You've ever heard the phrase 'when a door closes, a window opens'?
I wake up with a slight headache. I try to get out of bed but I'm so dizzy I just fell flat on the floor. I try to stand up again, this time slowly, the world is turning, why won't it stop turning? I barely manage to go a few steps before I fall again. Great way to start the day.' I shake my head to try to stop the world from turning. "Would you look at that, it worked!" Well sort of, at least now I could walk without falling.
Once I had recovered myself I started to notice the surroundings, "This... This isn't my house..." Then the door opens and 3 ponies, all armed, come in and I remember the events that happened last night. I remember the attack on Clarefield. How I ran from 4 raiders and the bodies I saw. How I couldn't say goodbye to Carrot before she died and how I escaped the town with Bell, only to pass out when more raiders were coming.
I attack the pony that's the closest to me, an earth pony a mare, and I take her gun. Then I put her between the other ponies and me and aim her own gun to her head, "Where is Bell?" The other ponies are shocked and don't answer me so I repeat my question, this time shouting in anger "Where is Bell?!"
"I'm right here you silly!" I turn my head to the door to see her standing there, with a hoof to her mouth suppressing a giggle. I notice the other 2 ponies trying to come for me and aim the gun to them.
"Stay right there!" The ponies froze in place and I asked: "What's going on?" ... Or I would have if it wasn't for the weird feeling in my chest, "Ha ha ha ha ha- st- stop that it tickles! Ha ha ha ha"
I let go of the mare and lose my concentration so I drop the gun. The other ponies take this chance and tackle me to the ground, not letting me move, then I notice what was it that made me laugh: The mare, who I thought was an earth pony, was actually a pegasus and her feathers were tickling me. Damn it, that's not fair... And now Bell bursted into a full laughter.
After that they explained me what was going on, it wasn't like I had any other choice and if Bell trusted them so could I.
"So let me see if I got this, your name is Sweet Trade," I pointed a hoof at the mare pegasus. She had a white coat with a yellow mane and a bag of caps for a Cutie Mark, at least she says it's a bag of caps I only she a bag full of something. "You're a traveling merchant and these two are your guards, Big Bang and Steel Bender," I pointed at both of her guards, two really big stallions, both earth ponies. One was red with a darker red mane and the other was yellow with green mane. "You found me and my sister lying on the ground and decided to take us with you to the nearest town, and to the doctor. And this town is called 'Haysticks'."
Sweet nodded to all of this and then said "Good thing you catch up quick, but remember if you ever point a gun to me head again these two are going to have to do what I hired them for."
"Don't worry I'm not stupid, and I wouldn't hurt the pony who saved both me and my sister"
"Good thing that's clear, now if you'll excuse us we'll leave."
"Hey wait a sec," Bell was now speaking. "We have to repay you somehow, you just saved our lives after all!"
"Bell's right, the problem is we don't have any caps to pay you for it, so how about we help you get to the next town you visit?"
"That's... That's not a bad idea, the next town we are visiting is far away from here and we might encounter many creatures along the way, a gun or two more would certainly be useful."
"Oh no Bell can't shoot a gun, she doesn't have any training in it she might end up shooting one of you." In truth I just didn't want Bell to use a gun, I knew she would have to learn eventually but just not now...
"Hey!" She pouted...
"If you say so, but anyway we are staying here a couple of days. So you might want to gather some caps and fast otherwise you're going to starve." Then Bell's stomach growled, and I had to laugh
"Don't laugh at me!" She was blushing embarrassed.
"You're so cute when you're embarrassed" I answered and laughed a bit more
"S- stop!" Her face getting even redder.
"Fine, fine I won't laugh anymore, say how about I cook you something?"
"How? We don't have any caps and we couldn't really pack things up..."
"Well... Oh right, I have some things in my saddlebags and there is a merchant right here. Say Sweet, wanna get some stuff for a few caps? Oh and I noticed your weapons are in poor condition, I could repair them for a small price."
She laughed and said "Now you're talking my language, but they don't call me Sweet Trade for giving off caps you know?"
I managed to get a enough caps to feed Bell and I for the 3 days that we'll be here and she was nice and gave us some food which I cooked for Bell and I, but I still needed more caps if I was going to help Sweet. I didn't have a gun because I had lost it back at Clarefield apparently, and I sold the rest of the ammo I had to Sweet. I still had my pipe but I wouldn't want to have to fight enemies in close combat.
I went and talked to the mayor of the town and he told me that they've been having problems with radroaches in some old building but haven't had the time to kill them, and he told me that if I took care of them he would give me some caps. When I told him I didn't have a gun he offered me a BB gun and some ammo for it, honestly the thing was so old and damaged I'd rather use my pipe instead of this toy. But I took it anyway, I couldn't leave Bell in the town without knowing anypony so I took her with me to take out the radroaches, and as much as I hated it I gave Bell the BB gun so she could defend herself...
"Take that you stupid radroach!" She was enjoying shooting at them, I would say it was a little weird but I was not so different. I mean have you seen those things? Everypony should be happy we are killing them.
"Hey you better save ammo, we might need it later." Bell was shooting at the radroaches from on top of my back and I killed the ones that got close to us, the building wasn't well lit but with my E.F.S. and the light coming out of the PipBuck it wasn't hard to find them.
I was checking every part of the building. It seems nopony ever came here because I found a few caps here and there and there was an ammo selling machine I managed to open and found a bit of ammo for the BB gun and ammo for weapons I didn't have. I kept them anyway, maybe I could sell those to Sweet.
"Need it later? You just have to give a good swing of your pipe and they're done for. Besides it's not like this gun manages to kill them, I'm practicing so that I can use a gun later, aren't I?" My heart sank with that last statement.
"If it was up to me you would never use a gun in your life... but yes it's so you can practice."
The rest of the day was uneventful, what did you expect from a building full of radroaches? A big giant radroach that regenerated faster than I could hurt it? Sorry to disappoint you but that didn't happen, Bell and I went back to the mayor and told him that the building was now completely clear. He doubted how could I be so sure about that but I explained him about the PipBuck and the E.F.S. function. He gave us the caps he promised and let us keep the BB gun.
I was now looking for Sweet but a pony I didn't know called me and wanted to speak to me. "Hello, you must be Spark and Bell." The stallion with a purple coat and black mane said: "My name is Show and I wanted to talk to you about Bell."
"What problems did you get into now Bell?"
"I haven't done anything! I've been with you ever since we got here!"
"No this isn't about Bell being in problems, you see your sister has a talent for singin., I heard her singing while I was talking to the doctor to see if I could buy some health potions. She sang beautifully and I think she has a future in music. I manage a talent show in Dice, if you're ever in need of some caps and are in Dice feel free to come over and we can make a deal."
"Uh, sure we will." I knew Bell was a great singer and I love to hear her sing, but I never expected that somepony would offer her a job for it.
"Good then I'll be off, got a caravan to catch." He then walked past us to the caravan that was waiting for him.
I looked at Bell and she had a slight blush on her face, I think this is the first time somepony other than those of Clarefield praised her on her singing. She was very shy when it came to singing she only sang when she was with Carrot or with me. "Wait, I don't remember hearing you sing after I woke up."
"That's because I sang while you were sleeping." She said in a whisper.
"Hey, there is nothing to be ashamed of, you're a great singer and everypony should hear you sing," She was still blushing a bit but nodded and we continued looking for Sweet "Oh, and thanks for singing for me even if I couldn't hear it."
It's hot, too hot, why is it so hot?
I open my eyes and notice that I'm standing in the middle of a fire. I'm trapped, there is no way out. Everywhere I see there are flames.
There is no other option, I run through the flames, as fast as I can so as to avoid catching fire. It's burning to death trying to escape, or burning to death standing still. I managed to escape the flames, but the fire is catching up to me, I can't stop now. I see a door, maybe I could actually escape this place, but the door is closed. I slam against it multiple times and manage to open it and go in, but what I see inside is no salvation...
"Hello Spark, what are you doing?" It was Carrot... She was standing there, looking at me with her with her bright green eyes...
"Run Carrot! The fire is coming!" I tried to warn her, but she just smiled and giggled.
"There is no fire you silly! Look there is nothing there."
I turn and see that the door is gone. In its place there is just a pony, the sheriff. "Hey Spark, glad to see you're as active as always."
"But but but, there was a fire, I'm sure of it!" I looked both at Carrot and the sheriff, they looked back at me, with pitiful eyes.
"Why are you so fixed on that Spark..." Holes started appearing on both of them, and they started burning, I just stood there, shocked.
"You should have helped us Spark, instead you ran to save yourself..." The sheriff said. Then the fire started up again, but this time I did nothing, and it burned me alive...
"It was just a nightmare..." I wake up to see the ceiling of where Bell and I are staying, she was sleeping next to me, we could only afford one room and I wasn't going to leave her alone.
I had managed to keep myself busy and not to think about Clarefield, but my dreams weren't safe. And now it was all I could think about, I regret everything I did there. I should've tried to help Carrot and the sheriff. I shouldn't have ran from the main room. I should have stayed with Bell all the time...
"Are you awake Spark?" Bell was awake, I don't know for how long she had been but her voice was a whisper.
"Yes Bell, I'm awake, need something?"
"I had a nightmare, I was back at Clarefield, and I saw how Carrot got shot by the raiders, and then I saw you, but you couldn't save me and I saw the raiders killing you, and then the fire came to me and burned me alive..." I could hear her sobbing and I could feel her tears in my hoof, so I pulled her closer and gave her a hug and a kiss in the forehead.
"It was just a nightmare, I'm here and I'm never leaving your side."
"You promise?" She was looking at me directly in the eyes, her eyes were red from crying.
"I promise." I told her, and I started singing to her, I wasn't as good as her but you don't have to be good to sing a lullabyHush now, Quiet now
It's time to lay your sleepy head
Hush now, Quiet now
It's time to go to bed...
"Wasteland Survival Guide?" I inspected the book as it floated in front of me, it was made by a pony named Ditzy Doo and it seems she brought a lot of these a couple of days ago. "How much do you want from it?" A bit of extra information could always help.
"A book? You come to a gun store and you decide to buy a book?" The owner told me, giving me a weird look. I came here to buy a gun, I was going to need one if I was to travel the wasteland but this book caught my attention. "I got that book for free, so you can have it that way too. Now are you going to buy a gun or not?" Free? All the more reason to take it. I figured I'd read it later if I got bored.
Now let's check the merchandise.' I looked at the weapons he had, shotguns, machine guns, revolvers and such, one of them much like the one I had before I showed him how many caps I had and asked "What can you sell me with these." The stallion just gave me a weird look, there weren't that many caps but I'm sure it wasn't that bad.
He took out 3 different weapons, a revolver, a rifle, and a very, and I mean very deteriorated sub machine gun. I wasn't an expert in guns but I knew how most of them worked and could tell when a gun was in a bad shape. "Really?" He didn't answer and I sighed.
"Choose fast kid I got other clients," Aside from Bell jumping around the place checking things out and making a mess the store was empty... "The 9mm pistol, the Varmint rifle or the 9mm smg."
I sighed again and said "I'll take the Varmint rifle." It was the one in the best condition and I hadn't still sold the ammo I found back at when I killed the radroaches so I had plenty of it.
The sooner I leave this place the better, "Come on Bell, we're going."
"Coming!" As I pushed the door open I saw Sweet and her guards so I waved a hoof to her, I hadn't seen her since we got here and I had to talk to her.
"Hey Sweet, where've you been? I couldn't find you yesterday and I had found some more stuff to... sell... Something wrong?" Was it me or she looked nervous?
"Oh good thing you're here. Change of plans, we're going now."
"No time to explain, come on we are going now!" She started heading the the border of the town, I had no other choice but to follow. I put Bell on my back and try to catch up to her, Why is she going so fast?!' And then I heard screams from behind me, a mare...
"Sweet please come back! Don't leave me just like that!" I sighed, the mare was now screaming vulgar things so I used my magic to cover Bell's ears, I wasn't even sure it was working but it was the best I could do at the time.
"Spark, what's a dildo?" Damn...
After a while Sweet had finally stopped running and I managed to catch up to her, panting heavily I glared at her and she just said: "What? Do I have something on my face?"
Our trip was uneventful at first, just a couple of geckos and radroaches, I didn't even need to use my rifle, when they somehow manage to get through Big Bang and Steel I just used the my trusty pipe to blow their teeth off. After a few hours of walking and listening to the radio, Sweet suggested we stopped to take a rest in an abandoned town, it was getting late already.
"I think we can stay here for the night."
"I'll go check out some of the buildings before we need to stand guard. Who knows, I might find something useful." Sweet nodded and I signaled Bell to come with me, I wasn't going to leave her with them. I know they saved our lives and I might be over-protective but I don't want to get her off my sight.
"Be sure to come back within the hour or you won't get dinner." Sweet said before I left, Huh, so she is cooking dinner
I went into the first building I found. It was a 3-floor building but the door was locked. I knew there was a way pick locks but I didn't know how to do it, so I went and did the reasonable thing, I slammed against the door trying to force it open, I failed and it hurt like hell. Then I heard Bell giggling and saying "Why don't you use the big hole on this wall instead of hurting yourself?" On a wall I couldn't see from where I was there was a hole big enough that a pony could fit through...
Inside there were a lot of chairs and a big desk, this must've been the reception. To the side I found a sparkle-cola machine and to my surprise it was still working, but I didn't have any bits and it was locked. I'd better learn how to pick a lock it seems useful.
On top of the desk I found some bottle caps, Who left these here anyway? I went deeper into the building and my E.F.S. caught a red mark. "Stay close Bell." I whispered to Bell and she did so, when I turned the corner I saw a robot, a big robot standing on two wheels with a dome made of glass for a head. It was the red-mark on my E.F.S. he hadn't seen me yet so I tell Bell to stay there and sneak up behind him. When I got close enough I levitated my pipe and smashed it against the guard robot and it fell to the ground.
"It's okay now Bell, come out." She did and when she saw the robot she squeaked.
"Spark! Do you know what you just did?"
"I killed a robot that was a threat to both of us and that might have killed us if he had the chance?" I replied.
"Aside from that. This robot is a security model is SC-375 and it's one of the latest security models from before the war! It's made from the strongest materials so it's armor it's really hard to break. It also has a great deal of guns and ammo that makes it great at both close and ranged combat. Its only weakness was the 'head' where the CPU," There she goes again showing off how much she knows about pre-war tech "How did you know it was its weak point?"
I just smiled at her and said: "I didn't. Anyway you said this thing has lots of guns? Let's loot it then!"
"That's not going to happen. Its guns are attached to it in a way that if they're removed they won't work anymore, but we can still grab the ammo and some scrap metal, you never know when it'll come in handy."
We continued checking the building and found a couple more robots, we weren't so lucky as to find the others looking to the other side but the things weren't made to be really bright and one sound spell and they gave me their backs. I couldn't risk going in close as the last time but I had my varmint rifle, getting close enough and using S.A.T.S. I managed to put a couple of bullets in their CPU.
We found the stairs going up to the second floor and decided we still had a bit of time and that we could check the rest of the building. The second floor was pretty much the same as the first except that in here I found some bobby pins and a screwdriver in a toolbox so I tried lockpicking the nuke-cola machine in the first floor. It wasn't really that hard but I imagine it's because the lock was simple enough.
Back in the second floor I also found a working computer, but it was locked with a password, luckily the PipBuck could help me hack into it, those Stable-Tec ponies thought of everything. Inside I found just a couple of messages with no importance, but it was nice to know that I could hack into computers.
Aside from that we also found a couple of caps here and there, and the stairs to the third floor. we thought that if we'd made it this far might as well check the whole building. Except that when we reached the top of the stairs we heard a rumble to our left and when we looked there was one of those robots, only bigger and with bigger guns. We didn't need anypony to tell us to run so I grabbed Bell and started running, I tried using my magic to make a sound behind the thing but it didn't need to turn. It just fired its weapons behind him and continued chasing us.
Then I made one last turn and I found a wall, there were no rooms to hide or any other halls to go through, my only chance of survival was to fight that thing...
Sweet Trade was sitting down in front of the bonfire Big Bang had made. She took a sip from her special soup, nopony but her knew what the soup had in it and with the taste it had nopony wanted to know, but Sweet seemed to like it anyway. She finished the thing with one last gulp and sighed in satisfaction.
She then saw Big Bang and Steel Bender had barely tried her special soup Their loss' she thought, and then noticed there were 2 ponies missing "I wonder where those two are now, their soup is going to get cold..."
"That... was... AWESOME!" Bell screamed while I panted on top of the tank-robot. I had managed to destroy it and I still don't know how, I think I just used all the luck I would have used for the rest of my lifetime...
"Well... I... think... we should... head... back... to Sweet..." She then looked at me and said:
"Don't you want to see what that thing was guarding? It must be an awesome loot if nopony ever got past it!"
"No." She then used her puppy eyes. That's unfair, let me rest for a while would you?' I just sighed and started walking with a jumping filly behind me.
We found the room quickly, we just had to follow the destruction that that robot caused. He guarded a big room with the biggest desk I had ever seen, there was a safe and a computer working. I checked the desk first and found some bottle caps in it and some ammo for a gun, but the gun was nowhere to be found, Maybe it's in the safe?' I tried lockpicking the safe but it was way too hard for me. Before I used all my bobby pins I gave up on it and checked the computer. It was a bit harder than the first computer but not that much. The password was: 'IWantBits'...
The computer had some files and schematics for inventions that could no longer be made, but a file caught my interest.
Today we found a special gem in the mines. We don't know what it does yet but we're going to find out, a couple of experiments and we should find out its purpose and if we can make profit out of it mass produce it...
That gem burned the whole lab! I don't know how it happened but that little piece of solid magic managed to somehow burn a whole room, we tried taking it off with water but not even then the flames would go off! We had to take out all the oxygen from the room, many ponies died today but I'm not ready to give this up yet...
This gem is an enigma! I can't understand how it can burn everything it touches! And now we lost so many ponies we can't continue researching it and nopony would come for job out of fear of burning alive! Damn it I'm not going to give up. I can't continue now but I'm saving it in the safe of my wall, I have the only key and nopony knows my password so nopony can use this computer to open it.
I then found the computer had two more options, the first one disabled the giant robot tank Would you look at that...' I sighed and looked at the second option, it opened the safe. Yay.
When the safe opened I the first thing I saw was the gem the pony was talking about. It was a red gem square shaped and it glowed a bit, but enough that everything in the safe had 2 shadows. I grabbed it and put it in my saddlebags, I hoped that it didn't burst into flames when I was sleeping but I doubted that would happen. I also found a lot of pre-war money, and a couple of grenades. I grabbed them and put them in my saddle bags and headed out of the building with Bell.
When we found Sweet and her guards all I wanted to do was sleep, I was so tired because of the fight with the robot tank, but Sweet said "Damn you look like hammered shit," Really? "Here you must be hungry." She gave me a bowl of soup so thick I bet I would have to chew it for it to get through my throat, still it was food.
"Thanks," I took a sip and I could barely kept myself from puking, instead I just looked at Sweet and said "Next time, I'm cooking."
I didn't even have time to have a nightmare before Steel woke me up saying that it was my turn to take guard. I didn't complain but I sure as hay would have liked to stay sleeping.
After a few minutes I got bored of looking at the nothingness and decided to give the book 'Wasteland Survival Guide by Ditzy Doo' a try. The book was full of tips and locations, it said what places to avoid and what you should have if you're ever going to explore the wasteland.
I didn't manage to finish the book before I saw a red light in my E.F.S. I immediately got up and put the book on my saddlebags and took out my Varmint rifle. There was only one red light but I didn't know what it was, for all I knew it could be a hellhound, not that hellhounds come through here... right?
I went and inspected what it was. I tried to sneak behind it but it was out in the open and too far to have a good look at it. Seems like a good opportunity to practice my new spell.
I closed my eyes and focused my magic on them, then I opened them again and focused on the creature, and then my vision zoomed in. It was a manticore, it seemed hurt but thanks to the wasteland survival guide I knew that it was still a great threat. It was worse now that it was wounded, the book also said to get away from it if you can, so I went back to the camp and woke up everyone, as quietly as I could.
"What is it Spark? I hope it's something good I was having a nice dream..." Sweet said after I woke everyone up.
"Any chance it included the mare from Haysticks?" She blushed and looked away with a hump. "Anyway I woke you up because there is a manticore nearby. I wanted to ask you what to do, it's hurt but I don't know how badly, if we stay around too long it'll catch our smell and come attack us."
"We'll have to move then, wouldn't want to have to fight a manticore, even if it's wounded."
So we decided to sneak past it, Sweet said that we should leave some of her soup to make the manticore look for it, I just answered: "We don't want to kill it remember?" And Bell giggled a bit.
I got Bell on my back because she made too much noise while walking, but we managed to sneak past it without much problem, but now we were out in the wasteland without any kind of cover and we were all tired because no one managed to sleep.
"How long till the next stop?" I asked, wondering when were we supposed to make our next stop.
"Well if I'm not wrong we should get there by tomorrow in the afternoon, that is if we don't find any trouble along the way..."
Then I remembered that I didn't ask a really important question: "Where are we going anyway?"
"Oh, I didn't tell you?" She said and giggled, "We're going to the only place in the whole wasteland you could consider a city. The place where everyone goes to drown in their sorrows or to have the greatest fun ever. The only bad thing is that you never leave with more caps than when you got there," Oh no, not that place
"We're going to Dice!"
Footnote: Level up!
New Perk: Intense Training: You might think that your battle with that giant-tank-robot might have used all your luck, but it actually gave you a bit more! You get +1 luck in your stats! Great battle by the way.
Companion Perk (Bell): Extreme Cuteness (Rank 1): Whenever Bell is in your party the merchants might notice how cute she is and give her some spare items. I mean look at those puppy eyes, here have a sweetroll.
(Author's Note: Hey guys Shadowher here, did you like the chapter? If you did good for you, if you didn't well sorry for wasting your time, I'm here to thank Kkat for making such and awesome story and all of you for taking your time to read this note. There are more thanks to give specially to the guys over at the FoE side stories compilation, you guys are awesome.)