Chapter 26: What It Is
“Good evening, mares and gentlecolts, and welcome to the station that has always been by your side, bringing you the best music and entertainment in Neighvada, as well as the latest news and stories of the world around us. Yes, that’s right, you’re listening to New Pegasus Radio, and I am your host, Miss New Pegasus, always delighted to be by your side. That was one beautiful piece, was it not? You know, Octavia has that charming quality that always keeps you dreaming while you listen. No matter how long the distance or how deep the abyss between the time of the recording and now, I can picture her playing on stage, in a show of grandeur and elegance. No doubt she’s considered a classic!
Let’s move on to less beautiful or charming things… My dearest listeners, no matter how hard we’ve tried to avoid it, no matter how much our leaders have toiled to keep this from happening… the War is upon us. Armies of the Tsar and the Republic have moved on to encircle our glorious City, with the intent of conquering it and adding New Pegasus to their list of trophies. These are dire and sad times indeed, folks, as our hopes and dreams have come crashing down because of the deadly ambition of those ponies who think that the Wasteland is their little playground. Our history of peace and prosperity will suffer a backlash, a dark period from which we will have to recover…
A time in which we will have to go silent, my dearest listeners. Yes, this is our final address to the world, as New Pegasus Radio will be forced to shut down during the time of conflict. The reasons are simple: the safety of our own workers has become compromised, and no matter how much we want to keep being the voice of information and entertainment in Neighvada, we just can’t do it if we’re risking our hides at each step. That’s why we have been forced to take this painful decision. One day, when this all is over, we shall return to the waves with more strength and will, ready to make up for the upcoming time of silence!
Let me get personal for a second, mares and gentlecolts. My time as anchorpony has been relatively short, if we compare it to that of my predecessor Mister New Pegasus, but it has been intense and rewarding. I have learnt a lot and I have enjoyed every minute I’ve stayed behind the microphone, being a part of your everyday life and keeping you informed of every single thing that happened in New Pegasus and around it. Before that, I was a reporter for this very station, and I was tasked to cover many of the major events that took place in our City… and frankly, I feel really honored to have been able to be a major witness to the transformation this patch of land has suffered in the last eight years. For all that, for the moments of true camaraderie, for the good and the bad times, for all that I have learnt and enjoyed… thank you.
Now, I have one last message from our City Council to you, my precious listeners. Our leaders want us to resist, they need us to fight for time while they come up with a solution to this moment of suffering and anguish. Roboponies have been deployed at the walls to hold the invaders back as long as possible, but once that line of defence has been breached, it will be our turn to defend each home and each street from the enemy forces. Keep calm and have faith, since there is a plan already in motion, and according to the members of the Council, once it comes together, our safety will be guaranteed, so hold on tight!
Well, mares and gentlecolts, the time for one final goodbye is coming close, and I feel sad to be forced to abandon my place by the microphone. This is my world, and it will be my world wherever I go, so I will feel a little alien as long as I’m not doing this… but still, as long as there is life, there is hope, and I hope that someday, when all this madness is over, I will be able to return to my place in a radio station. Now, before we leave, we want to give our leaders a little tribute, especially dedicated to Farsight. Despite all their flaws, the last years of New Pegasus have been a true golden age, and this station would like to thank them for all their work. Here’s a little bit of Swinging Voice for you, and remember, this has been New Pegasus Radio, and I am your host, Miss New Pegasus, speaking directly to your hearts… Goodbye.”
It’s closed. I stand before the cog-shaped gate with a large 188 painted on it, in a stark parallelism to that fateful day in which I was cast out by the Overmare. I can see myself lying on the sewer floor, crying in desperation, shaken and totally out of my mind… Now, the only thing that is to see is the large gaping hole that will lead the ponies out of New Pegasus and into freedom… if I manage to pull the final string of my plan. I know what is to come, I know what I have to do… and yet, I feel nervous. Why should I, anyway? I have welcomed death as part of my life, and I have understood that my sacrifice is necessary to ensure the wellbeing of those I care for. Still, there is something inside me that hasn’t found rest. I suppose it’s my instinct of survival, that keeps begging for a second chance. Whenever I feel that urge, though, I just shake my head and convince myself that there is no other way.
I take a last look at the Stable gate and walk out of the tunnel and into the City once again. As I return to the Strip, the memories of the day of my forced entrance to this world assault me once again. My mind plays tricks on me, and I get glimpses of faded ponies that strut up and down the avenue as I clumsily walk around with no clear destination. The lights of the Casinos cast eerie shadows on the floor, fake ponies that dance to a hidden tune, while all that can be heard in the air is the explosions of the heavy cannons of the NER artillery, that has begun pounding the southern area of the City.
I pluck the earbloom of my PipBuck into my ear and switch the radio on, looking for something to be my companion during these last minutes. Static buzzes and tweets as I search through the waves, until I find the frequency of New Pegasus Radio and hear the last words of the reporter mare, giving way to Swinging Voice with one of his greatest hits. I always liked that crooner, and I went to many of his shows while he acted on the Horseshoe. I wonder where he will be now… did all this catch him in New Pegasus, or is the Molerat Pack away? Anyway, I cast those questions aside and listen to the powerful voice of the singer.
“And now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain…”
How adequate. I smile and keep walking down the Strip, wandering around with no clear idea of where to go next. I know what I have to do, but I simply don’t feel like it. The roboponies on the walls seem to be resisting quite well, so I don’t have the urge to finish the job quickly. Like you, Swinging Voice, I am facing my final curtain. It’s funny to hear a song that gets to you in the very deep, as if it had been written with this particular moment in mind. It’s not the first time I hear it, but this one is different. This one has a meaning.
I get to the old Library where I first met Tracker, while in my getaway from those horrible security ponies. It’s still there, still defying the grandeur of the Casinos with its solemn massiveness, being one last resort of culture and conservation within the wild Wasteland… but now, it’s empty. Devoid of life and of content, as all the books have been moved away in an exercise of foresight. Good old Tracker did love all those pieces of paper. The only thing that remained was the old, wartime poster of the blindfolded pony. “Ignorance kills”, it says… Well, it does, but excessive knowledge gets you into trouble as well. Swinging Voice keeps ringing in my ear, making me shiver with each clearly directed word.
“My friend, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain…”
Yes, my case… my rise and fall, my glory and punishment. I am quite certain of it too. I don’t regret any of my actions, but I understand that I made mistakes. I chose according to what I thought it was best, and sometimes my impressions were correct, and sometimes they were misguided. In the very end, looking at where I started and where I am right now, I can’t say I did wrong… I have improved my life and those of many ponies around me. I’ve met kind souls and loving hearts, I’ve made friends and enemies, but most importantly, I have been myself all along, true to my heart and mind.
I return to the Strip, guided by my absent mind, while the voice of the crooner soothes my soul. I walk and walk, but I don’t know what drives my hooves… it has to do with my memory, that’s for certain, because I find myself looking at the dull building of the NPPD. My mind flies back to that day where I was thrown in the cell, broken and desperate, about to be cast out into the Wasteland… or so I thought. There I met Brass Badge… one good pony indeed. He will surely be doing well in the Caravan, as he’s a hard and tough individual… but he has a golden heart. He explained the whole situation to me and made me understand what my cards were. To be a nopony, he showed great respect and care.
“I’ve lived, a life that’s full… I travelled each and every highway…”
Is that song actually inspired by me? I can’t help laughing as I realize how strongly Swinging Voice’s lyrics match my experience. My life has been full and thrilling, even if it has actually lasted eight years, and I have travelled a lot, without a single doubt. I’ve been to the Wasteland, to the radiated swamps of Neighorleans, I’ve seen the present ruin and the past glory… I’ve flown over the clouds and into the raging storms of the Divide. I’ve fought pegasi on airships, and I have battled from the dark to rise as the dominant power in New Pegasus. If that can’t be considered a full life, well, what can?
As I keep drifting through the ghostly city, I cross Union Square, but my mind pictures the tall gates and walls that once separated New Pegasus from the uncivilized Freedom Field… my first true home and my baptism of fire. It’s not there anymore, but I can still see the crackled tarmac, the broken glass on the floor, the burning barrels and the decaying buildings, no matter if all that has been fixed and continues seamlessly the bright and elegant looks of the Strip. There’s no more of that macabre dance of self-preservation, no more armored thugs in the street offering protection to the newcomers, no more mares selling their bodies for a plate of food, but there will be no way those images disappear from my mind. Such was the world I grew in, and those circumstances were the ones that turned me into what I am now.
“And more, much more than this, I did it my way…”
My way… yeah, I guess that after all, I did things my way. I am starting to think that all my life since I was cast out of the Stable could be symbolized by that song. I did many things in my life, and some of them were forced by circumstances; but most of my actions followed what my mind told me. I tried not to bow down to nopony, except when it was necessary to keep breathing one day longer. I have fought to be independent, and frankly, that’s the way I like it. No matter how attached I have become to my friends, I have always done things because I wanted to. Call me egotistic, that’s what I am.
My hooves take me to the Old Pegasus Fort. It’s still there, it’s thick and tall walls defying the flow of time… although they will soon be no more, if I manage to take my plan to fruition. I walk inside, remembering how I woke up there after having fainted due to sheer hunger. The inside of the large ruin is now empty, with no tents or equipment left behind. Mixer and his crew have done a fine job scuttling all the material and sending it either to the Caravan or to the Stable. That ghoul has always been one fine individual… witty and charmful, despite his condition, and one great physician.
As I walk around the sandy floor, I remember Goldie. I can’t believe how well she hid her machiavellian self, disguised under a thick layer of goodwill and community work. The first time I met her I thought she was a true angel, somepony that could be regarded as a role model… I was truly mistaken, and her treason cost me very much… Well, now that I think of it, it was no real treason. She and I had nothing in common, and once I knew too much, I became a nuisance that had to be taken care of. I guess I would have done the same. Still, I lost Stuka because of her.
“Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention…”
Once again, the song brings a smile to my face. Indeed, I have had very few regrets in my life. I never regretted having forced my expellment from the Stable, as it opened my life to a greater world in which I have managed to thrive. Each and every one of my moves has been carefully planned and analyzed, and if the results haven’t been the ones I expected, I have always been able to blame the world around me. After all, there are many things that I simply haven’t been able to control.
Things like the ones that once took me to Trader Plaza, where I stand now. Nothing has changed in the last years… the traders never wanted to build a proper marketplace, and they felt comfortable in their little world of shacks and stalls. While I ruled over New Pegasus, I offered them a better place to do business in the City, and yet they turned it down. I suppose that they were Wastelanders all along, and that they kept wanting to do business in a Wastelander fashion. Now, the Plaza was just an empty square of brick, with nothing on it. The Republic had successfully blockaded the caravans when they turned on us, so the remaining traders just left the City before it was too late.
I remember that mare that was my neighbor when I first tried luck as a scavenger-trader. Sunberry Grass, if I recall correctly… she was a fine mare, hardworking and honest, traits that are difficult to find in the Wasteland. I recall that time when I had to find a Water Talisman for Dee and her crew… she wanted me to share it with the NER and their Communal Farms project. Did those farms ever exist, anyway? She felt really disappointed… and I realized that you can’t just please everypony, which means that every decision implies a cost. One just needs to find the proper benefit to outweigh the costs.
“I did, what I had to do, and saw it through, without exemption…”
I chose and I acted, indeed. It was the only way to progress, and so I did with all my might. There was only one direction for me in the gutters of Freedom Field, and that was up. I knew that then, and I keep believing that now. No matter how far my assignments took me, I returned from them better and stronger, and I even got to meet new ponies that would clearly mark my life from there on.
Rose was a clear example. We’ve lived a lot together, and we have both suffered greatly in the process. It was my fault that Rose got tainted by the evil spirit of Stable 173, the despicable Lavender, but somehow, she won that battle. I feared for her every day of our existence, thinking that the poor filly would break down under the pressure of that murderous entity, but she proved to be stronger… and wiser. Instead of fighting Lavender, Rose welcomed her into her mind. They both fused and became one, a more powerful and mature Desert Rose.
Now, she’s in that Stable, acting as an Overmare. I can’t think of anypony more prepared to lead and enact justice than her. Even her Cutie Mark reflects that! I always shed a tear when I think about her… she’s my pride and joy, the best that I have crafted over the years. Better than my lead over New Pegasus, better than the transformation of Freedom Field… even better than my own life. She has shown me that there is hope in the Wasteland. Hope for a brighter tomorrow, no matter how dark the night may be.
I realize that I have walked to the door of the Four Little Diamonds, right in front of the Tesla Bar… two sides of the same coin, two individuals that marked my life and at the same time scarred it. Saddle and Ampera… they were both good ponies. He was a bit harsh and obtuse, but I realized that there was more to him that what showed. He had principles, even if he lacked the bravery to let them show, and that cowardice made him bow down to whoever could guarantee his position of power. It was sad to see him kneel, but I do believe he redeemed himself in death. Ampera, on the other hoof, was still a bleeding wound in my soul. I liked the old Ranger, her wits and her strong discipline. She was intelligent, firm and brave, and she was by my side in my moment of weakness. Without her help, I would have been a cripple… and yet, I was forced to kill her because of her betrayal.
“I planned each charted course, each careful step along the highway, and more, much more than this, I did it my way…”
Yes, I did plan each step carefully. Once again, I feel like Swinging Voice is depicting my life with his words, as if he had been seeing the world through my own two eyes. It is funny, and at the same time, it is starting to get a bit odd. However, I can’t avoid admitting that plans and schemes have been a central part of my life. I have always taken pride on being one step ahead of the rest of the world, since that has been what has given me the edge over the rest of my competitors. The only reason for my success has been that I have anticipated the other ponies’ moves… that, and having had good companions beside me.
Nadyr has been one of those. More than a companion, it has been a brother to me. Always there, always loyal, even if he could get a bit sidetracked by his eternal desire for money and power. I don’t doubt that he has lived a very hard life, probably much tougher than mine, and yet, he has never faltered. Always smiling, always cheerful, he has supported me in each and every endeavour I have embarked in. Now, wherever he might be, I’m sure that he will be keeping his group in a good mood, with the occasional joke or two.
I walk into the Music School, now empty and dark, and as I tread into the Music Hall, I can’t help remembering how much my life depended on this place. Dee and Metronome, Celestia rest her soul, were my patrons and my friends, as I fought for a place in the City of New Pegasus. They were both hard and tough, but Dee has always been a bit motherly to me. Somehow, I believe that we managed to connect. I liked her noble approach to being a gang leader, and I think she enjoyed watching me build complicated schemes that benefited both her and me.
Swinging Voice begins to roar in my earbloom, and I can’t help to shiver thinking of his great shows in the Auditorium. Even if standing in the small Hall, I picture him singing to the top of his voice on stage.
“Yes there were times, I’m sure you knew, when I bit off, more than I could chew… but through it all, when there was doubt, I ate it up, and spit it out… I faced it all, and I stood tall, and did it my way!”
I hear myself singing as well, even if my voice can’t even imagine being close to that of the crooner. Tears have flowed out of my eyes, and I think I’m starting to get emotional with the song. There were many times in my life in which I found myself in a tight spot, but I can say with pride that I never backed down. I took the challenges head on, and fought for supremacy with all the weapons at my disposal. No matter how large the foe, I never surrendered, and I’m not going to do that now. No matter how loud the cannons may ring, no matter how close those barbarians of the Tsar may be, I shall overcome… New Pegasus shall overcome.
I have exited the Music School and have made my way back into New Pegasus… just to find myself looking at the Obelisk of Union Square. Those who fell for the growth of our City, that’s what it was meant to symbolize, but in the very deep, I know it has a completely different meaning… It’s a tribute to the one that showed me true love and care in the Wasteland for the first time, even if we were different species. Stuka’s effigy stood there, on top of the monument, looking at Freedom Field with a kind face. That’s how I wanted her to be shown to the world, as a loving soul.
I still miss her, even if I have found Avro. I guess that, if she had been there, things would have been different. I can say she was a sort of an anchor for me, as she kept me from getting too euphoric or too depressed. She was my soulmate, and I think she would have understood my attraction towards the pegasus. We understood each other, the two of us being outcasts from where we belonged, having to rebuild our lives in an alien environment. However, we had each other to lean on, and that was what kept us moving on. Her loss was dramatic, but at the same time, it was the last thing I needed to realize what my ultimate goal was. I owe her much… more than I will ever be able to repay.
“I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried, I’ve had my fill, my share of losing… and now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing… To think, I did all that, and may I say, not in a shy way… oh no, oh no not me, I did it my way…”
I’m back on the Strip, walking along the bright lights of the Casinos, remembering the days in which I fought to turn Full House and the Ferraturas against each other. Then, suddenly, everything came crashing down in a maelstrom of chaos… moment in which I stepped up and took over the City. It was my finest hour, my boldest move… and probably, the moment in which I was closer to losing it all. I just went all in on a no-limit table, and left everything to the cards. Lady Luck was kind to me that day, the same way that it has been unkind lately.
Still, these last eight years have been good, I suppose. I’ve realized my dreams of power and glory, and many ponies regard me as a good ruler and a worthy individual. There are friends that have stayed loyal to me from start to finish, and I have found love two times, even if the last one was a bit tainted. Yes, Avro has been my angel, my sun and moon, my ecstasy and my pathway to destruction.
She came to me with lies and seduction, and for once in my life, I failed to see her true intentions… she drove me to a point of no return and forced me to fight the Red Front, prompting New Pegasus into a war with the Republic. Despite all that, I still loved her. I’ve realized that love goes beyond logic, since there’s no explanation for what I feel for her; even if I know that she’s to blame for all my strife. Besides, she’s shown true remorse and anguish for her actions… for a professional liar, I think that’s some strong honesty. Not to forget that she’s going to make me a father… even if I will never get to see my own foal.
I walk into the Spire elevator with the last words of Swinging Voice ringing in my earbloom, the great finale of the song that has in some way symbolize my life, and that will also picture the end to it. I don’t hide my feelings anymore, for I am alone… I sing to the top of my musicless voice and let the tears fall free, since I have much to live for… but I have to go.
“For what is a buck, what has he got? If not himself, then he has naught... to say the things he truly feels, and not the words of one who kneels… the record shows, I took the blows… and did it MY WAY!”
*** *** ***
The red button is there, taunting me to push it. I will have to do it sooner or later, but I want to get things sorted out first. There will be many loose ends after I leave this world, and other ponies will have to tie them together… not with the best intentions, probably. The reason for which I have been narrating my life from the very day I was forced out of the Stable is pretty simple, as anypony can imagine. My friends are hidden, while my enemies roam the world and have power. I don’t doubt that I will be regarded as a monster when all this ends, so I have to ensure that my tale is told properly.
This PipBuck, this loyal companion over the years, will be spared my destruction, as a witness of my life and the things that went on around me. I will store it someplace safe and I know that one day, these memories will be uncovered by somepony. I just hope that whoever does the discovery manages to divulge it to the world. I’ll go to the Vault that Pet told me to store the PipBuck, but first, there is something I must leave behind for that individual that I love even before its existence.
My dearest son… or daughter.
You and I will never get to meet, but I am sure that you will hear my name many times along your life, the name of Farsight. There will be many stories told about me, most of them bad and harmful, speaking about how my greed and selfishness destroyed a beautiful city… and they will be right, up to a point.
I’ve made a lot of things in my life, and I have unmade many others. I was no hero, and I don’t want to see me as such… the sooner you realize that all of us have the same weaknesses and flaws, the better your life will be. I have fought to give you a brighter future, and I know that your mother and those around you, like your Aunt Rose and your Uncle Nadyr will be there to guide you in your upcoming life.
The only thing I pray for is a long and prosperous life for you. Be strong, be free and be true to your own self. That’s the only way to find peace of mind and real happiness. Make friends and stay loyal to them, but don’t hesitate to shun those who try to use you. Be your own mind’s greatest ally, and listen to her advice. Respect and honor those who guide you, and you will be shown the same respect and honor.
You will always be in my mind.
That’s all that had to be said, I guess. I just have to store the PipBuck and push the big red button that will end all this. I order the roboponies to open the gates and retreat to the Horseshoe while I descend into the bowels of the Casino, into the small vault in which I will hide the PipBuck. After all, the more enemies I take with me, the better the result.
The utility room is small and ugly, but it seems robust enough to endure what is coming. There is nothing more than a vault and a terminal that governs it. I could store the device and run away, but I guess I should leave a little note explaining the meaning of the contents, just to make my intentions clear. I walk to the computer and begin typing.
Congratulations. If you're reading this, then you have no doubt been able to breach the security of this bunker. I can only assume you are no raider and are definitely interested in what I've got to say. Probably because you're looking for answers to what happened to New Pegasus, and no doubt you know my role in its destruction. All the details are in the PipBuck that lies now inside the safe. Basically, it's a memory storage device with all my life in it.
There are some things you must know first, though. I know I’m looked upon with disgust, as the evil traitor that selfishly abandoned his friends after having used them for his own devices. That is no lie. I know I was no role model. Actually, many times I look back at my life in shame and regret. Don’t get me wrong, though. I don’t regret any of my actions. I regret not having enjoyed the little moments of true happiness I had in this soulless world we live in.
That doesn’t matter anymore, since I’m already dead and you’re looking at a screen inside a rad-proof vault under the ruins of what once was a beacon of light in the middle of the Wasteland. My feelings won’t bring back the dead, won’t avenge the injustice. However, I needed to tell my story, I needed to keep a record of what I went through in this world. I wasn’t always like the pony the world says I was. I once was a peaceful colt with a bright future in the peace of a Stable. Life is a harsh mistress, though, and she taught me a great lesson. Don’t fight the power. And you know what? I rebelled. I fought the power with all my might, until I became the power; then others fought me.
And even if the former is true, the lesson of my life is another. Trust nopony, because everypony lies. Everypony is selfish in the Wasteland. Everypony is cruel. Everypony is disloyal. Everypony is dishonest. Keep your friends close, and your foes closer.
However, I think I’m getting carried away with philosophy, which isn’t my intent at all. As I’ve said, I’m here to tell a story, the story of my life, and of how I came to be the leader of New Pegasus, just to end up destroying it. Take a look at my PipBuck and you’ll see what I have to say.
I let go one last sigh and open the Vault. These are my last words before I unlatch the PipBuck from my forehoof and return to the top of the Spire, to unleash the wrath of the Enola, so I should make them count…
“Rose, Nadyr, Avro, my foal… I will always be with you.”
END OF ACT V