• Published 14th May 2013
  • 1,770 Views, 41 Comments

Fallout Equestria: Monsters - Gamma Deekay



In the years before the bombs fell, there were many ponies who fought for Equestria. Some ponies fought and won great battles, some saved many lives in the field. Deadbolt Tumbler didn't want to be a hero, he just wanted to do his job and go home.

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The Voice of Hush - Full

It was getting hard to stay awake, the pain of the gunshot that punched through my cutie mark was almost unbearable. The remote detonator wavered in my horn's levitation as I tried to concentrate. I could hear the first hinge on the ordinance bunker's door ping to the floor as it was cut out, the mechanical saw shrieking again as it dug into the second hinge. My heart beat wildly in my chest as I tried to stem the crimson flowing from my wound.

I won't let you kill anymore of my friends, nor anypony else. Not with these weapons, you monsters. I cringed as I flipped the clear safety flap off the small U-shaped device, revealing a small, square, red button on the inner curve. It reminded me of home.

---

My Family lived in the rural part of town occupying a small one story house at the edge of a small cul-de-sac. I was the only child my parents had adopted, my mothers, who had been together for nearly thirty years had loved and supported me as I grew up into a stallion. They said I was special when they saw me in the orphanage, that I was destined for greatness, but I know now that it's just something you tell every foal when they are growing up. Stories like the ones that told of how monsters once roamed Equestria in the decades before the war. I stopped believing in those stories long ago, but I loved both my mothers like nopony else when they told me them.


So came the day just after my eighteenth birthday, when I had just come back from the factory where it had been a hard day's work. There I used my knack for locksmithing to build breeches on the artillery cannons that would be shipped out to the front lines. My mothers were proud of me when I got to help out with the war effort, their special stallion was helping the good guys win the war. But I had never been one for emotions, and didn't harbor any feelings about the conflict one way or the other. Never had, and I thought I never would.

It was only two months ago, on that day in late June, when I had gotten the letter. It detailed that one Mr. Deadbolt Tumbler was to immediately report to the nearest recruitment center for basic combat and demolitions training. My mothers were very adamant that I fight to stay, telling me that I could convince them that my skills were more useful at the factory. But it's just another job, nothing more nothing less, and some pony has to do it.

Without much fanfare, but an abundance of tears, that afternoon I was put on a skybus of new recrutes heading for Marimare. I sat uncomfortably near the back as the other recruits blathered on about how they were going to slaughter the zebra gloriously and win the war single hoofedly. I huffed and brushed my purple mane from my face as I stared blankly out the window.

"I know you... Deadbolt, right?" The scratchy voice of a mare spoke from over my shoulder. I turned around to the sight of a teal colored earth pony. Her short cut black mane jutted stiffly over her green eyes as she stared over the seat at me. "You sat in front of me back in school, Mrs. Gardner's class." I nodded slowly, honestly not remembering anypony from back then. I had always been so focused on my studies that I had never even made any friends. Why would I need friends if when I grew up I just needed to do work? You get up, you go to work, you do your job, and you come home. It was simple, that was what life was.

She pulled herself up and over the bench, plopping down next to me with a heavy thump. She leaned back over and drug her duffle bag over, dropping it onto the floor in front of her. "I hear you got yourself stuck in demolitions as well. Looks like we'll be working together again, just like old times eh? Maybe this time you can take Mrs. Gardner's advice and let me do some of the actual work." She nudged me jokingly as I simply stared at her. I didn't need friends on the battlefield, I just needed to do my job so I could go home.

"The other foals back in the day thought it was weird you wouldn't speak, but I overheard somepony say that you can't for some reason." She said as she flipped her duffle bag around, pulling out a plump red apple. I watched with intrigue as she tapped along the side of the apple diligently with the edge of her hoof, smiling as the crisp fruit cracked neatly in half. She stuffed a half in her mouth and chewed as she spoke, holding the other half out towards me. "See, I heard you were a mute, any truth to that?"

I floated the apple half in front of me, looking it over before shrugging. I had always been told that not being able to talk was a disability, but I never once found it to inhibit anything I wanted to do. I looked out the window as we sped over a luscious green forest, sighing as I watched the sun hanging low over the horizon, wondering if Celestia would still watch over me in the coming weeks.

"Friend, I don't care if your deaf, dumb, or blind. I'll protect your pretty white flank out in the field all the same. Don't you worry, as long as we stick together, we'll be back home in no time at all!" She remarked playfully as she finished her half of the apple and got up, walking towards the front to talk to some other pony she must have known. Her talking to me was the first time any pony had really gone out of their way to hold my attention, and that got me to think, working together generally makes the work go smoother, and that meant getting back home faster. I bit into the apple half, thinking maybe there was something to this whole 'friend' idea after all.


During the first few weeks at basic training, Command had told us that we were encouraged to use nicknames to help us coordinate better as a team. I had gotten to know the few ponies in my squad quite well during that time, and felt closer to them now than I had with anypony outside of my mothers. As it turns out, being friends with somepony not only makes the work faster, but it also makes it more enjoyable! Getting enjoyment from work felt... wrong, but how could it be?


In truth, it was probably going faster because each of us brought a different asset to the team, but my new friends were the most interesting collection of ponies I'd ever been around. There was the brute of an earth pony stallion we knew as Digger, who kept telling us he was related to legendary Big Macintosh on account of his ability to carry not only our gear, but the other three training groups gear as well. I don't know why he always bragged about being related to Big Mac, but it probably had more to do with how his rusty coat and blondish mane got quite a few mares to ask, than actually being related to him.


Then there was the lovely red maned and leaf green coated, unicorn mare we knew as Rose. Her levitation had such a fluid touch, she could prepare our mine clearing equipment perfectly, even under the worst simulated fire. She even made it look good doing it. Lastly, there was Hammer, the teal mare I knew from school. Nopony on base had been able to drive a Bangalore deeper into the dirt than her earth pony legs could, not that it didn't stop them from trying to beat her. She had made quite a pile of bits over the last few weeks off of others foalish bets, and she made sure to flaunt it.


Then there was me, the tiny mute unicorn my friends knew as Hush. I had been given the job of disarming the undetonated mines because of my talent. Having a locksmithing talent gave me excellent control over tools in my levitation, so much so that after the barracks pantry had been raided for alcohol twice, they switched the lock from a key, to a digital pad. I never shared in the alcohol, but it did feel good to have peers praise you for your work. That was something that I had missed in my life up till then, and I don't know how I couldn't have cared for it before.


These three were the first friends I had ever made in my life. I had never thought we could all help each other so much, and it showed. Our squad scored top marks in training, being cited as 'working cohesively with unparalleled efficiency under extreme circumstances', and even as I didn't want to be deployed to the front lines, I felt the pride of teamwork I had missed out on as a foal.

---

The second bunker door hinge fell to the ground with a ping. My white coat half stained crimson with my own blood as I lay against a cold crate of artillery shells, I had lost all feeling in my rear legs as I tried to keep myself focused. They were almost through, just two more pins until I could do my part to cleanse the world of some of its monsters.

---

It was my job to disarm any mines that failed to go off on our first mission, and we all had the jitters as our Vertibuck touched down inside Forward Operations Base 223, this particular spot of dirt we were fighting for was along the battle lines outside Hoofington. Camp 223 had the highest casualty rate for demolitions teams due to the fact it was purposely erected inside the middle of a minefield. Set inside a crater a couple hundred meters across, Command figured that if we couldn't get out easily, then the the zebras needed to do the same amount of work to get in.

The rear ramp opened as a sea of gunfire poured out from the steep dirt slopes around the forward command post, keeping the zebras from getting more than a few badly aimed pot shots off at our ride. We kept our heads low as we piled out and headed across the landing zone for the command tent, surprised to see our lieutenant was a stallion not much older than me. He was probably fresh out of officers training and shouting at us to do our jobs while he concerned himself with cowering under his desk, which wasn't surprising to me at all. We made our way to the sheltered ordinance bunker that sat half buried in the ground, getting our gear on quickly before heading out for the front line.

Everything went as we had been trained for, Hammer set the Bangalore, blew it, then I checked for failed detonations while Rose prepared the next charge from Digger's back. It went like clockwork as we cut a hole in the zebra defenses one layer at a time. With each path cleared, we heard the cheering and shouting from the soldiers supporting our advance. That was when I felt it, something that had only happened to me so few times in my life I could count them on my hooves, I was smiling. I don't normally feel any emotions, but I had been surprised by their appearance multiple times since leaving home, the world was not as simple as I had once thought it was. The world was vibrant and full of wonder, even here, now, in the middle of a Battlefield, I was in awe, not quite sure how I had never felt it before. There was something amazing behind every shout, a surge of energy behind every cheer, the unity of ponies working together inspired me in a way nothing else had.


That night, after the fighting had died down and we had made it back to base, the four of us sat around a fire in the center of camp. I sipped lightly on one of the Sparkle-colas the lieutenant had us given as a little reward for clearing more mines in one day than any team in the last three weeks had. I couldn't help but watch Digger with a smile as he was spouting an outrageous story of how he somehow simultaneously bed six mares back home. I was pretty sure that would even be a stretch for Big Mac' to pull off, let alone Digger. Rose pretended to nod off sarcastically, her horn glowing dimly and slowly pouring her soda out over his head. Hammer jumped to her hooves to hold him back as he shook his hoof in exaggerated anger.

But I had lost interest in his words, my eyes were set upon the only pony in this whole camp worth looking at. The way that Rose's mane reflected the light from the fire was entrancing, her eyes sparkled with each flicker. She giggled to herself before looking over to me, her muzzle had the sweetest of smiles on it. I held my breath as she walked towards me, hoping that maybe, just maybe...


"Hush, darling, do you have a moment?" The dainty mare said as she slowly strolled past. The words were music to my ears as I got up and followed her. I had the most embarrassing crush on her since the moment I laid eyes on her, a flutter in my chest reminded me of this every time I looked at her. We walked slowly towards the south end of camp, stopping when nopony else was around. Her silhouette shimmered in the evening moonlight as she turned to look at me with her jade eyes.

"It's come to my attention that you seem to... appreciate my beauty." She said as she used her magic to bounce her mane softly. "But you see... oh how do I put this delicately..." She cringed as she caught me blushing. At that point, I think my mind knew where this was going, even if I didn't want it to be true. "You are simply an amazing stallion, don't take this the wrong way, but you see, the problem is that I'm already engaged." She looked down to me with her caring eyes, her kind words slicing deep into places in my soul I didn't even know had existed before today. "He's waiting for me in Canterlot for when I get back from all this dreadful fighting. Believe me, I am quite flattered that you think of me like that, although I'm sorry to say that he stole my heart long ago."


She leaned her muzzle close and gave me a light kiss on the cheek. "I'm sure that there'll be a lovely mare waiting for you when you get back." She forced a nervous smile, making me turn away slowly. That night was the first time I had ever had my heart broken, the first time I had truly known the pain of loneliness. Funny that it hurt so much, seeing as outside my mothers, I have always been alone in my life. It was a rude shock that helped remind me that I just wanted to do my job and go home. To go back home to my uninteresting life of fixing locks for ponies who couldn't maintain theirs, or had simply forgotten their keys. I was not a pony who needed others, I was the pony whom others needed.


But locksmithing seemed like ages ago. A simple time when I could be content in knowing that the ponies appreciated my work, even if they never uttered any sincere thanks. That was the life I wanted back. No more working to build weapons in the unsightly factory they built on the edge of town, no more demolitions duty to clear mine after mine in a war I still didn't care about. Most importantly, no more chances for me to get fooled into thinking that this was any better of a life than I had back home. But tomorrow was another day, and just as I had been trained for it, I had a job to do. And just like any other job, we all needed sleep.


We were rudely awoken before dawn when the zebra's started shelling the camp. We scrambled from our small tents towards the raised earth barrier that marked our forward line as shell after shell exploded. A unicorn ran by as one detonated in the camp, her levitation dropping a bolt action rifle to the ground as the blast blew a chunk of metal into her skull, killing her instantly. I stared at her purple coat and mane as blood pooled in the dirt around her, the sound of screaming came from across the camp as the night lit up. An immense feeling of fear pumped through my veins as I watched a set of ponies on the opposite rim of camp transform into nothing more than rings of red gore. Rose levitated the fallen mare's rifle over and thrust it against me as she leaned into the dirt mound beside me.

"Just stay calm and we'll make it through this. I've been in this type of situation before, it's just the same as every time daddy takes me to one of his business parties, just maintain your calm an we'll do fine." She said lightheartedly as her worried eyes stared at me. She put a hoof on my shoulder as I nodded slowly and shivered, trying unsuccessfully to stop myself from hyperventilating . "We can do this, Hush. Just aim, and fire."

I poked my head up over the mound to look, ducking back down as a round sent the dirt next to my head up in a shower. I wasn't sure how was I supposed to aim if I couldn't see where the bad guys were. Another artillery shell slammed into the camp, hitting one of the larger personnel tents square in the center. The tent exploded into splinters of wood and meaty chunks of ponies, another wave of screams arose from the camp as the wounded cried out for help. I was shaking so bad I almost lost hold on the rifle, the sling mounts sounded themselves like bombshells going off as they rattled.


"Hush, look at me dear." Rose's voice was as smooth as silk, an oasis to drown out the chaos around us. I felt her magic wrap around mine, steadying the rifle again. I looked over to her as she gave me the same smile from near the fire, my body unable to remember what I was so afraid of. "I know it's frightening, but we need to keep ourselves ready." She spun around and looked over the camp.


I looked across along the rim of the mound, gasping as a striped figure dove over the top from the outside, the blurred movement of a silver sword all I could see before the stallion hiding on the edge dropped to the ground dead. I reacted without thinking, swinging my rifle around to fire on the enemy intruder. The loud report of Rose's rifle startled me, her shot taking the top of the Zebra's skull off as he was running towards camp. The zebra tumbled forward and skid a few meters from the lieutenant's tent only moments before he poked his head out and looked up to us. She frowned softly as she lowered the rifle, distraught over taking the life of the Zebra intruder.

It wasn't long after when Digger and Hammer joined us on the wall, the thunderous artillery finally letting up as an eerie silence fell over camp 223. We all looked uneasily between each other as we lay against that wall, unsure if a zebra soldier would appear and attack at any given moment. I could only hope that if one did, I would have more of a chance to react than the unfortunate stallion of earlier. Only as the sun rose, were we told to return to our duties. As we passed his tent, I overheard the lieutenant talking over the radio that the zebra attack hours before was in response to a chemical weapon our pegasi support managed to drop into their main southern camp and that camp 223 was instructed to clear a path to the north camp.

After getting our de-mining gear, we trotted back up towards the dirt mound that was becoming all too familiar, eager to do our work. Hammer held her hoof out as she looked over the crest of the hill, causing the rest of us to crouch low and freeze. We were told that a set up like this was the most dangerous part of de-mining each day, the risk of snipers or enemy machine gun fire was high enough that after one of us checks if it's clear, we were supposed to dive over the rim. A soldier a few meters down the line from us fired a single shot with his rifle, smiling and calling out to some ponies below as he looked over the edge as well. Curiosity got the better of me as I crept up and peered over, viewing as a lone zebra walked towards us with a white flag in its muzzle.

The guard half shouted an obscenity I couldn't make out before he fired again, hitting the surrendering zebra in the rear leg. I heard it let out a roar of pain, still biting hard on it's flag as it waved it around. This roused more laughter from the guard as the small group walked up from below to watch. He worked the bolt and fired again, hitting the zebra in the shoulder, getting another scream of pain. As I watched the scene play out, an odd sensation welled up inside. It was something I hadn't felt before in my life, and I wasn't sure how to put it. I felt sick to my stomach, yet saddened by the sight. I felt like I didn't want to see this happen, but it was more than that, like this was fundamentally wrong on a level I couldn't comprehend.


"That's just unnecessary and cruel." Rose said as she unslung her rifle from her gear, taking careful aim before sending her shot into the zebra's head. A collective groan from the soldier and his group drew my eyes. I watched as Digger galloped the short distance over to the group, shucking off our supplies as he went. He spun and bucked the rifle stallion right in the chest, dropping him to the ground as the large red stallion stomped him relentlessly. The others around him paused in shock before they tried to stop the brutal scene, but I don't think Celestia herself could have pulled him back.

I knew it was wrong, but I cheered for him softly in the back of my mind, the soldier's life meant nothing as jealousy consumed me, it was an eye for an eye, a life for a life, and I wanted it to be my hooves beating that demented pony to a pulp. How could somepony find enjoyment in the mistreatment of others? How was it that somehow, I felt justified in thinking that this was alright?

A few minutes after the others managed to pull him off, Digger was finally escorted off into camp. A few soldiers told us to wait where we were until the situation could be assessed. So there we waited in silence. Hammer just sat with her hooves crossed, muttering to herself how 'that bastard deserved it', meanwhile Rose just stared sadly across the base, only brightening up when a soldier trudged up the dirt to see us.

He instructed us that we were to take the rest of the day off, but to report back to the command tent for an announcement that all non essential personnel were required to attend. We followed as we were told and were led down through the camp, everypony eyeing us angrily as we wound between the groups. The mass of soldiers did there best to make it difficult to get past as they formed a tight circle around the command post, grumbling about our squad being a disgrace to all Equestria. When we finally pushed our way through, we saw a badly beaten Digger tied to a wooden pole, blood pouring from the sides of his muzzle as he heaved with deep, laborious breaths.

"This THING, is an example of how everypony you know can't be trusted. How the zebras corrupt anything they can get their hooves on." The lieutenant walked slowly around Digger as I watched Hammer hold her anger back, I could tell she wanted to rip the cowardly lieutenant to ribbons, uttering a low growl as he passed by her. "We have no tolerance for zebra lovers here in this camp. It is with a heavy heart, and by Luna's divine grace, that I hereby charge this stallion with treason!"

Rose cried out and sank to her knees, weeping loudly as the lieutenant drew his pistol with his levitation, the ornately decorated silver revolver with ivory grips, glistened in the morning sunlight. "To which, the well known sentence, is death." The young officer said with a small smile, pulling the trigger sharply. Digger's lifeless body slid limply down against the wooden pole as Hammer bellowed in rage, galloping up and striking the officer with a right hook. She reared up for another, trying her best to repeat the beating we had witnessed earlier, but was unable to finish it when she was tackled by a pair of soldiers.

I stood in bewilderment at the sight before me. Rose was crippled on the ground in grief, streaming tears onto the dry dirt and wailing out as Hammer bucked and fought against the hold of the stallions keeping her from killing the grinning lieutenant. The young officer who had just ended the life of one of my friends did nothing but point his hoof, instructing them to drag her off as he went back into his tent. As Hammer was drug off and the crowd dispersed, I was sure I was supposed to feel something inside, but there was nothing. After all the emotions cropping up in me over the last few days, I felt hollow again.

---

The third pin dropped to the floor, rolling across the smooth surface as the door canted forward, the angry mutters of monsters on the other side filled the room. The detonator dropped out of my hold and onto the floor, skidding away for a moment before I pulled it back with my levitation. The will to succeed slowly drawing my drifting mind back to lucidity again. I just needed to finish this one last thing, to help do my part for Equestria.

---

We had been confined to our drab tent for the last day as we awaited a replacement for Digger. I spent most of the last twenty four hours time brushing Rose's mane as she sobbed on her cot, not having moved since she climbed onto it after the execution. She had convinced herself that if she had just let that bastard of a stallion keep shooting the zebra, then maybe Digger would still be alive. I knew that there was no right answer as to what we could have done differently, I just wished that there was some way I could make Rose see it.

I listened and watched as Hammer paced in circles, ranting for hours about how she'd kill the young officer next chance she got. How it wasn't fair that Digger didn't even get a trial, yet she would probably be slapped with a court martial for striking a superior officer. As the midday sun sank lower and lower, I wondered if they would tell the replacement pony about why they were called in, or if they would just show up and we'd get to work. My thoughts had been interrupted as an orange stallion dipped his head through the tent flap, shyly walking in and dumping his bag on the floor.

"H...hey..." He spoke softly as he slowly went to sit on Digger's cot.

"That's not yours." Hammer said in an angry, low tone. "That belongs to Digger. You get the floor."

"B...but they t...told me..." the stallion stuttered out sadly as he instead dropped his rump on the floor. "H...he was k...killed in a..action."

"He was murdered by that FUCKWIT of an officer!" She said as she stomped up to him, pressing her muzzle against his as he trembled.

"Hammer..." Rose spoke up softly, making me stop my brushing. "It's not his fault. He was given orders to be here, not because he wanted to replace Digger"

"Don't give me that shit, Rose." She said as she kicked at the dirt floor. "Besides, Hush agrees with me. Don't you?" Her eyes shot over angrily. I didn't move. Although I thought that the lieutenant should be punished, I knew that hammer shouldn't take her frustrations out on an innocent stallion. Hammer let out a soft laugh in disbelief as I just sat and stared.

"Fucking brilliant. You're all willing to sit here while he get's away with murder?" She bucked back and snapped her own cot in half, sending it through the fabric on the side of the tent. "Fuck you Hush, you're too in love with Rose to think about anypony else. You foals didn't even try to stop his death, you didn't deserve Digger's friendship." She spat on the floor as Rose began to cry again. I felt a dangerous emotion chipping away at me, a deep regret welling up inside as I sat in the tent. I should have fought harder for him, maybe I could have helped. As night drew ever closer, I just wanted to get back to work so I could go home.

We were awoken the next morning by a pair of soldiers who handed us our new orders. We were to move south and blast a path to the camp cleared by the chemical weapons and to secure any intelligence they had left behind. The four of us made our way to the sunken bunker, gathered up our gear, and headed out without so much as a single word spoken. As we trotted by the post where Digger was still hanging at, I noticed the soldiers had set signs with profanities written on them next to his bloody corpse. 'Zebra lover' and 'Traitor' were two of the more popular ones set out. I heard Rose let out a soft whimper, meanwhile Hammer charged past us lividly, running to the dirt hill.

We did our job as we were told, clearing out line after line of mines as we cut a swath towards the empty zebra camp. The blast of the Bangalore was my signal to move, getting to my hooves as I crawled through the thin trench the explosive made. I reached the far rim and looked over, met only by one of the most horrifying sights of my life. The half melted zebra's expression was frozen in a look of sheer terror and indescribable pain. I couldn't stop looking at the corpse, my mind etching it deep into my memories for use in nightmares. The sound of Rose hurling loudly into the dirt broke me out of the gruesome trance. The others had moved up behind me and were now looking over the reason we were held up.

"This is appalling." She managed to cough out as she wiped a hoof across her muzzle.

"Welcome to the war." Hammer said coldly as she pushed past the delicate mare. "Now shut your muzzle and do your job." She pushed me aside and lined up the next Bangalore, kicking it in without hesitation.

This wasn't war, war is when two sides fight, this was needless slaughter. We had plenty of ways to kill them quickly, why make them suffer? The radio blaring the order to push forward brought more of the same. Prep, blow, check, disarm, move up. Everything went flawlessly as it always had, so when the mortar shell came screaming down, landing a few feet from me, I was quite surprised. I went to scream as the small bomb detonated, sending me flying back into the dirt, fading in and out of black as pain rang through my body.

I passed out as our replacement stallion ran me back to camp, coming to again in the medical tent's bed after what seemed like only a moment. My head hurt and the florescent lighting of the tent stung my eyes, the doctor walked over as he saw me stir.

"Private Tumbler, you are unbelievably fortunate. Not many survive a mortar blast from that distance, and the ones who do tend to be hurt a lot more than mere shrapnel. To be fair though, one piece nearly severed off your rear left leg, but we managed to repair most of the damage over the last few days." He looked up to me with a smile as he hooked his clipboard onto the edge of my cot. "We needed to keep you under sedation so it could heal, but other than a minor limp and soreness, you should be fine in time." As he walked away, I looked around for any sign of my friends, trying to do my best to ignore the pain from my healing wounds and bruised muscles.

After a few hours of sitting and waiting, I heard an odd sound drifting through the camp. I perked my ears up and heard a happy, upbeat polka was playing. Sprite Bot? No, the tune was too crisp to be playing through a speaker. I sat up and turned myself to hop off the bed, feeling a sharp pain when I put pressure on my rear leg. I favored it as I hobbled out of the tent, looking around at the odd celebration going on around me.

It was nighttime out, the full moon burned brightly in the dark sky. I overhead a mare talking to one of the nurses behind me, saying that they had apparently come back victorious from taking all the dirt leading to the next camp and that command had given every pony in 223 the night off to celebrate. I turned and watched as a set of pegasi were showing off their bloody zebra trinkets as trophies, slowly flying overhead as I continued to look around for my friends. I felt like I was wandering the camp aimlessly, watching as sets of soldiers were already singing drunkenly and passing out on the dirt. I glanced as a few of the soldiers were inspecting the enchanted guns they managed to pull off some zebras, a couple others next to them were repeatedly testing their newly issued power hooves against a now mangled striped corpse.

I turned again as I smelled something foul behind me, clamping my eyes shut and throwing up as I looked upon a zebra spit roast being served to the celebrating ponies. That same feeling I had with the surrendering zebra welled up, my stomach heaving and spilling whatever gruel I had been fed while I was out onto the ground. I stumbled through the camp in a haze as I continued my search, now worried that I couldn't find where our tent had been, it was just... gone. Hammer or Rose must have seen me by now, if there was no tent, then they had to be wandering around out here. I found the lieutenant in the command tent with a few other soldiers, showing off the bloody pelt of a Zebra he had fashioned into a crude cape.

"Ah! You are the mute demolitions technician injured a few days ago. Good to see you up and about, soldier, I've been looking forward to approving your release. You'll be happy to know you are heading home in the morning." His voice was calm and relaxed. I picked up a notepad and pen off his desk with my levitation and started writing, I wasn't going to leave without seeing the others. I turned the pad to him and watched as he read it aloud slowly.

"'Where are my friends?'" He cocked an eyebrow and rubbed his chin with a hoof. "Well, your mare friend with the great right hook was sent off this morning to be court martialed for assaulting me the other day." He said with a slight smile, rubbing his chin softly. I let out a sigh as I knew it had been coming, and I should have guessed that's why I couldn't find her.

"Let's see, yesterday that sniper killed the other mare in your group... what was her call sign?" He said with a light sigh. "She was so young, she should have known to keep her head down. I didn't even get a chance to thank her for killing the zebra outside my tent the other night, such a shame."

No, Rose can't be dead. He was lying, she has to still be alive. She is getting married when she gets back. Please Celestia, don't let this be true, she didn't deserve this! I felt an overwhelming sadness unlike anything before, tears welling in my eyes as the lieutenant took another drink from his flask.


"After she was killed, I sent your rookie off to another unit who needed him. Command has reassured me that a new squad is being sent and that you are to be relieved tomorrow morning. Now if you'll excuse me..." He said with a dismissive wave of his hoof, turning to go back to his conversation with a smile.

For the last five years, I had been told that the zebras were the monsters, that we were the good guys. How could I have been so blind? The rage was all consuming, twisting inside me powerfully as I stood among the gruesome parade of mutilated corpses, watching as ponies joyously trampled and literally pissed on an enemy who didn't deserve this level of barbarism. My levitation snapped the ornate revolver out of the lieutenant's holster and pressed it against the side of his head. I pulled the trigger quickly, emptying the cylinder into him as his skull all but exploded into bits of blood, brains, and bone.

---

Now I sit as the monsters of camp 223 try to cut their way inside, seeking to defile me as they had done to so many others. My body was numb from blood loss, the lucky shot one of the soldiers got off as I shut the heavy steel door on my way in here threatened to undo me. Just as I was before the war, I felt nothing. No anger, no jealousy, no sadness nor happiness. Just the hollow emptiness that had always been in my life. From the back of my mind, I prayed for Celestia to guide the souls of my friends to the afterlife as my levitation dropped the remote detonator to the floor again with a clatter.

As the last pin fell out of the door and the heavy metal slab fell forward onto the ground, I reached out with my horn to grip the device. A few soldiers trained their rifles on me through the doorway as I thought about how fate might have played out for us had the war not started. Would Digger have become a stallion of many more mares? Would Rose have been happily married, living a dream life in Canterlot? Would Hammer have finally built that farm she had dreamed of since fillyhood?

What about me? Would I have just continued my life in peace, never knowing friendship, never knowing the feeling of a crush, or having my heart broken? Was I really a better pony for having experienced it the way I did? I could feel my heart slowing as it got immensely hard to keep my eyes open, my lungs struggling to draw breath as I pressed the tiny red button as hard as I could.

For the monsters of camp 223, the ones who lived would always remember tonight as the time a small, mute pony finally found his voice.