Fallout: Equestria

by Kkat


Chapter Seven: Velvet Remedy

Chapter Seven: Velvet Remedy

“’They actually consider us gods. But then, who can blame them?”

Her!

She was still as beautiful as the first time I saw her. It had been the birthday party for the Overmare’s daughter. Velvet Remedy had come in to sing her a stunning revision of the Happy Birthday song. I had been painfully jealous of the filly for weeks after.

Actually, she was even more gorgeous than the last time I saw her. I’d followed her out into this wasteland. To see her now, against this backdrop of rusted metal, old hardwood, bloodstains and liquor -- her song so clear and majestic through the din of lowlifes -- made her breathtaking in comparison.

My heart fluttered like a butterfly trapped in a jar. Part of me wanted to run to her. Part of me, small but insistent, wanted to be furious with her, to blame her for getting me involved; it didn’t matter that the only pony who forced me out of that Stable door was me.

My eyes flickered back to the guards making their rounds. Even if they weren’t looking in my direction, in moments they wouldn’t be able to miss me. Following either cry of my heart was out. Instead, I scooted back silently, and retreated the way I came.

This threw a new wrinkle in the plan. Now, getting Velvet Remedy out of captivity was my highest priority. Not to suggest the other ponies in those cages were any less important to me. But something personal had been added to the situation. In my head, I entertained the thought of her how happy she would be to see me.

The moment I stepped outside, I knew that I was in trouble. Multiple slaver ponies, lantern poles strapped to their backs, were standing about the corpse of that flamethrower bastard I put down. The wake of my activities was not going unnoticed or ignored. Four of the ponies, those most lightly armed, turned and ran towards the huge central barn. I pressed myself against the wall. The alarm was about to go up!

A single gunshot rang out through the storm, and the lead pony dropped from two bullet wounds. Two of the three runners skidded to a muddy stop and dove for cover, trying to spot their attacker. The third kept running. He nearly made it to the barn -- close enough that the barn door was splattered with red when Calamity took him down.

Most of the four more heavily armed slavers spotted Calamity on that last dive and began firing in his direction. But he was fast, the lighting was bad… and I had not been impressed by the aim of slavers yet tonight. I was pleased and utterly unsurprised when the hail of assault rifle ammo thrown in Calamity’s general direction missed my companion entirely.

But now, these four were working in a group, moving towards the barn while covering each other. Denying Calamity any safe vector of approach. Moving quickly, I raced down the catwalk and towards one of the old, half-collapsed wooden buildings surrounding the megabarn, combat shotgun reloaded and ready. It was locked.

I spilled several bobby pins and almost fumbled the screwdriver in my haste. The lock was stubborn and tricky, and every failure was making me more jumpy. I desperately wished I had another Mint-al, preferably of the Party Time variety.

The bobby pin broke.

Behind me, the noises from the central barn changed drastically. The singing stopped. And the drunken hollers were replaced by authoritative shouts.

Frantically pulling out another bobby pin, I tried again. I could hear the barn doors swing open, ponicidal slavers tearing out into the storm. Cries for blood and rape and death -- and it struck me like a blow to my gut that such vitriol was directed towards me. If these slavers caught me, I’d only wish I was a dead pony!

The door’s lock finally gave. Without a second to lose, I dove inside.

POW! POW! POW! POW!

Four rapid shots with the combat shotgun, and the slaver guards inside (gambling at a table covered in bottle caps and cigarette butts) went down before they had time to react to my presence. It only hit me a moment later that I had opened fire based solely on what they looked like, what they were wearing, and that they were armed in a place like this. Had I not just done, in essence, what Calamity did when he opened fire on me?

Only I had murdered these two, and even in retrospect had no reason to believe my admittedly fear-fueled instincts had been wrong. One of the dead ponies had a pair of manacles as a cutie mark, and the other had the keys both to the front door and the cage that took up two-thirds of the room.

My eyes widened at what I saw before me. This was not like the cages in the Ponyville Library; there were no prisoners behind these bars. Instead, there were weapons. And boxes of ammo, some stacked on top of other boxes of ammo!

I was in the armory!

Two thoughts raced through my mind, each right on the heels of the other: I had just hit the jackpot! And this was probably right where most of the slavers were headed first!

Swiftly, I turned and locked the door. Then began to barricade it. Not too heavily, as trapping myself in here was not going to save anypony, least of all myself. But it would give me time. Time to loot and to consider my next move. A filing cabinet, the table and the metal desk should do. Bottle caps and gaming chits slid to the floor in chaos as I upended the table and place it against the door. I levitated the filing cabinet against it to hold it in place. Then the desk was wrapped with a glow identical to that of my horn as I swung it around. The desk, I noticed, had a glowing terminal. Time allowing, it might be worth it to see what it had to say.

First, however, was improving my armament.

*** *** ***

Seven ammo boxes (half of them locked), two gun cabinets and a weapons locker (also locked) later, I was less like a pony and more like a walking arsenal. There were dozens of weapons, but all in such crappy condition that I was only able to salvage three useful ones out of them including a needler pistol, the repair assist spell of my PipBuck allowing me to swiftly tear down the worst of the weapons for the best of their parts. The weapons locker contained two battle saddles, both far too heavy for me to bother with.

I now had ammo for everything but Little Macintosh, including weapons I had never seen before, such as spark packs designed for recharging magical energy weapons, and three missiles. It disturbed me greatly that the slavers had a small stockpile of missiles. Particularly since neither of the battle saddles were built for them.

But by far, the biggest prize in the lot had been neither a weapon nor ammo, but a set of schematics for creating a homemade gun that would fire poisoned needles! It would be silent, crippling and I was pretty sure I’d seen most of the parts required back in Absolutely Everything.

The slavers took little time figuring out I had barricaded myself in their armory. If that gave them pause, however, they didn’t show it. Relocking the door had been a useless effort; the first pony to the armory had her own set of keys. The table, cabinet and desk were proving much more worthwhile, and by the time I had finished repairing the weapons I was taking, they had finally ceased bucking their hooves at the door. I had no doubt that they were waiting outside in quiet ambush, but that gave me yet a little more time. I used it to take a look at the terminal. It took almost no time to hack it. The password was “terminal”. I was unimpressed.

The first entry was ancient; dating back several years before the apocalypse. The others were all within the last few months.

Entry One:
Had a surprise inspection from the Ministry of Morale yesterday. We pretty well knew it was coming, and I’d been given instructions on what to do; but I couldn’t believe how smoothly it went! We slip them a small percentage of the special product, and they give us clean marks? Even if they were dirty, I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t bring the cage down on us and impound all of it for themselves. Seemed too good to be true. So I did a little digging, and a friend of a friend working over at Ironshod who claims to have an inside peek gave me this apple to chew on: according to him, the head mare of MoM herself actually loathes the new contraband laws. And since MoM enforces those laws, that means all sorts of tasty zebra treats are slipping into Equestria right under the Princess’s nose. I figure this means as long as she says golden delicious, we’re golden delicious. And even if the Princess suspects her (and how dense would she have to be not to?), she really is the one pony the MoM can’t bring up on sedition charges!

Entry Two:
Finally wiped the crap from this terminal. Three-hundred plus documents that I have absolutely no use for (and many of which it’s probably best there not be a record of). All except that one damn file from forever ago with the weird-ass flag on it that prevents tampering. And trust me, I’ve tried.

Don’t know why we even bother keeping record of where we send the goods, since they’re all going to the same damn place anyway. I don’t know what the hell Stern needs all these slaves for, but unless she’s building an army, whatever it is has one hellish rate of attrition.

Boss is more worried about the attrition rate in transit. A third of these fuckers don’t make the journey, and Stern ain’t paying us none for corpses. I’m supposed to figure out a way to keep the damn goods alive at least until after caps exchange hooves. Maybe a cocktail of drugs will help. Found a false floor last week leading into a buried boxcar just full of the stuff!

Entry Three:
I’ve finally convinced the boss that we need to start a little side business in the foal market. The young ones are easier to corral, control and train. Sure, we have to play up the “investment” angle, since they can’t do the work of a normal slave, but there are plenty of ponies out there who see the potential. Unfortunately, Stern ain’t one of them. That bitch has no patience.

Turns out, a mixture of Buck and Dash, in small doses, does mighty well in keeping the more worthless slaves from keeling over before they make Fillydephia. What happens to them after Stern gets her hooves on them ain’t none of my concern. Still got to talk to Whip Crack about going a bit easier on them though. No drug cocktail is going prevent a pony from being lashed to death. Might suggest swapping out which slaves are pulling the wagons a bit more often too.

Entry Four:
The cells in the old sheriff’s station have been perfect for foal holding. The settlers of Appleloosa might have constructed a lot of this place with an eye to speed over lastingness but they sure knew how to make a holding pen. I’d even say that the cells in there are a close second in the list of stuff I’m glad they left behind when they all kicked the bucket, next to that apple pie recipe!

Turns out, gathering foals has made hitting isolated homesteads a much better risk. The parent folk have a tendency to get annoyingly shooty when we come to claim them, but they also take such great pains to keep their little ones out of the fight that even if we have to kill off all the adults, we still make a good profit.

Entry Five:
What a fucking cock-up! A whole shipment, two wagons worth, slaughtered. Best we can figure, they ran into a stray hellhound. Damned taint fucks everything up. Now I hear that Stern is sending a “special representative” to take a look-see at our operation. Sounds more to me like she’s planning on taking over. I think she’s in for a face-buck surprise. And this “special representative” best watch her tail.

Got a new herd of foals ready for breaking. Raked in the caps with the last batch. Another benefit of dealing in foals: you only have to kill one of them in front of the others to take the fight out of them.

Entry Six:
The last week has been beyond words. Stern was playing it close to her chest with that “special representative” business. I never had any idea! Let’s just say I was shaking in my shodding when our new boss heard about some of the stuff I’d been saying back when we didn’t know her. But I guess it’s easy to be understanding when you’re connected to the divine! Besides, we still have what’s left of the old boss as a reminder that the new boss’s hooves ain’t soft.

The new acquisition is going to do wonders for keeping the slaves up. Good thing too, since the new boss don’t cotton to the Buck and Dash trick. Fortunately, I was able to convince her that was Apple Core’s idea. Poor Apple Core. Never saw it coming.

All hail the living Goddess!

By the time I was done reading, I could have set the town on fire with the heat of my seething. Mentally, I was adding the foal cages to my objectives list where it fought with Velvet Remedy for first place. Emotionally, I was seething. I didn’t want to be hidden away in a barricaded room anymore. I wanted to go out there and hurt some fucking evil ponies!

Sometimes, the wasteland listens to what you want and gives it to you with all four hooves. I had barely backed away from the terminal, stomping around angrily as I tried to gather enough focus to move the desk, when my barricade exploded inwards with fury and shrapnel! Blood and agony burst from my body as I was thrown back against the wall. My head slammed into the armory cage and for a moment, I lost consciousness. The slavers had launched a missile at the door!

*** *** ***

Trembling with shock and pain, I greedily gulped down another healing potion. Already, my wounds were closing. Calamity held my left foreleg in place so the gash that nearly severed it could do its work. The wound was beyond ugly. Even with the potions, I would be lame until a real medical pony could treat it. Candi seemed horribly far away, and that was assuming she even had the skills.

Fortunately, Calamity calmed me, a missile-launching battle saddle takes some effort to aim correctly, meaning that any pony short of a true expert with the things would be planting herself for each launch. And that made her an easy target. Almost too easy for a shot like Calamity.

When I could stand again, though still wobbly, I hastily filled Calamity in on what I had discovered. He gave me an appraising look as I danced around saying anything about Velvet that would lay bare my heart, then (thankfully) trotted back to take a quick peak at the battle saddles. Neither, he declared at a glance, were sufficiently similar to his own to even raid for spare parts.

We didn’t dare spend any further time in the armory. The slavers would be back any moment. We decided to split up. I would look for Velvet Remedy while he hightailed it to the sheriff’s office, where he would scout out the place and hopefully take out any guards. I would meet him there soon to unlock the cages, but until then he could rally the foals. Or, at least, give them hope and the first friendly company since being captured.

Slipping out, we parted ways and slid into the storm. The slavers missed us by seconds.

*** *** ***

I quickly slid the boxcar door shut behind me; outside the bright rectangle of light I had opened shrank and vanished back into darkness.

She was here!

“It’s about time!” Her tail was to me as she faced a wall with three yellow boxes arranged so their butterflies were in a triangular pattern. “I can’t very well do any good sitting in h…”

She had turned a glance towards me and stopped. Now she turned slowly towards me, staring. “Oh… no…”

For the last half-hour, fantasies had played through my head imagining the expression on her face when I found her. The surprise! The joy! This wasn’t either.

“Oh, oh dear!” Her eyes traveled from my face to my Stable Two utility barding (still quite recognizable even with Ditzy Doo’s improvements) to the PipBuck on my foreleg. Velvet Remedy looked shocked and… sad?

“What are you doing here?” she asked with a breath.

I stood tall. “I followed you out of the Stable. Came across the Equestrian Wastlelands to find you. I’m here to rescue you!” I gave her my best winning smile. Then, worrying at how I might have sounded, I added meekly, “I’m not stalking you.”

“Aren’t you now.” She shook her head and pranced around almost as if distraught. “I tried so hard to keep anypony from following me. This isn’t what I wanted at all!” Then she looked at me again, and this time I could tell she was seeing the wounds. And the weapons.

“You’re the one out there shooting up everything? You are, aren’t you.”

Wait… why was I suddenly feeling like I’d done something wrong? “Yes. Like I said, I’m here to rescue you.”

“Rescue? Littlepip…” Oh my gosh, she remembered my name! “…I’m not a prisoner. I’m here of my own volition.”

What? WHAT!??

“You’re… here… with slavers…” I couldn’t tell which was breaking faster, my head or my heart. “You’re… working with slavers!?”

She stared at me, her voice cool. “And you’re cutting a bloody swath through them. How many ponies are dead tonight because of you, Littlepip?”

“They’re slavers!!” I was breathing hard, seeing red.

“And how about the people they support? This is a town, Littlepip. There are merchants and tavern owners and workponies here. Have you killed any of them? Are you sure?

“No, I haven’t. I’m sure!” Well, unless the some of the townsfolk wear slaver armor and carry slaver guns and were shooting at me.

“And the slaves? Do you think you can kill slaver ponies and they won’t retaliate? Do you think they wouldn’t take it out on helpless ponies to make an example?”

Not if we rescue them all first, I thought savagely. But instead of arguing further, I forced myself to be calm. This was Velvet Remedy! I’d give her a chance to explain herself. In as even a tone as I could muster, “Why?”

Velvet Remedy’s voice never raised nor wavered. I was near shouting and she was keeping her poise. It made me want to scream even more. “When I left the Stable... after leaving a message to keep anypony from following me,” she gave me a pointed look, “I came upon a band of ponies who had been set upon by a horrific beast. There was only one survivor, badly wounded, missing a leg. So of course I galloped to his leg.

“Did you know I always wanted to be a medical pony? I bound his wounds and carried him back to his camp. It was a slaver camp, and there were several ponies there who were in severe need of aid, particularly amongst the captives.” Velvet Remedy looked about the boxcar, which I began to realize was not her cell but her room. “I’ve been with them since.”

I just stared. “But... you’re helping slavers!”

Velvet Remedy turned away from me, staring at her wall of yellow medical boxes with little pink butterflies. Casually, as if talking about the weather (cloudy with a chance of rain, gunfire and bloody dismemberment), she told me, “I read in a book once, back when I was about your age, that when Fluttershy -- the Mare of the Ministry of Peace herself -- stepped onto a battlefield, she insisted that her healer ponies tend to everyone wounded on the battlefield. Everyone! Pony, zebra, to her it didn’t matter…”

She turned a level gaze at me and slowly asked, “How could I do any less?”

“It’s different!”

“Oh?” she challenged, “How?”

Because these are slavers who are killing people and selling others into slavery and death, even foals! And the zebras were just… the zebras just wiped out our cities. I stomped at the ground. Okay, maybe I didn’t have any logical reason why this was any different, but it felt different.

“Look,” I tried reasonably, “These slaver ponies… when you save one of them, you’re making it possible for them to hurt and kill other ponies. Destroy lives. The slaves you heal? They’re being sold into horrible work that ends up killing them. The slavers are just using you so those poor ponies survive the trip into hell.”

Velvet Remedy looked pained. “You don’t think I know that? But else can I do? I’m just one pony. And I will not do nothing! Would you have me just trot away from suffering ponies because they have the misfortune of being captives of slavers?”

Now, finally, I felt the ground reassert itself beneath my hooves. “You can help me rescue them.”

She chuckled sadly, shaking her head. “Rescue them? The two of us? Against all those slavers?” She looked me over, “Not that I don’t doubt your resolve… or your firepower. But we would be horribly outnumbered…”

I could feel myself grinning, “I’m not alone. We have support. And he’s a pegasus!”

Her resistance was crumbling, but still she shook her head. “Even if we did, then what? Did you also bring food enough for the slaves? Water? We are many days trot from the nearest friendly settlement, and many of the poor ponies I have been tending are in no condition to make such a trip. Some of them are foals!”

Her gaze traveled to my lame leg, and her eyes widened. “Oh dear!” She pointed a forehoof. “And it doesn’t look like you are in any condition to either. If we had a few hours, I could tend to that, but...”

She sat back, her voice full of regret. “Oh I admire your bravery and sacrifice. But Littlepip, did you really think this through?”

“Of course I thought it through,” I stammered a little crossly and mostly honestly. “I have a train!”

“Oh!” Her eyes widened with surprise. And for the first time, her voice was hopeful rather than hurting. “That… might work!”

*** *** ***

Calamity stood guard atop the sheriff’s office as Velvet Remedy and I made our way to the cells inside. Nearly half a dozen colts and fillies, reeking of filth and sorrow, looked up at our approach, their eyes fearful. That fear softened as they saw Velvet Remedy, and she smiled gently at them in return. “I have good news, little ponies!” she said softly, hesitating with a grimace before stepping over the headless bulk of one of the guards -- Calamity had cleared the way. “We’re all going on a train ride!”

I was already at work on the lock of the first cage. I glanced over, admiring how she was with the foals, nuzzling them through the bars. She had been, I could tell, the one good thing in their bleak, awful lives here. My eyes slid down to her flanks, noticing with amusement (not for the first time) that she had two medical boxes strapped to her sides as saddlebags, only now realizing that the scarlet and golden streaks in her hair and tail had suggestive similarity to the pink and yellow that I now associated with the Ministry of Peace. Also: why didn’t I think of that? Those metal boxes would provide better protection and added armor for the flanks as well!

The tumblers slid into place, and I pulled open the cage. The little ponies inside looked at me with mixed expressions: joy, hope and a fearful reluctance to let either into their hearts.

“We got incoming!” Calamity’s voice broke through the sounds of the rain. “Whoa… Littlepip, we got trouble! Big trouble!”

Velvet Remedy shot me a worried expression, like the hope I had built up in her was shattering. Moving deftly, I snuck up to the nearest window and looked out. Two ponies were striding up toward the sheriff’s office, clopping though the small river that the street used to be. A third watched over them from the top of a boxcar, then leapt down to walk between them. The two on either side wore heavy battle saddles, but it was the figure in between that caught my attention.

She was tall, her body exuding a graceful malice and strength I’d not imagined in any pony. In truth, she hardly looked like a pony at all. From her hooves to the long, spiral horn on her head, to her… wings! A winged unicorn!

Awestruck, I drew on the only figures like this in my memory. “c-Celestia? Luna?”

The voice of the mysterious, dark mare carried majestically through the torrent. “We will give you just one chance to come out. Do so. Or We will bring the whole building down on your ears!”

My mind reeled. I felt my hooves stepping forwards, pulling me towards the door. But I stopped as I locked onto one thing my heart insisted to be true: neither Goddess Celestia nor Goddess Luna would support such horrible ponies! Whoever this… creature was, she did not deserve my reverence!

My atheistic friend on the roof had moment of pause. With a yee and a haw, Calamity dived towards the enemy trio, firing twice. Four bullets struck home and the pony to the left of the not-a-goddess fell with a splash, blood washing over the strange mare’s hooves and down the river that was Mane Street.

The strange mare responded with a whinnying laugh that had no gentleness of soul. “Such impudence!” I gasped as the mare’s horn glowed a sickly green and a blast of lightning ripped from its tip, slamming into Calamity’s chest, throwing him back through the sky.

“Calamity!!” I focused desperately, my own horn glowing. Calamity was spiraling down, unconscious, and I barely caught him in time, holding him hovering over the minefield that surrounded the slave pens. His eyes blinked open, then widened with terror as he saw the mines below him, his hooves thrashing in panic as he tried to backpeddle through the air.

“Oh… now isn’t that touching!” The mare turned to the slaver pony still flanking her as I glided Calamity to safety. “Kill her.” The slaver pony trotted forward, the many barrels of his battle saddle pointed at the age- and weather-weakened wooden structure.

Behind me, I heard Velvet Remedy telling the foals, “Lay flat, all of you. As low as you can!” I turned to see her waving her horn at their cells. And I marveled as a weak, shielding glow wrapped about the cells. Only belatedly did I realize Velvet Remedy had not thought to place herself within the spell of protection she wove around the children.

The roar of the slaver’s battle saddle was nothing like the thunder of other guns, but akin to the fury of a dragon! Bullets tore at the side of the building, a great many punching through, perforating the front of the sheriff’s office! I dove to the floor behind a metal desk, feeling bullets slice the air just behind me and then ring against the metal as they tried to murder the desk.

I heard Velvet Remedy cry out. I heard her fall.

The roar paused, as if the battle saddle needed to catch its breath. Jumping up from my position, forehooves on bullet-riddled desk, I stared out the window and focused. The glow of my horn matched the glow around one, two, three, four of the mines. I pulled them from the mud and carried them towards our enemies as the minigunner reloaded. The strange mare saw what I was doing, throwing up a wing and enveloping herself with sickly green field of energy, a much brighter and stronger version of Velvet Remedy’s protection spell.

The slaver pony turned towards the floating mines the moment they started beeping. He backed up, eyes wide…

BEEP BEEP BEEP BOOOOM!!!

The strange mare’s shield wettened with blood and organs. The spell had barely flickered at the force of the onslaught. But… it had flickered.

“That was almost impressive,” she drolled. “But now playtime is over.”

I wasn’t paying attention. My eyes were only for Velvet Remedy, who lay in a widening pool of blood. Three of the bullets had struck her, one only grazing but two sunk deep into her belly. As quickly as I could, I opened one of her medical boxes and pulled out a roll of medical bandages.

The door of the sheriff’s office ripped off its hinges and went sailing into the darkness. “Go ahead,” she taunted, “throw your best spell.” No spell came. I had none to throw at her.

“Oh!” she laughed as if she had somehow read my mind. “No spells? Well, aren’t you just a pathetic excuse for a unicorn!”

I finished binding Velvet as best I could. She stirred, moaning in pain. My heart jumped.

“And here We were hoping that the great assassin who decided to assault Our town would at least provide Us with a challenge. We have been so utterly bored!”

I focused. My horn began to glow.

“Telekenesis again? Such a foal’s game.” She was trotting closer, but stopped several yards from the steps. “For the trouble you’ve caused Us… and worse, for wasting Our time with your patheticness, first We will kill your friends. Then have them chopped up into a nice stew. Which We will feed to you.”

My horn glowed brighter. I was beginning to sweat with the effort.

“…No, We think We will instead feed them to the foals, and make you watch!”

The glow of my horn flared, a bright overglow enveloping it. I began to tremble with exertion.

“Still. Not. Impressed.” The strange mare’s voice was glorious and impossibly jaded. The light from my horn was pouring out the doorway and through the bullet holes of the building, and she couldn’t have cared less. “So what’s this? Levitating all the little ponies away? You can’t send them far enough that We won’t catch them. Or maybe you are trying to levitate every gun in the armory? Even if you could, this shield around Us will stop any bullet!”

A second overglow erupted from my horn, enveloping the first. I screamed as the energies burned through me.

The strange mare looked from one side to the other. Turned in place to see if there was anything behind her, but noticed nothing but running water and darkness. Even up, but still saw nothing. “Oh, enough of this!” She turned back to me.

“You’re right,” I said, stepping feebly into the doorway, the effort draining such energy from me that I feared I would pass out at any moment. “I am small. Weak… pathetic.” My crippled leg was wobbling so hard it made my teeth chatter. My eyes teared from the pain. I kept my head low, horn to the ground. Almost looking worshipful. “I am a sad excuse for a unicorn with no spells but the foal’s cantrip of levitation.” Without raising my horn, I looked into her eyes. This close, my light bathed her. I could see that she was not actually black, but dark forest green in coat, with a mane streaked in green and purple.

“But I’ve gotten really, really good at it.”

Again, the mare looked around casually, trying to guess what I was up to. But I could see just a touch of apprehension in her bored expression. “Well, maybe you are not worthless after all. Give yourself to Us. Join Us in Unity. Become something greater than this wretched thing you are now.”

A third layer of brilliant overglow erupted from my horn. The light was blinding. My lame leg gave out agonizingly, and I dropped to one knee. “No!”

Rearing back with disgust, the mare demanded, “Oh what are you doing?”

I heard Calamity chuckle nearby. “Keeping ya from castin’ a shadow.”

“What?” The mare looked down. Then up a second time, this time seeing the much softer glow coming from above the sheriff’s office. A moment later, the silently gliding boxcar drifted over the roof and stopped above her. Her eyes went wide with comprehension as I let it go.

<<<------======!!!WHAM!!! ======------>>>

The massive wave splashing out from the impact bowled me over, getting into my nostrils and lungs. I coughed, gasping. I tried to get back to my hooves, but exhaustion smothered me, and I passed out.


Footnote: Level Up.
New Perk: Organizer – You are efficient at arranging your inventory in general. This makes it much easier to carry that little extra you’ve always needed. Items with a weight of two or less are considered to weigh half as much for you.