chaotic in general. Out pride of being a cultural preservation of Equestria has turned us into snobbish and tedious creatures. As much as I loved the Stable for being my home, I would have eagerly enjoyed a fine feast. As much as I enjoyed Cashmire Wave’s hoof’n’roll tracks, I always wanted to turn it louder, much louder than my PipBuck allowed. Or proprieties allowed.
I gulped more whiskey and went on exploring the building.

                                        *        *        *

A thick bundle of yellow newspapers: “Equestrian Daylight”, “Pony press”, a naughty “Wingboner” magazine poster: a charming young mare in long striped socks! Oh, I could use some like these! From the looks of things, this building has once been inhabitated by a middle-aged stallion and he was all alone. A row of empty whiskey bottles under the bed acknowledged my assumptions.
When I tried to power up a RCV-IV radio receiver, it made a popping sound and started smoking. Alright, these ‘Mark IV Royal Canterlot Voice’ receivers have never been durable. I had a vinyl player back in the Stable, made of three RCVs and I even had to raid the Tech Department for some spare parts. The StableTec-engineered terminal, though, was perfectly functional; it required a six symbol password. The password was nowhere to be found: neither on the table, nor on the wall, nor anywhere where the passwords are usually being kept.
I knew a solution, however, a fat bearded computer genius in tortoiseshell glasses taught me. He told me that StableTec developed the terminals to be widely used in offices and remembering passwords proved to be almost impossible task for an average user. Whenever a secretary mare or even a CEO stallion blocked a terminal again you usually had to insert a hardware master key to release the block. In order to avoid a lot of useless trouble, a pin pair has been added to the termials’ motherboards that cleared a password memory, if short-circuited with a screwdriver... or a bobby pin. Of course, you needed to unmount terminal’s case first, but I could do that in a jiffy.
It took me about three minutes to bring the terminal back to life and start browsing through whatever records were still intact.

Record#28
Hell of a weather out there, and my mood is no better. Those StableTec bastards arrived this morning, started asking their fucking  questions. What do I know about the dragon’s cavern down the slope? What the fuck am I supposed to know, bitches? It’s a freaking cavern!
There has been no food deliveries for... a month? Oh sure, I have a lot of tinned beans and dried carrots to munch on.

Record#31
These asshols are sure as hell not short on dynamite. The whole freaking mountain shivers like a house of cards and I jump every time it does. Getting jumpy, heh? I have no idea what kind of fossils they’ve found down there, but I guess sooner or later this fucking shack, this fucking antenna, these fucking beans and me will fall all the way down.

Wow. How many bad words... Dodo, you should not be reading this!

Record#34
The weather has gotten better, after all. Let’s hope for some food delivery.
I hope it would be....
<unreadable>
…cause I can’t stand these damned beans anymore! This way I’ll soon get myself up in the sky with a jet thrust.

How funny.

They said on the radio that zebras are bombing Hoofington again. Good luck smashing your hooves, fuckers!

Record#38
These cocksuckers down there came out to be useful, after all. They jacked my shack to their generators, and shit, now I can turn on both the radio and the heater!

What did he call a heater, that long box at the wall? It does not heat anything.

They keep moving construction materials into that cave. Girders, sheet metal, cable spools. This shit doesn’t look like a mine digging at all. A pegasus fellow delivered food for three - holy shit, three months! Told me rumors about building freaking huge bunkers all across Equestria, just like for those bigshots in Canterlots. Long live the Princesses!
And the damned news are getting worse and worse. Zebra maggots have used a freakish toxin at the Littlehorn.

Record#43
<unreadable>
…rows of refugees. And a Ministry Of Peace transport. Those StableTec faggots have really built a huge buker down there! Like, they’ve pickaxed the whole dragon’s cavern and...
<unreadable>
...Stable 96, and that means there’s a fucking lot of them in Equestria! Bitch, this no single experiment, it’s a full-on serious business. And here is our new ruling Princess Luna saying there’s no reason for panic - right in the middle of the war, and like hell I believe!

Right, I always knew our Stable was numbered 96. This numberwas everywhere: on my barding insignia, on every door back home, and even on some common wares. And still, I liked to call it “The Stable” as if it was - and it sort of actually was - the only Stable in the world.

Record #67.
...hell of a blow! The radio is silent. Deadly silent. The end is really fucking nigh. I’ve been at the Cliff this morning, there are dead bodies all around. The vehicles are all wrecked and burning. The Ministry of Peace camp is no more. The magnificent Stable number ninety-six burns like hell. Guess I should call it Crypt 96 now. Or maybe, Vault 96?
I feel sick. Shit, it’s bad now. What have you done, fuckers? I hate you all. Zebras, ponies, progress, megaspells...

Record #70.
I sAT halF a dday here,m huGgin my RaDio. Mmy hOOves are shakin. Tthe rAdio vOice saId two ttimees Manehattan s rUined, Cntrlt is in piNk ccloud hazMats dont savE.
The pegasi are cloSing the...
<unreadable>
...no food. Gotta go down to whatever remain from that camp to scavenge. My shift is over, the lighthouse is off, the crater is glowing green and so is the snow. Fuck. No signs of life below, save for 96 is still burning.

Record #71
Got three packs of RadAway with whiskey. Whoever reads this, you should know that I, Maney Brown, watched over the lighthouse for 5 years and it didn’t ever fucking went off. Now I leave, into whatever is now Equestria. Wish me luck.

This was the end of the shack’s dweller’s diary. From what I read I imagined him to be a rare sourpuss. A gumpy whiskey addict with no brightness in his life, but I still got curious of his fate. Aside from these records, there was nothing on the terminal, save for two-hundred year old weather reports, which told me that life on Altitude 472 was sconsistently disgusting.
        Oh, and I remembered I also had a table drawers unispected. The open ones were empty, save for some pre-war coins, bottle caps, bobby pins and a layer of random trash I was not interested in. The uppermost drawer was locked and the key, I guess, went with that Maney character. I hoped there was something interesting in the last drawer.
        This table deserved some respect. The lock was really hard, and my screwdriver was useless; after causing a severe wreck on the lock, I decided to look beneath the table, and there I found a key, scotch-taped to table’s bottom. Actually, it was useless now, as it didn’t move in lock cylinder now. But I accepted the challenge!
        The table was of solid wood and looked really out of place in this shack. And wood, I knew, was a subject to crack. I just needed something heavy enough...
        Five, no, six strikes. A StableTec issued maintenance hammer I clenched in my teeth left deep carvings in the wood and emitted orange sparks when it hit the lock. Every next strike hammered the lock cylinder deeper until it fell inside. I inserted a screwdriver in the hole and pulled. I admit, this was far from the most graceful lockpicking, but quite effective.
        When I peeked inside the drawer I knew such vandalism was not in vain: inside it was a great big black gun! A pistol, not as cool as the Stable Security used, but still a simple and a reliable one. Oh, and it was loaded. Adorable.
        My first gun. It made my saddlebag palpably heavier, but, whatever fauna expected me outside, now I could protect myself. Or so I thought. Actually, I had no idea how I was supposed to descend the down the cliff, but I reckoned there was no sense to keep freezing my rump in Maney’s shack. I had to reach the Ministry of Peace camp he wrote about, but first there was a two-hundred year old business to finish.
        I poured the rest of the whiskey inside, and launched the bottle to the trash bin. I opened the door in a cool harsh manner and a blow of wind tore the Wingboner poster from the wall. I switched off the lights and went outside, leaving the scavenged shack behind.

LEVEL UP!
Next level: 2.
New perk added: “Break in”. Wooden crates and drawers are no more a problem to you: some blunt force will always do the trick! But remember: metal containers can not be opened this way.