Chapter 2: Apples and Ass Holes
So, there I was, looking down the barrel of a saddle mounted M134, loading with 500 armor piercing rounds ready to tear me more then a few new holes. My brother was shaking beside me, his eyes shit tight. I was certain we where going to die. then, Hopes horn light up the room. it was so bright, that just being near it hurt my eyes. Then, we vanished.
He had teleported us back down to level 5. I knew he could teleport, but he always said that he could only teleport someplace he could see. I had never been more glade that he was wrong.
Although, not at the time. When we blinked back in, I was laying on the ground, my hair singed from the energy. My stomach was doing back flips. I promised myself I would deal with my hair the first chance I got.
Hope hadn’t fared much better. He was laying beside me, holding his horn in his hoofs. Although he didn’t have any real injurious, he used a lot of magic for that spell. To this day, I have no clue how he was still conscious after a spell like that.
I knew that he had burnt himself out. It happened to a lot of unicorns when they overused there magic. Cant say I remember any pony ever grunting and moaning about the pain that much though... it really wasn’t that big of a deal. He just would be without magic for a day or two, maybe some head aches.
I felt somepony pushing down on my wound. a forest green mare was sitting beside me, levitating a first aid kit in front of her. I swatted her hoof away from me and sat up.
“Lay back down.” The green pony ordered. “Your hurt.”
“I am?” I asked sarcastic. “I can take care of myself lady. Go see if there’s any injured egos in need of treatment. I’m sure you wont have a problem finding any in this place.” The mare gasped at my insult, and trotted away
Ok, so maybe I was a little harsh. Really though, she was treating me like a foal. I don’t need some cute mare to kiss me better.
“I can do it myself.” I muttered. Hope was shooting me a disapproving look. I figured I should cut the egg heads a little slack. If only for my brothers reputation.
A bunch of ponies had gathered around now to see what was going on. Many of them scowled at me. I shrugged them off and got to work with the first aid kit.
I knew how to patch myself up pretty well. I had gotten hurt more times then I could count. mostly doing things that might give you a bad impression of me...anyway, once I cleaned and dressed the wound, I went to see how hope was doing.
A bunch of ponies had gathered around him, attacking him with questions. Was that what it was like working for the ministry of science? I would never now. I got up and told every pony to give my brother some room.
I'll admit, I don’t look like the easiest pony to talk to. Sure, my green coat is cute, I guess. when put it with my purple and blue hair, my attitude, and my security outfit? I came off as a little daunting. Add my cross bow into the mix, and my style just screams, “don't mess with this girl!” So, when I spoke, everyone listened. It probably helped a bit that I was the sister of the smartest egg head in the room, and that I was the only one who had ever even been in a fight, let alone a gun fight.
I helped hope up, who smiled at me and chuckled. “You always have to rule the school, don’t you?” He asked me.
“long as your there to nerd it up once in a while. How did you do that spell?”
“Fear, I guess. Magic is fueled by emotion, right?”
I shrugged. “Can you try and warn me next time maybe? My hears all singed.”
“Ok, I’ll warn you next time your seconds from death. Then, I’ll save you.”
“Thanks for that, by the way.”
Most of the spectators left during our conversation. I’m not sure what it is about most of those ponies, but they just seem to home in on drama.
That’s when Blaze decided to walk over and interrupt us. There are many times when I pray that some pony would interrupt my brother. This was not one of those times.
“listen,” The flaming pony said as he walked up. “I know your both hurt, so don’t be afraid to say no.”
“Just get to the point, blaze.” I cut in. He glared at me. Hope gave me another of his disapproving looks. I swear, those things are worse then gun fire.
Blaze lowered his voice so no pony else could overhear him. “I found a back exit on level 6. It leads into a tunnel system that they had dug into when the stable was built. Thing is, the over mare and the head of security know the codes.”
Hope nodded, thinking it over. “well, where are they?” I asked.
“Well,” Blaze pointed to a nearby freezer. “That mare in there was the over mare.”
“And head of security?” Hope asked.
“Well, your sisters wearing his uniform. Whats that tell ya?”
“Shit.” I said.
“Hope, couldn’t you just hack it or something? You had a hoof in the security system, right?”
“Yea, I based the program off of my pip buck. The doors aren’t part of the security network though. I could try to find a back door, but there’s no chance of me just getting back door access.
“Right...” Blaze said. It was clear he was just as confused as I was. “Just do whatever you can.” Hope nodded. “Snd you-” He looked over at me. “I want you to go with him.”
“Where did you think I was going to go?” I asked. The Gala?” Hope chuckled. Blaze merely rolled his eyes.
“The clinics drug Cabinet comes to mind.”
“Fuck you Blaze! Fuck you!” I shouted, shoveing him. He staggered back a few steps. I took a step towards him.
“Hey!” a tug on my tail told me to stop my advance. Once hope saw that I had calmed down a bit, he let go off it. “That’s enough.” He said venomously. Hope walked up beside me. “Lets go.” Hope narrowed his eyes at blaze as we past.
Turns out, there was a stairwell to level six in the cryo room. It was a maintenance stairwell that, according to hope, hadn’t been used since the stables construction.
The stairwell was uncaracteristicly big. I figured it would have to be for moving supplies to the lower levels.
When we where finely out of the cryo lab, heading down the stairwell, I piped up. “Wow bro, I didn't know you cared.” I chuckled. “Never seen you get that out of the clouds before.”
“Im tired of all the ponies here belittling you.”
“Yea, well when we open the exit, we wont have to.”
Hope starred off into space for a minute as we walked, like I had reminded him of something really important. He didn’t look all that happy about it either.
I pocked his check. “hey, hope. Equestria to egg head. Hope!”
“Huh? Oh, sorry. I was just-”
“Lost in thought.” I finished. “I know. What where you thinking about? You looked devastated.”
“Never mind, it'll be fine.” I had no idea what he was talking about, but I could definitely guess. He had some sort of invention in there that he didn’t want to loss. Most ponies have a pet, or a favorite toy. Not my brother. He had his latest gadget.
“don't worry about it, you still have your pipbuck prototype.”
He perked up a little bit at that, looking down at his invention. “Yea. Yea, I do.” If he was in a better mode, he would argue that he didn’t invent it, just rebuilt it from older models and improved it. As fare as I cared, he built that little computer and wrote out the code. Of course, he wouldn’t admit to it.
Once we got to the bottom of the stairs, he sent me back up to check on every pony upstairs. Not a job I really wanted, but I didn’t complain. Walking around talking to ponies (even theses stuck up braineaks) was fare more fun then watching hope hack a computer.
When I got upstairs, I walked around the cryo lab making sure everypony was doing ok. They all where. Sadly, they offered vary little in the way on conversation.
“Hey, you guys doing ok?” I asked a group of ponies who where chatting near a food vendor.
“Vary well, thank you.” One of them, a stallion, replied. The name Spell Nexus came to mind. “We where just having a chat, about the fundamentals of residual energy distortion after immense magic transference. Do you have anything to add?”
I looked at the brown stallion, trying to figure out what he was talking about. I realized that he where mocking me.
“No, but me and my brother where just talking about the odds of a bunch of out of shape egg heads surviving in a radioactive wasteland with no training or skills of any kind.” I shot back.
The purple mare beside him laughed. “And what chance do you think you have, blank flank? Your a criminal.” I subconsciously hide my flank behind my tail.
“Well, I can shoot, pick looks, find food, and im not afraid to get my hoods dirty.” I boasted. “I can hit an apple of your head at 500 yards. Although, I would much prefer to shot you out from under the apple.”
“Excuse me!?” She shouted.
“I think you should leave.” Spell Nexus said, steeping in front of the mare.
“Good idea.” I said, turning tail. “I was getting bored of embarrassing you egg heads anyway.” I said over my shoulder.
Once she was out of ear shot, I muttered “You might be smarter then me, but at least I got a shot on the surface.”
I might have played it off all cool like, but the truth was, there words really did hurt. I was literally the dumbest pony in the stable, and no pony wanted me to forget it.
“Hey!” Blaze shouted from behind me. “Hold up!”
I turned towards him. “Liston, if this is about that couple, i-”
“Its not that.” He cut me off. “The steel ranger guys are hacking into one of the elevators. I've sealed the door to the cryo room, but...” He was to afraid to finish the thought. “Hows the back door going?”
“No idea.” I shrugged. “Hope sent me up here to make sure everypony was doing alright.”
“Go check then. I'll pack up all the food I can find.” I nodded. “Why are you still here? Go!”
I did as I was told (for once) and went to tell hope about the new development. It was a lot to process. I hadn’t been outside in 200 years. Now, my choices where go to a wasteland I knew nothing about, or get shot dead. Plus, his mention of food reminded me that I hadn’t eaten in 200 years. My stomach grumbled as I dashed down the stairs.
“Quiet, you.” I told it as I ran. Down this hall, past this terminal, through this door, and I was there. It wasn’t hard to find, considering the stable practically had signs to tell you where the signs where.
“Hows it going?” I huffed as I ran into the large empty room. He was sitting beside the terminal, staring intently at his pipbuck.
“Almost there. I got it powered, know I just half to wait for the pipbuck to generate the password.”
“Cant you just bypass it, or scroll through the code for the password?”
“Its not that easy. Its all encrypted. The security system has the same programing as my pipbuck prototype. This is alien to me.”
I grunted, and bucked the nearest wall, leaving a small dent.
“Calm down, I just need another 10 minutes. Believe it or not, I don’t know everything about computers.”
“The steel dangers-”
“Are hacking the elevator know. They'll be here really, really soon.”
He sighed, and looked over his pipbuck at me. “Hook up your pip to the terminal, I would use the extra processing power.”
I did as he asked, then said, “But I don’t know how-”
“Your pipbuck will do the rest. Just integrate with the computer. It should sink with mine.”
I did as he asked, and my pipbuck screen filled with the random code that covered the computer screen. “Now what?” I asked after what felt like three hours. The clock on my pipbuck said 8 minutes.
He smiled and clicked something on his pipbuck. The code on the computer screen vanished, replaced by the words, “unlock door?”
“Now, we get out of this death trap.”
We walked back upstairs, excited to tell everypony the good news. On our way, I couldn’t help but think about what outside might be like. I knew it wouldn’t be anything like it was before, but how much could have changed? Did the maga spells turn equestria into a dessert? A tundra? Detrot? I had no idea.
“What do you thing its like outside?” I asked as we reached the door to level 5.
He shrugged. “I wish I could check. There are sensors on level one that would tell us everything. They can even see through the dirt to give us a look at the surface.”
“Let me guess, your magical handy work?” She asked
“Nope.” He opened the door. “You know, Im not the only pony at the ministry who built things. some intern came up with the idea. She knew this X-Ray spell that she used to...never mind.”
We both stooped and stared out the door, into the cryo room. A few of the tubs had been tipped over and set up as barricades by the main door. A few ponies, including blaze, sat behind them. They where armed with guns I assumed they had gotten from the storage room.
The rest of the ponies where huddled farther near the back, behind a cluster of pods. I winced as the stable shook for the second time that day. A lout bang echoed through the room as the main door was blown away from its frame
One of the ponies, despite being ordered not to, looked over the barrier to get a better look at the approaching enemy. He screamed as a 4 tun door took his head off. Blaze shouted for his armed ponies to open fire. I could barely hear him over all the screaming.
This time, the coming of the steel clad warriors wasn’t accompany by the whirl of mini guns. One of the steel rangers stepped through the door. The stable ponies bullets barley dented his armor. By the time I saw the weapon he had mounted in his battle saddle, it was to late.
A rocket flew out of the tub on the rangers side. It struck the wall behind the unarmed ponies. The sound was only watched by the intensity of the earth quake it caused. They screamed as a blanket of fire and shrapnel rained down on them.
“Apple Jacks Rangers, move in!” The Ranger shouted. Another two soldiers joined him, one on each side.
I drew my cross bow, and took a step forward. “over hear!” I shouted to the stable ponies. “RUN!” none of them could hear me. I ran forward. I wanted to lead them out. To get them to safety. I felt my tail go taught as hope grabbed it.
Another rocket flew past. this one slammed into the guards barricade. The stable shuttered as it went off, taking half the barricade with it. Some of the gunners got lucky. The rest where still alive.
“Look.” He said, pointing at the battle field. Half the security force lied dead at the barricade. The others seemed to be in immeasurable pain, there bodies litters with burn marks and cuts from the shrapnel. The civilians lied still on the ground behind the cryo tube. A few where still breathing. None of them seemed able to walk.
I knew what my brother way saying. The battle was over. They where dead. Tears stung my eyes as I stepped back from the door. Two steel rangers walked up to the first barricade, one checking the ponies pulses, the other covering him. They both looked over at us as hope closed the door.
Hope:level up! New perk-power pony. Your skill in problem salving now effects your magic. You are 10% less likely to have a magic burn out.
Faith: level up! New perk! Dauntless. You don’t take shit from no pony! You can now use others fear of you to get what you want. Speech and barter increased by 10! new speech options when speaking with any pony a lower level then you.