(Author's Note: This is a fanfiction based on the world of Fallout: Equestria. Being familiar with the setting is recommended.
Chapter 1 - Horrors
“I’ve seen all kinds of things as DJ Pon3 and even before that when I was out in the Wastes. I’d seen horrors, as I’m sure you’ve seen.”
The light of day filled my vision as I awoke, or at least what passed for day in the Equestrian Wasteland. In reality the ever-present cloud cover blocked the sky and the real sunlight from view.
The Pegasi lived up there, I knew, and one day they would all come swooping down and deliver us from the evils of the wasteland.
I smirked at the foalish idea the minute I thought it. Everypony knew that the rumours of the Pegasus Enclave were bullshit, the world was fucked, and no majestic flight of imaginary saviours was ever going to change that.
I heard a noise behind me and my horn flashed as a hoof rapidly connected with my haunches. I felt only a dull thud, my shield magic kicking in a split second before the daily wake-up call could do it’s damage. The pony behind the kick, a sickly green mare named Choke Hold, towered over me.
“Get up Buckler” She spat my name with clear contempt. “Blood Money wants t’ get goin’, ‘fore the stock can get lively and try somet’in’ funny.”
I sighed heavily and she kicked me again. This time I wasn’t ready and her hoof left a painful throb in my side.
“I said now! Or I’ll smack ya so hard you’ll need to ride with ‘em.”
With that she turned and trotted off, the scrap metal plates hastily cobbled together to form barding swaying with her body.
I quickly packed and checked my few meager possessions in my frayed saddlebags; three frag grenades, a cracked but useable magical battery, 4 bobby pins and a screwdriver, a harmonica, a bottle of water, a box of sugar apple bombs, and finally, a single memory orb - my most prized possession.
As I held it carefully in my magical hold I felt the brief urge to delve once again into it’s depths. Within the small orb was the memory of somepony, recorded using ancient magic during the Great War. It was a good one, I’d already watched it several dozen times since finding it, but I resisted the urge to reach out further with my magic and allow myself to embrace the memory.
None of the others would be too pleased, especially Blood Money.
I closed my saddlebags and strapped my, now rolled, sleeping bag to them. Finally I levitated the 9mm pistol that I had slept with into it’s holster on my gear and trotted out from my sleeping position.
We’d slept in the ruins of what I assumed had once been some sort of office. It was a simple two-story affair, although the roof and most of the upper walls had caved in long ago, leaving some ideal barricades behind which the crew had slept. I had personally slept right on the edge of the roof, shielded from potential attackers by an upturned metal desk. The rest of the crew had already vacated the top floor, probably gathered outside waiting for me to finally arrive.
Descending the stairs that led from the “roof” to the bottom floor, our cargo quickly came into view. There were seven of them, weak ponies of various ages. Former settlers, now slaves, we had raided their ramshackle camp during the day while the stronger fighters were hunting and taken as many as possible prisoner. Now they all sat together, holding each other in our ramshackle wagon, each wearing an explosive collar, standard equipment for slavers.
Choke Hold and a heavy set blue buck named Obelisk were already hooked up to the wagon, ready to pull the wagon the miles that we intended to cover.
Our leader, Blood Money, a dark red buck with a cropped silver mane and tail watched with cool indifference as the slaves were pulled towards him. The rest of the crew were idling around him, obviously waiting for me to arrive before we set out. As I approached, he spoke, his deep voice steady with a hint of anger.
"So you're here." His gaze felt like it could strip away my skin. "I told you all we were moving out early and still Choke Hold had to wake you."
"Sorry. I-." My apology was cut short by the stallion smacking me hard across the face. My jaw stung and I could feel myself flushing from a combination of the pain, anger and embarrassment. Somepony behind me snickered.
"I don't care Buckler. We all have to follow orders or we die." His tone made it clear that he clearly didn't really mean "we". He turned away from me and addressed the group. "Everyone get moving. I want to get down to Appleloosa before we start running low on supplies or start losing sales." He glanced at me again. "Unless you all like eating radroach meat?"
The question was left unanswered, as with that he turned and start off west, scanning the horizon for threats.. The rest of the crew started after him, Obelisk and Choke Hold grunting as they fought to gain momentum with the wagon.
I fell to the ground as I felt a powerful shove from behind me. Rupture, deep red like his father, but with pale yellow fuzz in place of his father’s silver and a bloody, vicious looking dagger for a cutie mark instead of the bloody pile of coins that his father sported, snickered as the powerful buck walked past me. He wore a poor excuse for barding like Choke Hold, but slung across his back was a battle saddle supporting two assault rifles, our most powerful weapon, and attached to his leg was a PipBuck.
It was practically a crime that he had been given the thing after we had “liberated” it from a lone Stable Pony out on her own, but he was the best fighter in the crew and the boss’ son. Regardless, he could barely use the inventory manager on the thing, let alone understand all the little indicators and benefits the machine gave him.
He caught me staring at it, brought his foreleg up close to his body and smirked, before walking away with an air of superiority.
He knew that I would never get something like it. My job was protecting, not attacking. The round iron and wood shield on my flank spoke of my special talent - an unmatched natural affinity for creating magical force fields that I had discovered when I was young and naive and I desperately wanted to protect the people in my life. One day a raider group had attacked the camp, and as one rounded on a much younger Choke Hold I had screamed and reflexively summoned a magical shield. The bullets he fired were useless and he was stunned long enough for the crew to dispatch him, and for me to notice my shiny new cutie mark.
Since then I was the guardspony, the pony who protected the rest of them, the pony who got in the way whenever he tried to do anything else. The only other thing I was any good at was repairing weapons, something I had learned from my father. I was learning to lockpick, but they didn’t know that yet and I hoped to keep it that way.
I pulled myself to my hooves and started after the rest of our twelve strong crew of slaver ponies. It was going to be a long day again.
*** *** ***
The billboard by the side of the road advertised that Equestria was “like one big happy family”, written in giant cartoony letters above a faded image of a pink earth pony, some kind of wartime leader, spreading her arms before several smiling fillies. I couldn’t help but think that there was something sinister in the way the pony was staring, not at the fillies but straight out in a way that made it seem like it was watching passers-by. Another phrase below the picture informed the reader that “The MoM keeps her family safe - join the Ministry of Moral today!”
I smirked. That was our crew, one big “happy family” - a bunch of ponies I could barely tolerate and several that I outright couldn’t stand. My only real family, my father, Cobble, had passed away a couple of years ago from a lucky shot to the chest fired by a would-be slave liberator. The other pony had still died of course, but we had no real treatment to give and we’d lost one member that day.
I never really mourned, my father was just as much an asshole as the rest of the crew, the only difference being that he at least defended me when it benefited him. All he had ever taught me was how to fire and fix a weapon, his own special talent.
We had been travelling west along an old highway, preparing to turn south with another road towards Appleloosa, and hopefully a good price for our haul. I’d been watching the billboard pass for the best part of an hour to avoid the dreariness of the walk.
I’d been stationed towards the rear of the wagon to watch our cargo. If we ran into trouble my first priority was to shield them from attack. If they were harmed we could kiss any profit goodbye.
Looking at them, I felt almost envious. They were simple settlers, traders and hunters who probably loved and appreciated each other. I had been born a Slaver, it wasn’t a life I had chosen and not one I particularly wanted, but still one I could not leave. If I left the crew, if I even could without instantly being cut down for betraying them, I had nothing and nowhere to go.
A rumble of thunder snapped me out of my contemplation. Looking north I could see black roiling clouds heading our way, away from a patch of sky above a ring of hills known as the Rim.
I’d heard tales from merchants down south about the area within the Rim, a place that was dangerous and weird even by wasteland standards, and the ponies that lived there even more dangerous and weird. Apparently it was filled with creatures more dangerous than a Hellhounds and environmental hazards worse than radiation, Taint and even the fabled Pink Cloud that filled Canterlot.
I wasn’t sure about all that, but the rumors of deadly weather originating from the area seemed true enough, that storm looked fierce and the others up ahead hadn’t failed to notice either.
“Faster, everypony!” Blood Money barked as we picked up the pace. “Let’s get as far as we can before that slows us down!”
*** *** ***
We didn’t get far before it started raining, little more before the storm hit us in it’s entirety.
The torrential rain soaked me through and the freezing winds used this as an opportunity to bite deep into my body. The black skies above rumbled with thunder as huge flashes of lightning illuminated the world for brief seconds, but blinding us at the same time.
“Maybe the Pegasi are having a party.” Offered a young colt named Tripwire, wiping his sopping wet brown mane out of his eyes. No one laughed, the rest just trudged along through the dirt with the same sour expressions we’d all worn since the storm hit. We had had to turn off the highway mere minutes before the storm hit and now even the ground below us was against us.
Another rumble of thunder rocked the world, much louder than before and I felt a shiver run up my back. Blood Money couldn’t have us keep going like this, either we’d drop from the freezing winds or we’d lose the wagon in the slush that we were now walking through, Obelisk and Choke Hold were already struggling against the mud and wind.
Regardless, our fearless leader was plowing along with his head held high. He wasn’t one to give in and he clearly had some waypoint in mind before we were allowed to stop. How he could judge this was beyond me, the falling rain and dark of the storm meant that I could barely see the lead buck as he walked not 30 hooves in front of me.
A fresh roll of thunder started, disguising the bang as a bullet erupted from the gloom to our left and hit home in Tripwire’s side, sending the colt sprawling bleeding in the muck. The shot instantly put us into battle mode, everypony taking cover and looking towards the direction of the shot in a futile effort to see our attackers, while I quickly put a protection spell around the slaves cowering in their wagon, surrounding them with a faint silver bubble.
I heard a faint *thrump* and then *whoosh* to our rear and instantly dove to the side, trying desperately to maintain my concentration on the spell, quick enough to avoid being engulfed in an explosion as it rocked the wagon. Three more instantly followed, lifting the wagon off its wheels and sending it flying. I could see Obelisk flying with it, still attached to the thing, and heard the sickening crack as he hit the ground with a look of panic frozen on his face, his body ridiculously twisted in a way that I knew was fatal.
My shield had saved the majority of the slaves, although two were now lying on the ground in obvious pain. I looked around and counted 7 of our crew still standing, desperately trying to fight an invisible enemy.
I released the shield protecting the slaves and instantly recast a new one, encasing the entire area and stopping several bullets short. Blood Money turned to me and nodded in approval. Like me, he knew that the shield wouldn’t hold for long at all, but the enemy didn’t know that, and it might force them out of hiding.
Sure enough, several ponies were suddenly visible running at us, armed with a mix of vicious looking melee weapons and guns and outfitted in even worse quality barding than the few in our crew wore - Raiders.
My shield dropped as they smashed into it with their weapons and they flew into open combat with our ponies. I watched as Choke Hold and her twin Choke Chain exploded the head of one, the grips of their 9mm submachine guns wedged firmly in their mouths, only for Chain to have his body sliced with an enormous sword wielded by one of the raiders. He fell and Hold turned, rage in her eyes. She brought her bare hooves up and smashed them down with her terrible strength, instantly killing the pony. She screamed a mix of triumph and sorrow as she continued to stomp on her fallen body, blood splattering her green coat and then being sent running down it by the pouring rain.
I heard a sound to my right and ducked as a unicorn raider fired a shoddy bolt-action rifle in my general direction. He stopped and grinned at me, levitating out the grenade rifle that had assaulted us earlier. I braced myself but instead of firing at me he laughed maniacally and turned fired at the huddle of slaves in the mud.
I screamed an incoherent protest as the 40mm grenade shot towards the group, detonating directly on target and engulfing them in an explosion before I could react to protect them. Instantly their explosive collars also detonated, rocking the area with an almighty inferno that erupted with sound and light.
My ears ringing, I turned to the raider who was now noiselessly cackling at the display. I levitated out my pistol and sent two bullets into his shoulder and stomach.
As he dropped I saw Blood Money locked in close combat with a muscle-bound raider swinging a sledgehammer with his teeth as our leader was pushed back, using the stock of his own assault rifle to block the blows. Even as I fired thrice at the huge stallion a final swing shattered the stock and caved in the red pony’s skull. Both dead ponies fell in on each other in a heap.
I desperately searched for a living pony and saw it in the form of Rupture, kneeling injured in the dirt but still laying down fire on three ponies hiding behind a formation of rocks, biting the bit of his battle saddle for all his worth.
He was firing a steady stream of bullets and I knew what the raiders were trying to do, but my warning came out silent to me and probably as gibberish to him. I watched as the special clip on the battle saddle slowly ran out of bullets, until finally the rifles simple clicked and refused to fire any more.
The three raiders walked out from behind their barricade and as I watched in horror one of them plunged a jagged combat knife into Rupture’s eye, blood squirting back onto his face. My hearing returning I could faintly hear the two mares beside him laughing. My gun rose and fired.
One bullet embedded itself in one head, the other went wide and then I was out. The two survivors turned to me, smiling still, and started to advance on me, one wielding a baseball bat with several blades embedded in the tip and the other, a unicorn, casually levitating a submachine gun.
I backed off as they advanced, desperately searching my mind for an idea, an option for escape. One presented itself, but the idea was so ludicrous that it seemed futile to even try.
I didn’t really have a choice though.
My horn glowed with a silver glow and I telepathically reached into my saddlebags, concentrating to find the objects I needed. I stopped just short of the wagon, now on fire from the collar’s explosion despite the rain, and stared down the raiders, daring them to come closer.
They simply looked amused and continued to approach, the unicorn mare with the gun straightening it slightly and pointing it at me.
“No!” The pony with the baseball bat mumbled from around the grip, so I had to strain to understand the speech. “He can’t fight, look at him. Let’s have some fun first.”
“Good idea.” She agreed, then turning to me; “What do you think? You ready to play?”
“Fuck you!” I screamed back, pulling the frag grenades from my saddlebags, minus their pins, and tossing them into the gap between us. My horn ceased glowing and then immediately lit again as the grenades reached the peak of their arc.
The bastards at least had the decency to look terrified as the grenade exploded and the world filled with light, and then went dark.
New Perk: Tough Shield -- Your recent use of magical barriers has made you more proficient with them. Magical force fields you project can now withstand 10% more damage.
Increased based proficiency with magical force fields.
This Fic is based on Fallout Equestria, which you can find here: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2011/04/story-fallout-equestria.html
Huge thanks to Kkat for writing it and creating the world for us all to play around in.
More thanks to my pre-reader and editor, Jeff.
Locations and events in this story are inspired by the 1972 novel Roadside Picnic, the 2007 video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and the 1979 film Stalker. Familiarity with these pieces is not required but is encouraged.
Any resemblance to any other pieces of fan fiction is merely coincidental.
Any criticism is welcome and encouraged.