CHAPTER 3 THE UNEXPECTED WELCOME
Applejack and Garret were in the elevator, making their way down to the Undercity. While the ride down was slow and it was getting boring, Applejack decided to talk to Garret. "So Garret, Ah never got a chance t'knows ya any better. What field do ya work in?"
Garret looked over to Applejack and replied, "I'm a scout for the republic. I was recruited recently because of my hacking abilities and my field reconnaissance training,"
"Well thet's good to know. Is ya any good with a blaster?" Applejack asked out of curiosity.
"Yes I am very well trained to use one and I know some hoof-to-hoof combat as well." Garret replied.
"Thet'll come in handy as we fight against th' Imperials." she commented.
"Hey comman-" Garret was saying before he was interrupted by Applejack.
"Please, ya can call me Applejack."
"Um, right. Applejack, how did you become commander of the fleet?" Garret asked.
"Well Ah served during th' Diamond Dog Wars, but Ah didn't become commander until after th' Imperials started invading Equestria space. Ah was a captain on one of th' star ships thet were defending' th' pegasus' homeworld, Cloudsdale. Th' admiral of th' fleet was killed and th' fleet was scattered. Ah knew thet Ah had to take command of th' fleet and defend th' planet at all cost. As ya can tell, we were successful and drove th' Imperial fleet back. Chancellor Fancypants notice mah heroics and made me commander of mah own fleet. For a spell, we were able start pushing th' Imperial Armada back.....until just a few days ago," Applejack explained. Images of the soldiers lost during the battle over Hoovris flashing through her mind, even the ones on the Solar Spire. She couldn't bare the pain of losing many ponies under her command.
Garret saw that Applejack was having a hard time dealing with what happened."It's okay Applejack, there was nothing you could have done to prevent that," He said hoping that it would help her.
"A-Ah know, it's just....this is th' second time Ah felt so helpless against th' Imperials," Applejack said quietly while looking down.
Garret looked at her with confusion. "The second time? What was the first?" he asked out of curiosity.
She lifted her head back up and said, "Ah....really don't want to talk about it," It was something that Applejack couldn't bear to tell. Her heart was aching with pain and regret.
Before Garret could say anything else the elevator neared its destination. The two then prepared themselves for whatever was behind the door. Then the elevator stopped. Applejack and Garret were starting to sweat and were beginning to shake in their hooves. They weren't sure of what kind of horrors awaited for them behind the door. Then the door slowly opened and-
"Welcome welcome welcome!
A fine welcome to you!
Welcome welcome welcome!
I say how do you do?
Welcome welcome welcome!
I say hip hip hurray!
Welcome welcome welcome!
To the Undercity today!"
Confetti was being blown towards their faces and when it went away, they saw an oven. When the oven opened, it fired and both Applejack and Garret were covered in cake.
"HI THERE! My name is Pinkie Pie. What's your names and what brings you ponies down to the Undercity?" said the pink mare who was glad to see new ponies in her village.
Garret wiped away the cake from his face and said, "The name is Garret and we're coming down here to look for somepony."
Applejack wiped away the cake from her face as well and said, "And mah name is Applejack. We were told thet they'd be somewhere down here."
"OH! I see. Are you looking for both Vao and Zaalbar?" Pinkie asked.
"Well..Um, yeah. How did ya know?" Applejack asked while she was confuse on how the pink mare was able to guess the right ponies they were looking for.
"It was a guess," Pinkie answered with a smile.
Garret then went ahead and said, "Well do you know-" but was interrupted by Pinkie.
"Where they are? Nope, but I know where they went and I can show you the way," Pinkie replied.
Garret was a bit confused, but was grateful that Pinkie knew where to look for Vao and Zaalbar. "Oh! Well that would be very kind of you to do. Lead the way."
"Alrighty then! Follow me then," Pinkie said when she started leading the two ponies while bouncing.
As the group was making their way, Applejack leaned over to Garret and whispered to him, "Were ya expecting this when we were coming here."
"Nope. In fact this was the complete opposite," Garret responded.
"Good, cause Ah was afraid Ah was th' only one," Applejack commented.
Garret tried to observe Pinkie. She was a pink earthpony obviously and was wearing a jacket that looked like it was put together by other pieces of clothing, but it was very colorful. He looked to see what cutie she had and saw three balloons on her flank. He was confuse on why a pony had a cutie mark like that and tried to figure out what it meant.
Applejack saw what Garret was doing and said, "Ya knows its rude t'look at a mare's flank for too long."
Garret blushed and said, "Sorry."
Applejack snickered to herself.
As the group was moving, Applejack and Garret were looking around the village they were in. It was filled with ponies that were in old looking and torn up clothes. Garret felt bad that so many ponies lived down here. He couldn't understand why they were all here in the first place. So he asked Pinkie, "Hey why are there ponies doing down here anyway?"
Pinkie looked backed at Garret confused and asked, "Wait? Why would you ask that question? I thought everypony would know why the outcast are down here."
"We're not exactly from this planet. We're....um....outworlders and we got stuck here because of the Imperial blockade," Garret replied hoping that Pinkie would believe him.
"Well that would explain it," Pinkie said. "But you don't have to worry about telling me you're with the Republic. I don't like the Imperials that much."
Garret and Applejack froze up and their eyes shrunk at what Pinkie said.
"H-How did ya know we were with th' Republic?" Applejack asked concerned how Pinkie figured out which side they were on.
"I'm not that good of a detective, but you ponies are wearing clothes that Republic citizens would wear or at least what Republic officers would wear. Applejack, your accent is from Republic space and Imperials don't want their soldiers to have a distinct accents among them. And lastly, Garret here is a terrible liar even though what he said is partly true," Pinkie got done explaining and both Republic ponies had their mouths wide opened at what she said.
"Okay wow! Didn't see that coming.....Wait? Am I really that terrible of a liar?" Garret said and pondered at wither or not if he was a bad liar.
'Well y'all weren't convincing when y' told her about us," Applejack pointed out.
"Thanks," Garret said, sarcastically.
"Anyways you ponies really don't know anything about down here and the outcast?" Pinkie asked.
Garret then replied, "Nope. Do you mind telling us about it?"
"I don't mind. I really like telling stories to other ponies, but I think Rukil should be the one to tell you the story," Pinkie answered and continued, "Would you like to meet him?"
"Sure no problem. Who is he anyway?" Garret asked.
"He's like the really really really oldest pony in the village and he's super nice. He likes to tell stories to all the little fillies here," Pinkie replied while she leads the other two to Rukil and she was still bouncing while doing it.
"How old are we talking here?" asked Applejack.
"He's over hundred years old! Isn't that cool?" Pinkie asked.
"Wow! You weren't kidding about the really really really old part," Garret commented.
As the group was moving, they came upon an old looking tent that was in the middle of the village. Suddenly an old earthpony stallion came out of the tent to see who was visiting him. The stallion was wearing a torn up jacket like the rest of the village. His was bald and had grey eyes as well. Despite what Pinkie said, He didn't look like he was too old to be over a hundred years old. More like he was in his 50's or maybe even 60's. The stallion went up to Pinkie, smiled, and asked, "Pinkie my old friend, what are you doing here so late?"
Pinkie hugged the old stallion and replied, "Rukil I brought these offworlders here to hear the tale of how the outcast came here. Their names are Garret and Applejack."
Applejack lowered her hat down and said, "It's a pleasure to meet y'all."
Garret then said, "It's nice meeting you Rukil."
"It's always a pleasure to meet new ponies that come down from the surface, wanting to know about the village and the ponies that live in them," Rukil said.
"Pinkie said that you would tell us the story about the outcast. I would like to hear about," Garret said.
"Very well then. Sit down and I will tell you the story of the outcast and how we came to be," Rukil said as he was getting a matt to sit on.
As Garret, Applejack, and Pinkie were lying down, A group of fillies came by and saw that Rukil was getting ready to tell a story. They quickly gathered all the other fillies in the village to join the group and hear the tale. They were mostly near Pinkie since they knew her so well and one little filly got on top of Pinkie's head to have a better view of Rukil. Pinkie didn't mind and was glad to help the little filly.
Rukil was clearing his throat and began the story. "For centuries the outcasts have lived in the Undercity for hundreds of generations. We live here because of the greed and selfishness of ponies that lived at the top of Hoovris. They do not see the value of friendship, but only money and power. Overtime the planet was completely covered by the buildings all around us and soon clean water and food were hardly anywhere. The rich soon took what they could and kept it all to themselves, while the poor and helpless were left to starve and suffer. Eventually a civil war broke out where the poor and homeless rose up against the rich and greedy that engulfed the planet. The war was long and harsh and many ponies died trying to take what was left of our planet. Overtime the rich was able to crush the rebels and banished all the survivors down here in the Undercity, as punishment for the rebellion. For centuries we have endured many hardships here, but we have survived this far and we'll continue to do so, until the day we discover the promised land."
All the little fillies were getting excited for what was coming next and Garret and Applejack were confused why they were.
"Yes the promise land. It is the one place in Hoovris that wasn't tainted by the greed of the rich and is the only place that the plants can grow and bear fruits and vegetables,while we can drink clear water that hadn't been filled with toxins or pollutions. Sadly the land was lost to history during the war and finding it would be impossible. But one day it is said that a pony with a kind heart would lead us the path to the land. For now though, we must continue to survive here and pray that we get to see our love ones for another day," Rukil finished.
After Rukil was done, all the fillies said their goodbyes and went to play games or whatever they were doing earlier. Applejack then said to Rukil, "Well thet was good story to hear, but we need to keep moving if we're going to find Vao and Zaalbar.
As Garret, Applejack, and Pinkie were getting up, Rukil spoke up and said, "Ah but the story hasn't ended yet. It will end when you find the journal my family has searched for eons." Rukil pointed at Garret making it clear that he was the pony that Rukil mentioned.
"Wait, What?" Garret said surprised at Rukil said.
"Yes, you," Rukil said.
"Wait a minute here. I get thet you're looking for this promise land, but how do ya know it's Garret here? For all we know Ah could be the promise one too," Applejack tried to point out.
Rukil stared at Applejack for a moment and said, "No you could not be the promise one. Your heart is filled with regret and sorrow. You do not trust your allies and have no friends to rely on. You live in a world that you can only trust yourself and nopony else. And I'm afraid to say that if you continue on the path you have chosen, you will live alone with nopony to ever trust you again."
Applejack was left speechless. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. She wondered how this old pony was able to to know so much about her without revealing anything about her past and what she had to go through.
Garret was confused at what Rukil said to Applejack and wanted to say something, but he wasn't sure what to say and saw that Applejack was trying to hide her face away. Rukil then said to Garret, "When I look at you I see nothing but bravery and kindness in your heart. You are willing to make impossible promises to your friends and will always remain loyal to them. Destiny has indeed a plan for you, but this is but a small step towards it. Will help us in our dire time of need?"
Garret felt honored that Rukil thought he was able to find the promise land for the outcasts, but he also was worried that if he had failed he would let down an entire village. Nevertheless, Rukil was asking for his help and Garret was the type of pony to always help. "I will accept and help find this journal for you."
"I am glad to hear that. Now you must make your journey. Pinkie will explain to you the details and will lend her hoof for assistance," Rukil said and went back into his tent to rest.
The group was at last at the gates of the village. Pinkie went up to the gate's keeper and asked him to lower the gate. He did and let the group continue on.
Sometime had passed since they left and Pinkie was still asking all kinds of questions on the way. Garret wasn't bothered by it, but Applejack's eyes were bloodshot and she was twitching a bit.
She leaned over to Garret and whispered, "How is it that ya can stand all those questions she keeps asking?"
"I don't know. They don't seem to bother me one bit. Are they bothering you?" Garret asked looking back at Applejack.
Applejack was looking at Garret with venomous eyes which made him feel a bit uncomfortable.
"I'll take that as a yes," Garret said while trying not to make eye contact with Applejack.
As the group was moving, Garret remembered earlier about what Rukil said about Applejack and was concerned about her. He then turned back to her and asked, "Hey Applejack, about what Rukil said to you. What did he mean by that?"
Applejack turned her head towards Garret. She didn't want to tell Garret anything and especially about her past. But she remembered what Rukil said about her and decided to be honest with him at the moment. "Let's just say I have problems trusting ponies, even the ones that are on the same side as me," she replied.
"How come you have problems trusting other ponies?" Garret asked.
Applejack sighed and replied, "Because there was a pony thet deceived me and took everything from me. Ever since then, Ah haven't trusted another pony."
"So.....you don't trust me?" Garret asked feeling sorry for what Applejack thinks.
"Ah have nothing against you Garret. Ah'm not sure if you would betray me or not, but Ah can't take that risk again," Applejack replied.
"Applejack, you can count on me for anything and I promise that I would never betray you," Garret declared with a sincere voice.
Applejack was glad to hear what Garret said, but it wasn't the first time she heard those words. She then said, "Ah'm sorry Garret, but it's going to take more than words to convince me otherwise."
Before Garret could say anything else, Pinkie shouted out and yelled, "PONYGHOULS!!!"
Garret and Applejack looked behind them and saw ponyghouls coming there way. Pinkie ran behind the two for cover, while Garret and Applejack readied their blasters.
The ponyghouls were very horrid creatures to look at. Their skin was white with slime on them, they didn't seem to have any eyes at all, and instead of hooves, they had dragon-like claws.
The group got ready to fire their weapons when all of a sudden, they heard a roar coming from out of nowhere.
A large minotaur was charging at the ponyghouls and started tearing them apart with his weird looking hoovies. The ponyghouls were either getting their arms ripped off by the creature or they were thrown into the air by it. One of the ponyghouls was able to get behind it, but before it could do anything it head a voice called out to it.
"Leave him alone you slimewud!"
A little pegasus with orange fur and was wearing a grey vest jumped on top of it's head and made the ponyghoul fall. Before it had a chance to get up, Garret fired his blaster and killed the thing. Applejack then started firing her blaster at the rest of the ponyghouls.
When the battle was won, Applejack, Garret, and Pinkie went to see the ponies that helped them. The little filly then introduces herself. "Hi there, that was some fight we got into. My name is Scootaloo Vao and this here is my big friend Zaalbar," said the little filly when she was patting on the minotaur's legs.
"Wyaaaaaa" Zaalbar said in his native language.
Scootaloo was a little filly with purple and spiky hair and her eyes were purple. Under her gray vest was a black shirt under it and she had a black headband around her forehead. Zaalbar was a tall and buff minotaur, had a dark brown coat and two curved horns. He had what his species would call hands and some sharp teeth in his mouth. His eyes were black.
"Thanks for the help. I didn't think we would get any out here," Garret said.
"It was no problem. I couldn't stand by and let those ponyghouls do anything to you. Right Zaalbar?" Scootaloo said.
"Muawa," Zaalbar said again in his language.
"So you're the little filly that Gavin told us about?" Applejack asked while she was looking down at the filly.
"Gavin? The leader of the Beks? What did he say about me?" Scootaloo asked while raising an eyebrow.
"He said that you can lead us through the-" Garret tried to answer but was interrupted by Pinkie.
"Right into the sewers, so they can get inside the Griffons base, try to find the Beks' prototype engine, win the big Galloping Swoop Race, and rescue their unicorn friend from Gilda," Pinkie answered and smiled after she was done.
"Wait? How did ya know all thet?" Applejack asked wondering how Pinkie knew all this.
"I don't know, I just do," Pinkie said when she shrugged.
Applejack looked at Garret with a confused look and all that Garret could do was just shrug.
"I see you both met Pinkie. Anyways, sure I can lead you there, no problem. Besides I was planning on getting in there anyway," Scootaloo said.
"Really? Why would you do that?" Garret asked surprised that the filly answered so quickly.
"They have information on a friend of mine who went missing. Let's just leave it at that for now," Scootaloo said.
"Okay sure I understand," Garret said.
Zaalbar was telling something to Scootaloo.
Garret over heard what Zaalbar was saying and said, "Don't worry, we're not with the Imperials. We're actually with the Republic."
Everypony, especially Zaalbar, was surprised to find out that Garret understood what he said.
"Wait a moment. Ya can understand what that thing there is saying?" Applejack asked out of curiosity.
Zaalbar roared at Applejack with anger and she started stepping back. Scootaloo then tried to calm him down.
"He doesn't like to be called "it" and yes I can. I'm a scout after all, so I learned all kinds of languages in the galaxy. In case we ever get into trouble," Garret replied.
"Um...right, sorry about thet. Ah was trying not to be rude or anything, it's just that Ah don't know ya that well." Applejack said to Zaalbar and offered her hoof as an apology.
Zaalbar smiled, shook Applejack's hoof, and accepted her apology.
"Well since we have all that out of the way, we better keep moving or otherwise more ponyghouls would come this way," Pinkie said to the group.
Garret turned to Scootaloo and asked, "Right. Scootaloo, can you lead the way?"
"Sure thing just follow me. It will take awhile though, but we are safe as long as we don't make much noises," Scootaloo said and started leading the group until she asked, "By the way, I forgot to ask you two your names."
"Th' name is Applejack Onasi." she answered and gave a simple salute.
"And my name is Garret E'ni," he answered.
"Cool. Alright let's get going we have a lot of ground to go through so stay close," Scootaloo said and led the group.
Sometime had passed and the gang was still following Scootaloo to the entrance to the sewers. Applejack and Garret were watching out for more ponyghouls, while Pinkie was talking to Zaalbar for a long while and he was close to strangling Pinkie because of all the questions and random stories that she was mentioning. All of a sudden Scootaloo stopped and raised a hoof to tell the others to stop. She looked around and listened for a moment.
Then she said, "Everypony get to cover! I hear something coming."
The gang then started hiding behind a nearby boulder and watched out for what was coming. Around the corner of a pile of scrap, a group of ponies were walking by and were being lead by a diamond dog.
He was a large grey hound, much bigger than the ponies he was leading. He was wearing a red vest with a black shirt under it and was wearing a tan pants with armored boots. He had scars all over his face and was carrying a large gun.
The dog then stopped the group and started sniffing around.
"What is it Canderous, is there something out there?" said one of the ponies.
But Canderous didn't say anything and pointed his gun at the boulder. The rest of the group then pointed their guns at the boulder too. "Alright. This how its going to go. Whoever is behind there, move in to the light now or we get to do this the fun way," he announced.
The gang behind the boulder looked at each other. They all nodded in agreement and Garret was the first one to walk away from hiding. "Don't shoot! We won't fire if you don't," Garret said to Canderous and his group.
Canderous and his group lowered their guns, but didn't put them away. Garret waved the others to come out. As the group was coming out of hiding, Canderous then spoke up and said, "Let me guess, you guys are a bunch of scavengers looking for those Republic escape pods?"
Before Garret could answer, Applejack covered his mouth with her hoof and replied, "Yes we are. I'm guessing y'all came down here for th' same reason?" Applejack removed Garret's mouth.
At first Garret didn't understand why Applejack did that, but then he remembered that Pinkie and her did say he wasn't very good at lying. He lowered his head in shame after remembering that.
"You guessed right, but I have some advise. Turn back now if you know what's good for you," Canderous replied.
"Is thet a threat?" Applejack asked giving Canderous a stern look.
"Just a friendly warning. Which I don't like doing all the time. I already lost so many guys down here, we had to leave some equipment behind just to carry all what we got form the pods. Including the pod that unicorn officer that the Griffons captured," Canderous replied
"Wait! That one with the unicorn. Do you know anything about it?" Garret asked hoping that Fluttershy was with Twilight at the pod.
"No not really. There was a unicorn that the Griffons captured. There wasn't anypony else there. Why do you ask? Do you know something about that?" Canderous asked with suspicion.
Before Garret could come up with an excuse, Scootaloo popped in front of him and said, "Well look at the time! We better keep going if we don't want to run into any ponyghouls out here."
Scootaloo started pushing Garret out of the way and started leading the gang back on course towards the sewers. Canderous was curious about the strange pony he met, but dismissed it when he started hearing sounds of ponyghouls in the distance. "We better get moving. I don't want to be the one to explain to Blueblood why we lost some ponies to the ponyghouls," Canderous said as he was leading his group back on their way.
As soon as Canderous and his group was out of Garret's sight, he went over to Scootaloo. "Who was that?" he asked.
"That's Canderous Hound. Blueblood's top gun in his organization," Scootaloo answered.
"Is he friendly?" Garret asked.
"Have you ever seen a nice diamond dog?" Scootaloo replied with a question.
"No," Garret replied.
"Then there is your answer," Scootaloo replied.
Zaalbar was looking at Garret and was talking to him in his language.
"That could be a strong possibility," Garret commented and continue, "Although he does have a really big gun."
Zaalbar just scuffed and continued walking.
Garret then was walking back towards Applejack and said, " Did you hear that Applejack? Fluttershy wasn't with Twilight, while she was captured. We might found her out here in the Undercity."
Applejack frowned at Garret and said, "Garret. There is no way she could have survived down here alone. It's been three days since her escape pod crashed. I'm sorry, but ya have to let it go. Why do ya care so much about her?"
Garret looked at Applejack with a serious look."Because I made a promise to her that I would protect her. I can't explain it, but something is telling me she is alive and we are going to find her no matter what," he said with confidence.
Applejack understood why Garret was determined to find Fluttershy. He was the type of pony that wouldn't give up on others and wouldn't break his promises with anypony. she smiled and said, "Well alright. If ya think she's somewhere to be found then let's give it a try." Applejack went up to Scootaloo and asked, "Hey kid, do ya know where thet escape pod that diamond dog mentioned?"
"Okay first, I'm not a kid. I'm just fourteen years old and second, yes it's actually near one of the sewer entrances. We can run by it if you want." Scootaloo said.
"Yes we would like to check it out," Applejack replied.
"Okay then we'll stop by it and I'll take you guys over to the sewers," Scootaloo said leading the group towards the escape pod.
After some time, the gang finally found the escape pod. The pod was damaged and it looked like it was stripped apart. Garret and Applejack looked around the pod, while the rest of the gang were watching out for more ponyghouls or anypony else.
A bit of time passed, until Garret shouted towards Applejack. She went over to Garret to see what he wanted.
"Did you found anything?" Applejack asked.
"Yeah, I found a med-pack here. It must belong to Fluttershy," Garret speculated while he was holding the medpack.
"Thet's good to hear. Anything else?" Applejack asked.
"I also found some hoofprints near it. They're hard to see, but it looks like they go in that direction. They might be Fluttershy's," Garret said and pointed to where the hoofprints went.
"Where do ya think she headed for?" Applekjack asked while looking in the direction of the hoofprints.
"Hmmm, don't know. She might have tried to find help somewhere," Garret said. Then a thought had occurred in his mind and asked Scootaloo to come over to where they were.
"Did you need me for something?" Scootaloo asked.
"We found some hoofprints here. Do you know where they might have gone to?" Garret asked.
Scootaloo looked at the hoofprints and the direction they went. She was shocked to see where they were headed and said, "These hoofprints go straight to one of the sewer entrances."
"I think I know what happened here," Garret said.
"Really? What do ya think happened here?" Applejack asked.
"I think Fluttershy must have tried to found help for Twilight. I guess Twilight might have been knocked out, otherwise those Griffons wouldn't have caught her so easily. Fluttershy must have come back and saw that Twilight wasn't here. She looked around the pod for anything else and went in that direction," Garret explained and pointed at the hoofprints.
Applejack caught on to what Garret was saying and said, "Then she must have come upon the entrance in the sewers and went in."
"Exactly," Garret replied.
"So it looks like we have three things to do in the sewers," Applejack said.
"Find the Griffons' underground back door," Scootaloo added.
"Find the lost journal to the promise land," Pinkie added with a smile.
"And rescue Fluttershy," Garret added and started leading the group.
The group made their way to the sewer entrance. Unaware of the dangers that dwell there and the risks that they would have to undertake.
END OF CHAPTER 3