Chapter 25: Through The Barricades
“Good afternoon, mares and gentlecolts, and welcome once again to the station that makes your days brighter and your nights shinier! Yes, you guessed it, you’re listening to New Pegasus Radio, and I am your host, Miss New Pegasus, ready and eager to bring you the best music and the most relevant news of the Wasteland! That last hour was intense, wasn’t it? The Molerat Pack, performing live with a full orchestra, is something worth millions, don’t you think? You know what I like the most? Their attitude when they’re on stage. It’s like they were teasing each other, trying to pull pranks or defying each other to outsing the rest. They sure know how to put up a real show, and they have been doing so for a long while. It’s great to hear such a performance live, but the recorded version is also worth listening to!
Music will be back shortly, but we need to move on to the news. There have been several reports of unrest in town in the last hours, but according to the Spokespony of the Council, Desert Rose, they have been the product of the insurrection of two members of the City Board, Saddle Buckmare and Ampera Von Ohm. Let’s not forget that these two ponies were married to each other, and that they used to work together in their affairs of state. It seems that their relationship helped to create a conspiracy that attempted to topple the current Government and bring it crashing down. What the plans of this couple were is something that remains a mystery, as Spokespony Rose has not mentioned any reason for their sudden upheaval. Anyway, it seems that things have been already sorted out and the standing Council, led by Farsight, keeps in control of the City.
However, these revolts have caused a fairly unwanted effect, as the New Equestrian Republic swiftly removed their embassy in town, evacuating Ambassador Merry Fields to a safe location beyond the walls of New Pegasus. At the same time, there have been reports of part of the NER Army redirecting towards the City, in a move that is worrisome and incomprehensible at the same time. What does the Republic want to achieve by sending troops to our gates? Is it for protection or has the Government of New Canterlot got other plans for our City?
We have tried to ask the Council about this particular matter, but they seem to know as much as we do. According to the Spokespony, their last contact with Republican authorities took place a week ago, and there has been no communication from the Two Unicorns ever since. At the question of whether we should prepare for a forthcoming invasion, the young mare shrugged and said that they were working on it. Frankly, we know that the Council is working on it, but things are starting to look grim, and I think that everypony agrees in the fact that we could use some more answers.
While we have that particular matter to worry about, the War keeps raging outside, and the forces of the Tsardom are about to take over the East Bank of Hoofer Dam. The High Command of the Republican Army doesn’t seem to be willing to call for a retreat, but the last remaining Rangers are entrenched and under siege by hordes of troops that are on the verge of breaking through their lines. Whatever the outcome of the battle is, there is no doubt that the delaying action developed by these forces will have been crucial to the interests of the Republic. Ponies like those are heroes, there is no doubt about it. Those who send them to die, on the other hoof, are not too worthy of praise, in my humble opinion.
Anyway, that’s all for this hour, mares and gentlecolts! We’ll be back in sixty minutes, letting you know how all these issues have developed. In the meantime, let’s get back to this magnificent recording of the Molerat Pack, live from the Grand Concert Hall of the Clops! You know, there’s a funny story about this particular show… legend has it that a certain security guard jumped onto the stage to sing with the three crooners, in order to impress a young mare of his liking! We don’t know whether this tale is true or fake, but it sure is funny! Remember, you are listening to New Pegasus Radio, and I am your host, Miss New Pegasus, speaking directly into your hearts!”
A father. I was going to be a father… I never thought there would be something that could simply leave me totally dumbstruck for minutes, but there I was, staring into infinity, babbling incoherent words, while Avro giggled and swept a hoof up and down in front of my face. I could see the white fur flashing before my eyes, but I was simply too blocked to actually react. A father! Sweet Celestia, I couldn’t believe it!
“R-really?” I managed to mumble. “A father?”
“Yes, dummy!” Avro giggled and snugged me. “It’s what happens when stallions and mares…”
“I know.” I grunted. “Still, I never saw it coming… when did you find out?”
“I was feeling a bit under the weather lately, so I went to the Fort, to have Mixer do a check-up on me. He told me that I was expecting a foal, and judging by the time frame, it has to be yours.”
“Wow… I don’t know what to say.” I mumbled. “I never expected this to happen.”
“Well, it has, Farsight.” Avro smiled kindly. “I love you, and I want the three of us to be a family.”
“Avro, this doesn’t change my stance towards you.” I replied.
“But you said you needed me.”
“I do, I still do.” I smiled, calming her. “And believe me, we will be a family, but there are many things that we have to work out.”
“I need to learn to trust you, Avro.” I shook my head. “If we’re going to raise a foal together, we need to be able to count on each other, without any kind of secret. I guess you don’t have a problem with that, do you?”
“Of course not, sweetheart.” Avro smiled adorably.
“You promise me that you’ll never lie to me again?” I asked.
“Of course.” Avro nodded.
“Over your own foal’s soul?” I said sternly. “Do you promise that you won’t use me for your own devices, Avro DeHavilland?”
“Stop being so theatrical, Farsight!” Avro giggled.
“Please, answer me.” I frowned.
“Okay, all right.” Avro laughed. “Yes, Farsight, I promise. No more lies from now on.”
“Good.” I kissed her gently. “That’s a great place to start from.”
“So, what are you going to do now, Farsight?” Avro asked. “After all that we’ve been through… now that all that is behind us, what should be our next move?”
“I don’t know, Avro.” I let myself fall and laid on the couch. “Frankly, there is a war still raging out there, and I know for certain that the Tsardom wants to come and destroy the entire city.”
“In that case, we should prepare our defences!” Avro pranced, opening her wings wide.
“What would it be good for?” I shrugged. “The majority of the population hasn’t handled a gun in years, and it’s a bit too late to start training them.”
“What about the robots?”
“They would give us some time, but once they start to fall, there would be no chance to repair them before the Tsar broke our defences.” I mumbled. “Sunset Hills was devised to act as a robopony factory, but all the issue with Ilyushin sent all my plans for the industrial area to the ground.”
“Then what can we do?”
“We must count on the Republic. As much as I dislike that, we need to be ready to help them hold Hoofer Dam. After all, the Dam is a narrow pass. All his number advantage would be depleted there, as long as the NER is able to hold the line.”
“The Tsar hasn’t got pegasi on his side, has he?”
“Not that I know of.” I shrugged. “However, the Republic is supposed to have an Air Force… I wonder what’s taking them so long to deploy it against the Tsar.”
“Pegasi alone are weak targets.” Avro frowned. “That’s why we built the airships. The Republic will need support if it wants to strike from the air, and the Divide is a tricky place to fly through.”
“What about Divide Pass?”
“According to our charts in Breakeven Point, the width of the Pass is really small up in the air. You would need a really good pilot to get an airship through.”
“I see… that would explain it.” I smiled. “Anyway, that means that we’re pretty much in a pinch, Avro. We can’t do anything about the Tsar, but we can’t ignore him either. For now, I need to rest a little bit… All of this has been exhausting.”
Avro giggled and jumped on top of me, enveloping me with her wings.
“Don’t worry, I’ll help you relax.” She smiled cunningly, and went on to kiss me.
Suddenly, as I was ready to enjoy the moment, the elevator beeped and the door opened, making us both squeak and jump, like two foals caught in a compromising situation. I looked beyond Avro’s wings and saw an olive-colored pegasus walk into the room with a careless smile in his face. He was dressed in style, with sharp beige trousers and a deep blue shirt that blended in with his turquoise mane.
“Am I interrupting something?” Pet smiled.
“It had to be you, Pet.” Avro smirked. “Oh my, what a look!”
“You like it? I paid a visit to one of the local outfitters. Frankly, you do have a good taste when it comes to clothing!”
“Oh, hi, Pet!” I waved from beneath Avro.
“Hi, Farsight.” Pet smiled and waved back. “It’s good to see you alive and kicking. You haven’t wasted your time, I see.”
“Life is short, you know.” I shrugged. “What brings you here, Pet?”
“Rose needs you in the Council Hall… as soon as possible.”
“I see.” I groaned. “It’s not pretty, isn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t bet on it, Farsight.” Pet shook his head.
“Damn.” I grunted. “Let’s not waste a single second, then. Avro, would you be so kind?”
“Oh, of course.” The pegasus flapped her wings and landed on the floor, giving me the chance to get back up.
“Let me just grab a suit.” I said, heading for my room. “I’ll be with you in no time.”
“Always in style, Farsight?” Pet asked snarkily.
“Always, Pet.” I replied while laughing. “Always.”
*** *** ***
Avro and I followed Petlyakov back into the Council Hall Building, wondering about what was so important to have us quickly summoned to a meeting, considering that it hadn’t been more than ten hours since I had wiped part of the Council out. Rose had to be very worried about something to send the pegasus engineer to my place. I walked confidently, despite the scars I was now forced to wear. The one on my face made me look bad, pretty much like a mobster of the old times, turning my usual expression into a sardonic smirk. Anyway, wearing a clean suit felt like a blessing after all that I had been through.
Besides, I saw Avro under a different light now. She kept being a treacherous liar, but she had an incentive to stay true to me now. If we were to break up, she had much more to lose than a position of power. She would also lose a father for the foal she carried inside her, and as much as it would hurt me to build a wall between us, I know that she would feel worse, having to be reminded of me every single day he saw her offspring. That analysis didn’t mean that I wanted it to happen, but I couldn’t stop my brain from processing all the data that surrounded me.
We walked into the hall itself, where I had been judged a day earlier. This time, Rose stood beside the meeting table, walking up and down with a concerned expression in her face. Meanwhile, Dee and Nadyr mumbled things to each other, looking really worried as well. Something was terribly off, and things were about to get really complicated. That’s what their faces told me.
“What’s going on, Rose?” I asked.
“Take a look at the battle map.” The mare pointed at the screen on the wall. “The NER has begun to move… differently.”
“What do you mean?”
“The Republic is sending troops towards New Pegasus.” Nadyr groaned. “They’re still two or three days away from the City, but their destination is no longer Hoofer Dam. They are coming for us, without a doubt.”
“Do we have any proof that they have been sent here?” I asked, trying to grasp the intentions of the Twin Unicorns.
“No, but you know that they sent an ultimatum.” Dee shook her head. “My gut tells me that their movements will have something to do with it.”
“I supposed as much…” I groaned. “But we can’t take any action without knowing things with certainty. We’re risking to start a war with the only ones that can defend us from the Tsar.”
“Why does the Tsar want to take New Pegasus?” Dee asked. “We could negotiate our neutrality.”
“There is a little problem regarding that. It’s not the Tsar who worries me, it’s his field commander, Nevski… or Delvio Ferratura, as we used to know him around here.”
“Delvio is alive?” Nadyr gasped.
“Indeed, and he wants to burn New Pegasus to the ground… with us in it. That’s why we need the Republic.”
“Does it mean you’ll greet their occupation?” Dee groaned.
“Not at all.” I replied calmly. “We just need to settle an alliance.”
“What makes you think they’ll give in?”
“I don’t know, but that doesn’t mean that we mustn’t try.”
“Frankly, Farsight… considering the threats they made last time…” Dee shook her head. “I have very little hopes about a treaty with the NER.”
“Hey, everypony!” Pet shouted. “Look, there’s an incoming transmission from the NER!”
“Speak of the devil…” I grunted. “Patch it through.”
The battle map was substituted by Praline’s stern face, that became even sterner when she saw me sitting at the Council Table. I had a really bad feeling about that surprise call, but I had to try and move the odds to my favour… even if they were all against me.
“I didn’t expect to see you again, Farsight.” Praline’s voice was cold and cutting, like a sword made of ice.
“I think the feeling is mutual, Praline. When I saw you leave eight years ago, I hoped that it would be the last time I would have to endure talking to you.”
“How bold of you, Farsight, considering your situation.”
“My situation? Shouldn’t we be speaking about your situation?”
“I think yours is a little bit more delicate.” She grinned, and that was no good signal. “You have made one big mistake, you know?”
“What? You mean getting rid of that bombastic Fleet? I never thought you would endorse such a bunch of lunatics… and besides, if you didn’t want me to mess with them, you could have told me.”
“Commander Ilyushin was a fair pony, Farsight.” Praline hissed. “His Fleet could have given us the edge in the battle against those barbarians, but you had to intervene.”
“It was either them or me. Ilyushin wasn’t too prone to diplomatic solutions.”
“You weren’t, either.” Praline looked at me with a chilling gaze. “And in virtue of the treaty the New Equestrian Republic signed with the Communist Pegasi Front, I hereby declare war upon the City of New Pegasus and its population. My troops are already on their way to your walls, and the banner of the NER will soon be hanging from each and every pole in the Strip. Say goodbye to your little kingdom, Farsight.”
The transmission ended with a faint beep, leaving us all cold and devastated. It was, indeed, the worst case scenario that any of us could have actually pictured, and it was already in motion. In a matter of two or three days, the city would be under siege by the forces of the Republic, and there would be nothing to do about it. My mind started working like crazy, trying to devise a plan that could give us the victory against the treacherous forces of the NER.
“What are we going to do?” Avro whined.
“How long can the city subsist, in the event of a siege?” Pet asked calmly.
“Not for too long.” Dee shook her head. “Our supplies were mostly based upon trader caravans, and I am certain that the Republic will have already blockaded them. There will be no more food for New Pegasus, and our reserves will deplete quickly.”
“Can we fight?” Nadyr asked.
“Not really…” I mumbled. “Most of the population is not prepared for a wartime scenario. We would collapse in a matter of minutes.”
“What about air support?” Pet said.
“No, no, no.” Avro shook her head violently. “Have you seen the cannons they have? They would tear us apart!”
“Then what are we supposed to do?” Rose mumbled. “Do we have to surrender?”
“No way!” Dee whined. “I’d rather die than see the Republic in New Pegasus!”
“We must evacuate the city.” I said coldly.
“What? Are you kidding?”
“No, I’m dead serious.” I grunted. “We are New Pegasus. The ponies, the population. Wherever we are, we will be able to start from scratch and rebuild a new city… all of this is… expendable.”
“I agree.” Rose nodded. “If we cling to this spot, we will be defeated. If we make a run for it, on the other hoof…”
“Basically, we run and hide until the storm is over, right?” Pet grinned.
“More or less.” I shrugged. “However, the storm will have to be very big to stop them from going against us in a long time. That’s the only way we can start over in peace.”
“As much as I’d love to agree with you, we don’t really have a place to run to, have we?” Dee asked.
“Certainly, we do.” I walked to the terminal and jacked my PipBuck. An instant later, a marker appeared in the battlemap, close to the Divide.
“What is that?”
“According to Ampera, that is the location of an old Steel Ranger bunker called Fortune’s Loss.” I replied. “If she was telling me the truth, there should be an old abandoned base that ought to be full of supplies, ammo, medicines and food. I think it can be the best place to start a new community.”
“Won’t the troops of the Republic find it someday?”
“Well, I doubt they’ll want to get close.” Pet walked to the map and waved a hoof around the Divide. “See? It’s very close to the Divide.”
“Does that mean it’s a dangerous place?”
“Take it easy.” Pet laughed. “It’s not dangerous at all. It may be windy and a bit harsh, but the Divide acts like a wall that protects those small valleys. You won’t have to worry about ponies coming from your back.”
“I see.” Dee scratched her muzzle. “Anyway, the Republic is bound to find Fortune’s Loss someday. If they keep scouting the Territory they’ll get there.”
“That’s why we need to provide a distraction.” I groaned.
“What sort of distraction?”
“I’m still thinking about it.”
“Fine, fine, we’ll sort that out later.” Rose nodded. “How do we get there without the NER hunting us down?”
“I was thinking on setting up a sort of caravan.” I replied. “We get the ponies moving, as well as their possessions. They will have to leave things behind, that’s for certain, but if we do things right, we will be able to relocate the population before the Republic closes the trap around New Pegasus.”
“Do you think it will work?”
“The Republic tends to be very respectful towards trade caravans.” I shrugged. “However, we should get the ponies moving before it’s too late.”
“What do you mean by too late?”
“Well, if the NER forces encircle the City, there will be no way of getting out. We need to evacuate before that happens.”
“I don’t think that will be possible.” Rose shook her head. “There is too much to organize, too many ponies to relocate, before we can even leave.”
“I understand.” I nodded. “In that case, I suggest we send a detachment. Get a group of able ponies, guards, workers, and some random population; grab your gear, and make a run for it before the Republic chokes us.”
“What about the rest of us?” Avro asked.
“We’ll figure something out.” I replied. “One question, Pet…”
“Yeah?” Pet shook.
“Do you think your mates from Breakeven Point could help on the construction of Fortune’s Loss?”
“Certainly! Besides, we have many materials in the old pegasus base.” Pet smiled broadly. “I’ll ping Bleriot and tell him to start working.”
“Perfect.” I smiled as well. “Now, we need somepony to lead the expedition, and I want it to be you, Dee. It will be your mission… and your punishment for your betrayal. I’m sending you to exile.”
“It sounds fair to me.” Dee nodded.
“Bro…” Nadyr muttered. “If she goes, I go. All of us go.”
“Is that what you wish, Nadyr?” I asked, feeling sad about his stance. I knew he would say that, and yet, I didn’t want to lose him. He was one true friend.
“We’re a family, Farsight. What will Atreid and Harko feel when they leave her mother aside, maybe to never see her again?”
“Fair enough, Nadyr. I respect you and I respect your decisions.” I nodded.
“We should get moving.” Dee said calmly. “We need to find a proper group and equip it for the Wasteland.”
Dee and Nadyr left the room hastily, and I couldn’t help feeling a hint of sadness for my old companion and his wife. Their endeavour was full of dangers, and I might be sending them to their deaths. However, it was what had to be done.
“Will they have enough time?” Rose mumbled. “The Republic is closing in fast.”
“I thought as much.” I smiled. “Pet, could you reach Aichi from here?”
“Of course.” Pet nodded and fiddled with the terminal. Some seconds later, the battlemap disappeared and the face of a pegasus mare showed in the screen.
“Aichi here.” She said.
“Hi, Aichi, Farsight here.” I replied. “How are things going in Neighliss?”
“We can hear the explosions from here, boss. The war is getting closer every day.” Aichi looked worried. “If things get too hot we’ll have to withdraw.”
“Easy now, Aichi, I have one task for you.”
“I want you to fire the remaining missiles at the Republican posts in the East and West banks of Hoofer Dam. Then, get the hell out of there and return to Breakeven Point as soon as possible. Understood?”
“But that would open the gates to the Tsardom!” Rose squealed.
“Of course it will, and in the meantime, it will buy us enough time to organize the evacuation.” I grinned.
“Didn’t Delvio say he wanted to crush you?” Pet asked.
“He did. However, he will have to deal with the Republic first, if he wants to get to New Pegasus. The NER, on the other hoof, will have to choose between getting here or stopping the Tsar’s pony tide. I’m guessing they’ll go for the second option.”
“What if they don’t?”
“We’ll have to take that chance.” I shrugged. “Right now, we’re in no position to play safe.”
“I have to agree with Farsight on that one.” Pet nodded.
“Do I fire the missiles, Farsight?” Aichi asked over the communicator.
“Understood. Setting coordinates… firing missiles.”
The sound of a dozen of roaring rocket engines deafened us, while Aichi nodded and roared an order that we couldn’t hear.
“Missiles out, sir.” Aichi smiled. “Permission to retreat?”
“Acknowledged.” I replied. “Thank you, Aichi. Have a safe flight home.”
“No problem, sir. Aichi out.”
The screen turned black and the map appeared once again, while the banks of Hoofer Dam were being turned to burning craters because of our attack. I would have loved to have heard the communication channels of the Republican troops when they realized that they were being backstabbed by a small and apparently powerless city. Suddenly, a new communication broke our meeting, and the irate face of Harpsong Heartstrings appeared on the screen.
“What the fuck was that?” She roared.
“It’s called a missile attack, Harpsong.” I smiled smugly. “We’re at war, remember?”
“Of course I do, Farsight.” She spewed pure rage. “And I also know that this despicable attack of yours will have consequences. You have wiped out our best troops, giving the Dam to the Tsar and his maniacs!”
“Then I should be happy, shouldn’t I? The pain of my enemy is my pleasure.”
“Oh, no. Our pain shall be your despair, Farsight. I’m going to lead the attack against New Pegasus myself, and I swear that when I get my hooves on you, I’m going to tear you apart.”
“Harpsong, my dearest Harpsong, how can you even say that?” I whined theatrically. “After all the good times we’ve been through, I expected a little more understanding from you. You were so kind and warm that night…”
“Don’t even mention that night.” She hissed. “If I had known what you were up to, I would have let you out to burn in the desert.”
“Such bitterness is improper of you, Harpsong.” I winked. “It even sounds… defeatist.”
“Defeatist, you say? You’re a bit too cocky for a pony that is cornered.”
“I have nothing to lose, so I might as well show some pride.” I shrugged.
“Do what you wish, but I swear to Celestia that I will make you swallow it whole.”
“Sure, go ahead. However, you are forgetting one thing.”
“A certain group of enemy soldiers that will be overflowing your right flank if you insist on coming to get me, Harpsong. You know them; rude, harsh, wearing dragon helmets… the kind of ponies you wouldn’t invite for dinner.”
“Ha ha.” Harpsong smirked. “You are one pain in the flank, Farsight.”
“I feel honored for those kind words.” I bowed.
“Go to hell.” She fumed, and stopped the transmission.
“Well, that was rude.” I laughed.
“They haven’t liked your plan, Farsight.” Rose mumbled. “Now they have another reason to get to New Pegasus.”
“That doesn’t really worry me.” I sighed. “As soon as the Tsardom crosses the Dam, the Republic will be in such a tight spot that they will give us time to handle things.”
“Really? Can we evacuate the whole town?”
“I didn’t say that.” I groaned. “I said that we’ll be able to get things sorted out… there are more ways to escape this situation than evacuating the City.”
“What do you mean?” Rose blinked.
“Patience, Rose.” I grinned.
“Farsight!” A guard entered the room at full gallop. “The caravan is ready to leave. You might want to speak to them one last time.”
“Certainly!” I pranced. “After you.”
*** *** ***
The Strip was packed with lots of ponies dressed in Wasteland gear, armored, grizzled and mostly scared. Many of the members of the caravan had been born and raised in New Pegasus, and they simply had no idea of what stood behind the City Gates. One could see tough stallions, frail mares, foals and fillies, even elderly ponies that might not make it to their destination, but it was better than to be trapped between two tides. On the front end of the caravan, checking some supply chariots that had been somehow smuggled into town, Dee was walking up and down nervously, clad in a leather armor that gave her a funny look.
Meanwhile, Nadyr stood close to a group of guards, talking about the state of the guns and the route they would have to take to get to Fortune’s Loss without risking an encounter with the Republic or the Tsardom; while Atreid and Harko were sitting on a chariot, looking at the neon lights of New Pegasus with a sad face. It was their home, and it would always be; but they were forced to leave forever.
“Farsight, you’re here.” Dee smiled.
“You seem worried.” I replied with another smile.
“Wouldn’t you be? We don’t know what we will face out there.”
“Trust me, it’s not that bad. The real danger is not the Wasteland, but the ponies out there. By which I mean the forces of the NER and the Tsar, naturally.”
“I guessed as much.” Dee shrugged. “Anyway, Farsight, what are we supposed to do once we get there?”
“You should find a bunker there.” I replied. “If Ampera didn’t lie to me, there should be enough supplies to help you start anew. Besides, Pet and his team will be there, guarding the skies.”
“I see. Well, there is more to win than there is to lose, isn’t it?” Dee smiled sadly. “Anyway, Farsight, the ponies are scared. Many of them haven’t seen the Wasteland… I suppose you should speak to them.”
“Yes, you’re right.” I nodded, and I jumped onto a chariot, so that everypony could see me. Then, using my magic as a loudspeaker, I addressed the caravaneers.
“My friends!” I said with a calm and solemn tone. “My brothers and sisters, we are facing dire times indeed. This world is harsh and unforgiving, and it has turned its back on us, putting New Pegasus in a terrible situation. We can’t remain here no longer, for the forces that are beginning to engulf us have clearly stated that they want us as a hunting prize; but I promise you that it won’t happen! We have been free for two centuries, and we will keep being free, even if it’s in a different place! I know that you all have ties to these streets and buildings… memories, possessions, wealth. Those ties are hard to sever, there is no denying that, but New Pegasus is not a bunch of old buildings! Not at all! The soul of New Pegasus resides in its citizens, in the ponies that have written the tale of their lives within these walls, and New Pegasus will endure as long as those tales have a continuity. That’s why we have to leave, we have to endure our exodus into a new safe haven. A safe haven that is close, and that will be the birthplace of a new town that will endure another two centuries or more! Fear not the Wasteland, for I have seen it, and it’s nothing that any of you can’t confront. Beware of the ponies you might find, for their intentions towards you might not be noble, and keep together through the journey. Follow your leader, Dee Cleff, with faith and patience; and I promise that this particular chapter of your lives will have a happy ending.”
The caravan stirred, a rumbling noise echoing through its members, until one pony began to cheer my name. Suddenly, as if swallowed by the tide, the rest of the ponies pranced and yelled, dispelling their fears in an exercise of self-motivation. They just needed the proper push, and they would believe in themselves.
“Nice job, Farsight.” Dee smiled and nodded, while I jumped down from the chariot and returned to the head of the caravan. “That was what they needed to hear. Not one word more, not one less.”
“I’ve always known how to string words together.” I smiled.
“Of course you have.” Dee smiled too, and hugged me. “Thank you, Farsight, for these eight years.”
“You’re welcome, Dee. Good luck in your journey.”
Nadyr came by, barely holding the tears back. It was a rather uncanny image, that of the cold killer almost broken by the feelings, and it made me smile and shed a tear as well. We had lived so many things together, that it was hard to see him leave.
“Bro, gimme a hug.” He embraced me tightly, about to cry. “I’m going to miss you.”
“Me too, Nadyr, me too.” I patted him on the back. “We’ve been through quite a lot of things, haven’t we?”
“Yeah. Remember when we first met?”
“Of course I do, Mister Black.”
“Heh, yes, Mister Blue. You couldn’t even fire straight.”
We both laughed and stood embraced in silence, letting the tears flow freely.
“Goodbye, Farsight. I would like to say ‘until we meet again’, but I think that you have other things in mind.”
“I might have, but I haven’t decided anything yet. Good luck, my brother.”
We broke our embrace while Dee controlled the opening of the gates. The first chariots were already leaving New Pegasus, and the caravan began moving slowly, like a giant snake slowly crawling through the sandy floor, heading for an uncertain destination. The half-zebra turned around and joined his wife in one last adventure, crossing the walls and walking into the open Wasteland once more… this time, however, I wouldn’t be by his side.
As the last members of the caravan left the City and the gates closed behind them, I began to put the last steps of my plan into motion. There was one loose end I wanted to tie before it was too late, and I needed somepony to help me with that. I walked back into the Council Hall at the fastest pace I could, trying to find one certain pegasus that would answer the questions I had. Petlyakov was lazing around in the Council Hall room, lying on the table while whistling a tune. He was a funny individual indeed.
“Pet, I need your help.” I asked.
“Oh, Farsight!” He rolled and jumped back onto the floor. “Sorry about that… what do you need me for?”
“First of all, I need to ask you some questions.”
“In the event of a cataclysm… let’s say, a balefire attack over New Pegasus… would the Divide react in some way?”
“Well, it depends on the magnitude of the attack… However, considering how far we are from the Divide, I hardly believe it would be affected by any weapon that we know of being fired here.”
“Then, what would happen to Fortune’s Loss?”
“I’d say that they wouldn’t even notice.” Pet grinned. “I see where you’re going, Farsight, and let me tell you one thing: It’s a great idea, an example of calculated risks.”
“Cut the crap, Pet.”
“Sure, Farsight. Anyway, Fortune’s Loss is shielded by the Divide, and the winds usually blow away from it. Any trace of radiation from New Pegasus wouldn’t reach the new settlement. I can give you a 95 percent probability.”
“Those are strong numbers.”
“Besides, should things get ugly, we could relocate the population in Breakeven Point.”
“How will you manage that?”
“We have some Mystrals left. It wouldn’t be too hard to organize a working cab service.”
“Ha ha, pegasus cabbies.” I laughed. “I would love to see that.”
“Farsight, please, let’s keep things professional.” Pet smiled.
“Yeah, yeah.” I waved a hoof dismissively. “I think that you know what I’m going to ask you…”
“You tend to be a surprising fellow, Farsight. Tell me what you want.”
“I need the Enola rigged to blow.” I said sternly. “At full power.”
“I knew it.” Pet nodded. “It can be done quickly. What sort of igniting mechanism do you want? A timer? Proximity? Booby trap?”
“Just a trigger. I’ll fire it myself.”
“But… where will you hide from the explosion?”
“Who says that I’m going to hide?”
“I see.” Pet remained silent. “Well, if that’s your will, I’m not the one to judge. I’ll give you a working trigger… do you want it built into your office in the Spire?”
“That will do.”
“Cool. I’ll have Junkers make the connections… we should get it done in a couple of hours.” Pet smiled sadly. “One more thing, though, Farsight… what about the rest of the population?”
“There’s a working Stable beneath the City. I’ll make use of it… which leads me to another question.”
“What is it?”
“How long will the radiation endure?”
“Hm… considering the data we have on gemstone depletion… I’d say that three years is a lower boundary. After that time, the levels of radiation will be bearable, as long as you don’t stay around the blast area for too long. Of course, the longer you wait, the safer it will be.”
“Three years… it will have to do.” I mumbled. “By the way, Pet, would you be able to fit a small holding Vault into the underhalls of the Horseshoe?”
“According to the city blueprints, there’s already one you could use. It’s on room A16, level B1.”
“Perfect.” I nodded. “Thank you, Pet… carry on to prepare the Enola. I’ll have another matter to attend to.”
*** *** ***
Standing in front of the large cog-shaped gate, I felt as if my life was coming to a point of convergence. I had descended into the tunnel with a strange feeling in my gut, similar to the one I felt in the old Neighorleans, and for a moment, I expected to see my younger self creeping out of the Stable, weak, scared and broken. However, there was nothing more in that tunnel than me, the gate, the sewer exit that Ampera had diligently provided, and twenty heavily armed guards that would help me carry on with that final task.
I walked to the terminal that governed the gate controls, while feeling a strange mixture of emotions. It was a return to my past, yes, but to a part of my past that I really despised. The hypocrisy, the corrupt hierarchy, the injustice that had been taking place within those walls was simply terrible. On the other hoof, I felt that it was my duty to do what I was about to do, but it was a duty that I was simply willing to undertake. In fact, I had the hunch that I would clearly enjoy that moment.
The terminal clicked and beeped while my PipBuck fought the security protocols. Probably, the ponies inside would have already noticed that there was something tinkering with their main gate, so I warned the guards that followed me to be on alert. Some minutes later, the terminal gave in and the large gate began to move, screeching and moaning as it was removed from its place and rolled aside.
The lights of the Stable entrance filled the tunnel, and we began to march into the steel-plated chambers of the underground shelter. Soon, a group of security enforcers, dressed in those hateful yellow and blue jumpsuits, tried to stop our group. We showed them no mercy, as shotgun pellets ripped their flesh and shattered their bones. They were only the first.
By the time we got to the Atrium, there were already dozens of ponies waiting, looking worried and scared, as they had heard gunshots inside the Stable corridors. I walked in front of my group of guards, smiling carelessly as I saw the faces of my former neighbors looking at me in astonishment.
“Isn’t that…” I heard.
“It is! Look at him!”
“He can’t be… he’s covered in scars!”
“It’s been eight years, you moron. We don’t know squat about the world out there, so a bunch of scars is more than likely.”
“Is he really Farsight?”
“Yes, he is! What is he doing here?”
“Does the Overmare know?”
Ah, the Overmare. It all boilt down to her.
“Somepony let her know Farsight’s here… and that he’s not alone.”
“What does he want?”
“I have no idea…”
“Is it because of the Lottery?”
“I suppose, why else would he come here with those ponies?”
Hearing them suffer as they imagined what they were about to be a part of made me smile in glee. I have never considered myself a sadist, nor have I enjoyed with the suffering of other ponies, but my wish for revenge was starting to be fulfilled. It had been there, dormant for eight long years, while I fought to reach the top, but I had never forgotten about it. It was something that would appear in my sleep every now and then, and that I would dismiss with a ‘later’, but there would be no more delays. Their time had come.
“What is all this racket?” The Overmare’s voice rose over the multitude. Oh Luna, was I going to enjoy this.
“My dearest Overmare!” I pranced. “It’s been a very long time, so good to see you!”
“Yes, Overmare, it’s me.” I smiled dimly. “Have you missed me all these years?”
“I… err… uh…” She was conflicted between what she wanted to say and what she had to say. “Does that even matter, Farsight?”
“Of course it doesn’t.” I laughed. “I haven’t really missed the Stable, Overmare. I was just playing with you. Please forgive me.”
“Na-naturally. What brings you here, Farsight?”
“Well, it has been a really long time since I was forced to leave this place, so I thought I could return and pay you a small visit, don’t you think? Just for old times’ sake.”
“I see… then what about all these armed ponies? Why did you shoot the entrance guards?”
“My friends can be a bit twitchy sometimes… I pray for your forgiveness.” I lowered my head theatrically. “I didn’t know what sort of a welcome I would get, so I brought them for protection… that is all.”
“Protection from a group of unarmed ponies?”
“I am only one. If you wanted to, you could break me to smithereens.”
“We’re not violent, Farsight. I don’t know what the outside world has done to you, but we try to abide some rules down here.”
“Certainly, Overmare.” I smiled. “There are some things that I would like to discuss with you in private… could we continue this conversation in your office?”
“Sure. Follow me.”
The Overmare walked in front of me, opening a path through the mass of scared Stable Dwellers, who mumbled in low-pitched voices and looked at me and my guards with primal fear written all over their faces. They knew what was coming to them, but they clung to the hope of something else taking place. We reached her office on the top floor, with a round window overlooking the large Atrium where all the ponies had been gathered. She sat on her chair behind the standard Stable-Tec desk, while I made myself comfortable before her.
“What do you want from us, Farsight?”
“Answers, Overmare. Did you know that there is a City right above Stable 188?”
“A City? What city?”
“The City of New Pegasus, Overmare. A large, vivid, working town that had been standing for over more than two hundred years, unharmed by the War.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“Look at me, Overmare. Does it look like I come from a barren Wasteland?”
“You’re wearing a sharp suit… so I guess that’s a no.”
“Exactly. Don’t go telling me that you didn’t know about it. Even with the Lottery and all that.”
“Frankly, Farsight, you’ll have to trust me.” The Overmare lowered her head. “We lived ignorant of the outer world. My predecessor gave me the instructions recorded by Scootaloo herself and told me that we would be safe as long as we stayed within the walls. The gate would be opened only once a year, because it was dangerous to have the mechanism working at a higher rate… and because the world outside was apparently uninhabitable.”
“And yet, we kept sending ponies outside, to their apparent deaths.”
“It was a sacrifice that had to be made! The Stable population had to be maintained within numbers!”
“I tried to reason with you, Overmare. There were no numbers proving that. In fact, we had an overflow of food and supplies, and you know that.”
“Then why didn’t you listen to me?”
“I was scared, Farsight. Very scared. The whole responsibility of the Stable relied upon me. What if your calculations were wrong and we suffered a famine? What if ponies started to die because I had overridden the instructions? All those deaths would be in my conscience forever.”
“Oh yes? And what about the deaths of those you cast out, like ME?”
“Those were necessary sacrifices.” The Overmare shook her head. “As much as I didn’t like them, they had to be done.”
“You see, Overmare, I don’t believe you. You can rest easy, because none of those ponies died in the Wasteland. They became part of the population of New Pegasus… police ponies, librarians, croupiers… they all live a better life. However, I know about your schemes. I know how some families were spared the dangers of the Lottery.”
“There is no way you’ll be able to prove that.”
“So you don’t deny it!” I roared.
“Why should I?” The Overmare laughed. “You won’t be able to accuse me of anything, and it will be your word against mine. Who do you think the Dwellers will believe?”
“I don’t care who they believe, Overmare. I just know that I was right all along.”
“Is that what you came for, Farsight? To prove yourself better and brighter than all of you? To fulfil your desires of superiority?”
“No, Overmare, that’s not what brings me down here. You see, I told you that there is one living city above the Stable… a city that has been working perfectly for decades. However, the world around it has changed, and there are forces outside that threaten the welfare of the population. There is a war raging between two massive armies, and we are caught in the middle with no choice of running away. That’s why, as ruler of New Pegasus, I’m claiming the property of this Stable.”
“You, ruler of New Pegasus?”
“Are you surprised?” I grinned. “I was going to be Overstallion, after all.”
“I guess I shouldn’t be… but what do you mean that you’re claiming the property of the Stable?”
“Well, let’s say that there are some ponies out there that need a proper shelter until the storm is over. You are going to provide that shelter.”
“You’re crazy, Farsight. There’s no way we’re leaving the Stable.”
“I knew you’d say that.” I smiled. “Anyway, I have already thought of a viable outcome. Please, let’s return to the Atrium. The whole Stable has to witness this.”
“What do you…?”
“To. The. Atrium. NOW.” I hissed.
The Overmare gulped and walked back out of the office, down the stairs and into the multitude that remained on the large hub of the Stable. Their faces showed their fear and mistrust, and some of them were even crying. It was… beautiful. The Overmare and I returned to the middle of the Atrium, where I bowed to all the Dwellers and smiled.
“You see, mares and gentlecolts, there is one living world beyond the gates of the Stable. A world in which ponies have managed to survive, a world in which they have built living communities, and where they have reached happiness and completion. This world, however, is threatened by many forces, both natural and ponylike, that want to tear that happiness and harmony apart, forcing peace-loving ponies to flee and suffer. Such is the fate of the City of New Pegasus, which stands above your heads. We are almost besieged by warring forces that want our destruction, and our chances to flee have been cut off. That’s why we resort to you, Stable 188! You will serve the glorious purpose of keeping the population of New Pegasus safe until these dire times have gone by!”
“You’re out of your mind, Farsight!” The Overmare yelled. “We are not giving you the Stable! We are not leaving these halls!”
“Who says you are going to leave, anyway?” I smiled and lifted a pistol right in front of her head. The Overmare gasped.
“What is this?”
“Overmare,” I said formally, while grinning from ear to ear, “let me express my infinite gratitude for your sacrifice today. Rest assured that the lives of the ponies of New Pegasus are forever in debt with you. We shall never forget you, and what you’ve done for us.”
The Overmare’s body fell like a rag doll to the floor, while blood poured from the bullet wound in her head. The Dwellers gasped and cried when they saw me murder their leader, and I couldn’t help to feel a rush of satisfaction from their realization.
“Leave nopony alive.” I ordered swiftly.
The halls of Stable 188 became a massive carnage, as bullets tore ponies apart, without making distinction between mare, stallion, filly or foal. It was my vengeance, the payback for what they had done to me eight years ago. I had sworn that I would do it, and I had stood up to my word… and while the explosions and the cries of death entangled into a bloody symphony, I stood in the middle of the Atrium, laughing until my throat ran dry.
*** *** ***
The Stable had been cleaned, and the bodies of the dead Dwellers had had their PipBucks removed. Then, the corpses had been piled up on the outside and burnt to ashes before the troops of the NER or the Tsar arrived. The stench of death flooded the air, while I walked back to the Strip as if nothing had happened. There were some issues I had to settle before taking the last step in my plan, and those issues required me to go to the studios of New Pegasus Radio. There was one certain mare I needed to speak to.
Miss New Pegasus was sitting on a stool in front of a console full of levers and buttons, while a microphone hung some meters away from her head. She looked equally bored and worried, while she handled the controls of whatever that console did. A record was spinning on one side, playing the music that would be aired on the waves. As I walked in, she looked up and smiled.
“Farsight, welcome to the Station.” She smiled. “What brings you here? Do you want another interview?”
“No, not at all.” I waved a hoof. “I suppose you are aware of the situation.”
“Yes… There’s little hope, right?”
“Certainly… the forces of the Tsar have engaged those of the Republic close to the gates. They’re going to turn New Pegasus into their battlefield pretty soon, but we have one line of defence.”
“What kind of defence are you talking about, Farsight?”
“Roboponies.” I replied. “They will buy us enough time to hide.”
“There is one Stable beneath New Pegasus. I have ensured that the place is empty and ready to be used by the population.”
“I see. Won’t the forces of the NER or the Tsardom find it?”
“I have one last ace up my sleeve.” I smiled.
“Care to let me know?”
“I’m sorry, but this time I’m keeping my secrets to myself.” I replied. “We need to have an element of surprise if you want this plan to succeed.”
“I suppose that you need me as part of your plan.” Miss New Pegasus snickered. “Why else would you bother to come here?”
“I do need you, and I do need your station.” I grinned sadly. “We must send one last message of hope and resistance to the population. We must make the invaders believe that we’re going to put up a fight, so that they take their time before trying to break through our lines. Will you be able to do that?”
“An inspirational speech?” She smiled, her eyes shining. “Of course! That is something I’ve always been willing to do.”
“I’m counting on you for this endeavour… and for one more thing.”
“What is it, Farsight?”
“Once you descend to the Stable… you will be trapped there for some time… not a week or two, but years. Perhaps you won’t be able to return to the open world again. In such situations, morale is hard to maintain… That’s where you come in. I’ve noticed that many ponies in the City listen to your station, as it keeps their spirits up. New Pegasus Radio has always been there, through the good and the bad times. In the Stable, there is one working broadcasting system. I want you to be there and to carry on doing your job for those who share the Stable with you. Will you do that for me?”
“Of course, Farsight.” Miss New Pegasus smiled with tears in her eyes. “I won’t disappoint you.”
*** *** ***
Pet was waiting for me outside of the New Pegasus Radio building, with a satisfied smile on his face. It seemed like he didn’t care about what was going on in town, or as if he simply was too cool to even be affected by it. Either way, I preferred him to stay calm and efficient, rather than having him freak out because of any unknown reason.
“Hi, Pet.” I waved.
“Hello, Farsight.” Pet smiled. “Job’s done. The Enola has been rigged to blow as soon as you press the big red button.”
“Perfect.” I nodded.
“Farsight… are you totally sure about it?”
“You know that we can build a remote switch in the Stable… or we can fire it from a gunship ourselves. You don’t have to do it yourself, if you don’t want to.”
“No, Pet, I have to. I don’t want to leave anything to chance, because if the Enola fails, all the plan will come crashing down. I want to be sure that every single element comes together.”
“I see…” Pet looked to the floor. “Look, Farsight. I don’t really know you, but… I admire you. I’ve seen things in you that I find praiseworthy, true virtues in this world of madness. You’ve been patient, persevering, brave and magnanimous. You’ve been a true hero for these ponies.”
“Pet, I thank you for your kind words, but I disagree. I am no hero. My mistakes have brought us to this situation, so I’m just cleaning up my own mess. I would hardly call that noble or heroic, nor virtuous.”
“Tell me, Farsight, have you known a pony that hasn’t made mistakes in his life?”
“Exactly. However, even if all of us make the wrong choice here and there, only a few of us are brave enough to accept the consequences and to clean up their own mess, as you have just said. I know that I won’t convince you, but mark my words, Farsight. You are a good pony, a hell of a good one. None of those who have met you have remained indifferent to you… you’ve left a mark in all of us.”
“Thanks, Pet.” I hugged the pegasus. “Now leave before the NER brings its flak cannons. You and Junkers should make it to Breakeven Point as soon as possible.”
“Of course, Farsight.” Pet saluted in a militaristic fashion. “We’ll keep an eye on the skies above Fortune’s Loss for you, okay?”
“You do that.” I smiled. “Have a safe flight.”
Pet nodded and flapped his wings, taking off in a swift move. I remained there, gazing at the pegasus fly away, while I wondered about his words and those of Littlepip. Maybe, if things had gone differently, I could have been able to do more? Maybe, if I had taken other choices, I would have gone down a brighter path for all the Wasteland? I quickly disregarded the thoughts and returned to the plan… my last gambit.
There was little more to do, and time was effectively running out. The cannons could be heard sooner minute by minute, and the roboponies deployed on the walls had begun engaging the first ponies of each faction, who were trying to run and get to New Pegasus before we had had time to establish a proper defence. Ponies were already gathering in the streets, close to the Stable, as the guards had been spreading the news about the forced relocation of the remaining population. Their faces showed fear and anguish, as the Stables were something often associated to critical mistakes that had ended up with terrible consequences for their Dwellers.
This one was different, though. I had lived there, and I knew how it functioned. It had crops working inside, a stable reactor, working air and water systems, and enough room to lodge the remaining ponies of New Pegasus with a certain level of comfort. However, such a community required a hierarchy; one that would stay strong during the time of their confinement. In order to do that, I knew exactly what pony I needed.
Rose was packing her stuff in the little apartment she had lodged herself in, ever since she felt that she needed a pinch more of intimacy. She smiled as she folded her suits and gowns into a small suitcase, but her smile was sad and full of sorrow. That was going to be a tough moment for all of us, no matter how deeply we had assimilated the inevitable end.
“Hi, Rose.” I walked into the room.
“Oh, Farsight, hello. I didn’t hear you coming in.” She smiled and stopped packing things. “How are you?”
“I’m fine… as fine as one can be today.”
“Yes, I understand that feeling… I think I’m in the same situation.” Rose sighed. “What will happen next, Farsight? Why did you send us all to the Stable?”
“I think you already know why.”
“Well, the Stable is probably the safest place to hide, but what will happen when the forces of the Republic find it? We’ll be cornered like molerats.”
“The Republic will not want to set a hoof in New Pegasus after I’m finished.” I said coldly.
“Oh no. You won’t mean the Enola device…”
“I do.” I nodded. “It’s the only way to keep the NER and the Tsardom away from the Stable. If the world above becomes deadly for them, they won’t bother to find the missing population.”
“But… who will activate the bomb?”
“I will.” I replied.
“You? From inside the Stable?”
“No. From the top of the Horseshoe Spire.”
“But… but that will mean that…”
“Yes. It’s a sacrifice that I have to make, just like you have to hide in the Stable and Nadyr has to begin anew in Fortune’s Loss. Each one of us has a role that must be fulfilled.”
“But why, Farsight? Why can’t you hide as well?”
“In the end, Rose, it’s me who they want. Praline, Harpsong and Stonetree want me imprisoned in some dark and murky NER jail. Delvio wants me dead. None of them have anything against you once I’m gone. If I survive, I will be luring them towards you, and I don’t want that to happen. Not to you, not to Avro, not to Nadyr, not to nopony. The only way to guarantee peace is to disappear from the equation. Otherwise, it will be an endless loop.”
“But Farsight, we need you!”
“That’s bullshit. You don’t need me, you can do very well on your own.”
“That’s a lie, Farsight, a bloody lie!” Rose cried. “You are the one that brought us to the top! You saved me from the raiders! You turned Nadyr into a respectable family pony! You saved Avro and made her redeem herself! If it hadn’t been for you… none of this would have happened.”
“Yes, but by doing all that, I’ve caused pain and anger along the Wasteland. Feelings that will only disappear if I do the same thing.”
“Farsight, please, stay with us.”
“Rose, my decision is final.” I shook my head. “I’m not going to change it for anything or anypony.”
“No, Rose. I need you to understand that I have to go.”
“N-nooooo…” Rose cried.
I hugged her and cried as well. The angst of separation, I guess… after all we had lived together, we were like brothers. Knowing that we would never meet again was heartbreaking, but there was no other way. I knew that she would understand, and that she would get over it. Rose was smart and mature enough to take the blow and get up again, with renewed strength and resolve.
“Rose, I’ll never forget you.” I smiled. “You’re the thing I’m most proud of. You’ve grown to become a great mare, intelligent, fair, noble and brave. You’ve overcome all the hardships the world has thrown to us, and you’ve shown that heart of gold you have.”
“Thank you, Farsight.” She sobbed.
“However, I need to give you one last task… one task I need you to swear that you’ll complete.”
“Of course!” She pranced. “Tell me.”
“I have… cleaned a Stable down there. I’ve killed many innocent ponies to make room for you, and I know that you won’t like it. However, that Stable is yours to inhabit right now, and I need an Overmare… a pony that will keep order and will bear the responsibility of her fellow Dwellers. I want that Overmare to be you.”
“Because you’re the most adequate one for that task. You’re reliable, you’re just, and you’re smart enough to handle any situation that might take place within the Stable. You’ll require patience and good will, because the convivence in there will be hard, and sometimes even tight; but I am sure that if there’s a pony that can make others understand each other, that’s you. You’ll be surrounded by good ponies that will help you: technicians, guards, entertainers… but you’ll have to decide which tasks to give them and how to manage your little world. You’ll take the tough decisions, and you’ll be held responsible for them. Is that something you can manage?”
“How long will it be?”
“Three years. I’ll rig the controls to open the gates when that time has passed. However, we don’t know what will happen, so you might be forced to stay there longer. You will have supplies, that I guarantee you.”
“Don’t even worry about it, Farsight. I’ll take the lead.”
“Once the gates open, though, you will need to guide all those ponies through the Wasteland and into Fortune’s Loss… if it’s still standing. I have no idea about how the explosion of the Enola will affect the area, but I advise caution. Radiation will be there, and who knows what more! Still, I reckon that you will be able to get there. I just hope that Nadyr and Dee manage to keep the settlement running for those three years.”
“Farsight, I won’t disappoint you.” She stood strong and smiled, even with the tears in her eyes. “I will get the population to Fortune’s Loss!”
“One more thing before we leave, Rose.” I smiled sadly. “Back at Breakeven Point, I had a chat with a certain unicorn of great relevance… a very deep and insightful chat, even if I wasn’t in the greatest mood for philosophy and such. She told me that the Wasteland was eagerly awaiting a hero, somepony that would go beyond its own desires and that would devote its life to the greater good… somepony untainted by the evils of the Wasteland, free from its dark grasp. She thought that I was the one meant to do that… to save Equestria from what we had done to it. I disregarded her words as the ramblings of a jaded pony who had given all she had got to obtain nothing, but I’ve come to realize that, even at a smaller scale, the world does need such individuals.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“Well, Rose, even if that certain pony thought that I was the one destined to do such a noble deed, I know that she was mistaken. I am no hero. I’ve never wanted to be a hero… I have been selfish and cruel, just like each and every pony out there. However, when I see you, I think that you’re the pony she was looking for… I believe that both in the Stable and in Fortune’s Loss, you’ll be able to bring light into the darkness. If there is a pony that deserves to be called a hero… I think that would be you, Desert Rose.”
“I… I don’t know what to say.” Rose mumbled.
“Perhaps it’s best not to say a word.” I smiled. “Let’s go.”
*** *** ***
The queue went on and on and on, almost losing itself on the horizon, as the ponies eagerly awaited to enter the Stable with their luggage and possessions. Outside, the enemy cannons thundered and some of the outer buildings of New Pegasus had begun to burn because of the heavy shelling. From the other side, we could hear the barbaric roaring of the Tsar’s hordes, rapidly approaching the walls, as the roboponies unleashed laser and gatling fire against them. The day was coming to an end, and the neon lights gave the emptying city an eerie look.
I stood by the Stable Gate, watching every pony walk into the shelter, where they were welcomed by Avro and Rose and they were given a PipBuck, that had belonged to one of the previous Dwellers. No words were said, and the faint smiles and dreary looks reflected what was to happen soon. Once the gate closed, they would be locked inside, and they wouldn’t see daylight for at least three years. Even if the prospect of a known time frame was soothing, that gaping mouth into the bowels of the deep was really imposing.
The ponies kept on walking for half an hour, and the line came to an end. The plan was coming together perfectly, and despite all that, I felt the sadness fill me. I wanted to live, I wanted to run into the Stable and hide, but I knew that it couldn’t be. I simply wouldn’t let the scheme that I had carefully crafted come crashing down just because of a moment of weakness. If that meant my destruction, so be it.
Avro and Rose walked to the gate and looked at me with tears in their eyes.
“Farsight…” Avro cried.
“Hush now.” I smiled and kissed her gently. “I’ll be there for you, trust me. Take care of yourself… and of our foal.”
“I will…” She sobbed.
“And Rose…” I smiled at the pink mare. She looked so mature now! “Remember what I told you. You’re my finest achievement, and I shall never forget you.”
“Neither will I.” She smiled, even if the tears rolled down her cheeks.
I walked to the gate controls and pressed a button. The massive cog with the ‘188’ printed on it hissed, whined and rolled back to its place, locking itself tightly and leaving me outside… alone. It was time for the grand finale.
Note: Reputation change
New Stable 188 / Fortune’s Loss: Hero. Your name shall be remembered forever by the ponies of these communities.