• Published 9th Mar 2012
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Fallout Equestria: Morality of Property - Sir Leadhead



A slaver learns some harsh lessons in the Equestrian Wasteland.

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Chapter 13 > In which there is a chill

Chapter 13 > In which there is a chill

"Then come the wild weather, come sleet or come snow, we will stand by each other, however it blow."

“Stop right there!” a guardspony at the gate Tilled had driven up to shouted. He was covered hoof to eartips in wrappings and clothes, wearing a pair of ski goggles similar to my own. He had a rifle slung into a battle saddle, and was obviously ready to use it should the need arise. “Please step out of the vehicle and declare your intent within the city of Auction House!”

“Alright Tilled, this is where we need to get off, you included.” I said.

Tilled Earth grimaced. “I don’t like leaving the ol’ girl behind, but if it’s what I have to do… I’ll park ‘er off to the side.” The old earth pony stopped the large transport at the side of the road in front of the gate, the rumble of the engine dying out as he removed something from the controls in front of him. It looked like a key of some sort.

We all got off the Earther, and stepped up to the guard, whose expression was hidden behind his goggles and a scarf. “State your business.” he repeated, sounding a little more relaxed now that we were down on his level.

“I’m Coin Slot, a slaver who works with the city.” I introduced myself. “These ponies are my slaves, except for him. He’s a customer visiting the city for the first time.” I pointed at Tilled Earth, who gave a polite bow to the guard.

“I see… who owns the vehicle?” the guard asked, getting out a small clipboard and pencil. “And have you explained the rules of the city to him?”

“The Earther is mine, and yes, she did an exemplary job tellin’ me what this here place is all about.” Tilled said, stepping forward.

“Alright… here’s your receipt.” The guard said, giving him a piece of paper that he had just finished writing on. “Keep it and track all your purchases on it, then show it to me or another guard when you leave, and things will be nice and smooth.”

“Thank ya kindly.” Tilled Earth said, then shivered. “Geeze, it’s cold out here, let’s hurry and find some warmth, how’s that sound to y’all?”

“Sounds good to me, we can probably find a place to rent out or something for our stay here.” I said, nodding to the guard as he opened the gate for us, letting us into the city proper.

I took a look around. Things had changed since I was last here. There were more solidly built buildings and less shacks and tents, and the streets looked cleaner, though that might have been the blanket of snow that was covering everything. There were maybe two or three other ponies wandering around, wearing thick clothing and obviously out on important business… I guessed that anypony who didn’t have a reason to be outside was staying in out of the cold.

“Wow. Biggest city I’ve been to in… like… ever.” Matchstick said, a sizzling sound constantly coming from the area around her as she melted a crater into the snow around her. She was wide-eyed, looking at the two and three story buildings that lined the streets here like they were old-world skyscrapers. The fact that these buildings were made out of rubble, spare parts and whatever the architects could get their hooves on was of no consequence. Each one was unique and told a story about how the city was built. There were even a few true-blue wooden buildings made out of planks and logs… scavengers must have run into a source of lumber at some point. “Besides the old ruined ones, I mean.” Matchstick clarified.

I looked back at her, everypony had gotten closer to the flaming mare, probably subconsciously seeking warmth. Because of this, we were all crowded in a small area… and we really needed to get moving and find a place to set up shop. “Alright, first order of business is to find somewhere to stay for the night.” I said. “Then I’d like to see what the markets are selling, and see if we can offer something that isn't already being provided by somepony, or if it is, something we can do better.”

“Heh, focused on caps much?” Shimmercoat said, grinning.

“Well, caps make the world go round.” I replied, grinning back. “But actually, I want to get out of this cold. Let’s head over to the market area and see if anypony has rooms for rent.”

“I could use directions to the marketplace too, so I’ll follow ya’ll.” Tilled said. I nodded, and started making my way through the snow towards the area of the city where ponies sold everything from food to ammo to slaves. The snow was cold against my legs, and I wasn’t feeling so good all of the sudden. It felt like I was starting to get a headache… which is always just peachy.

We passed by a pair of ponies on our way to the market. They were dressed like us for the most part, in other words they also were not prepared for the unseasonably cold weather. They also looked pretty irritable. One of them stumbled on something under the snow.

“Hey, watch where you’re putting your tail! I almost tripped on it!” he practically shouted at the mare walking next to him.

“Huh? How is that my fault? Watch where you put your hooves! My tail isn’t even long enough to reach the ground, what are you going on about?” she retorted, her voice nasally and mildly annoying to listen to.

“Nothing’s ever your fault, is it?! What about that time you gave us away to that swarm of robots, hmm? I wouldn’t be surprised if your stupid fucking ass did it on purpose!” the stallion said, getting in the mare’s face. She looked mortified by that comment. We had stopped, as they were causing quite a commotion, and I was wondering if I should intervene. It was none of my business, though, so I kept my mouth shut and just watched.

“T-that’s… how dare you! Riddles was killed by those robots!” she shouted back, tears forming in her eyes.

“Maybe that was the whole idea! Awful convenient for your gun to ‘misfire’ when we were sneaking past them and Riddles was right in their line of sight!”

“RIDDILES WAS MY… HOW DARE YOU!!” the mare screamed, tackling the stallion, her expression pained and enraged at what he was implying.

The two of them started to fight, throwing punches and kicks, biting each other’s ears… it looked like they were trying to kill each other.

“Shimmercoat, go break that up.” I ordered. “I don’t know what’s gotten into those ponies, but they’re breaking the rules right now.” I frowned. My headache was starting to get worse, and there weren’t any guards around to keep fights like this from happening. There usually would be… but the weird weather was keeping the guards in their guardshacks.

“I’ll help ya, sonny.” Tilled Fields said, and the two stallions approached the big ball of violence in the middle of the snowy street. “Hey there! Break it up, you two!” he shouted.

The fighting ponies ignored the old stallion, right up until Shimmercoat grabbed the stallion and Tilled pulled the mare off of him, she almost bit his ear off while he was doing so.

“Hey!” the stallion said, struggling against Shimmercoat’s grip. “What’s the big idea?”

“Get off me!” the mare shouted at Tilled. He let go, and she dusted herself off, snorting angrily. “You ponies should mind your own business!”

“Just trying to keep the peace, ma’am.” Tilled said. “Why don’t you two go take a walk and cool your heels.”

Shimmercoat let go of the stallion as well. They both trotted off in opposite directions, still clearly pissed off at each other, but not willing to confront strangers over whatever it was they were fighting over. “That was strange…” I said.

“How so?” Crescent asked.

“Well, usually the market is packed full of ponies, first of all.” I said, looking around. Lights were on in the heavy canvass tents and small tin shacks that made up most of the market sector of Auction House, but doors and tent flaps were closed, to keep the heat in. Nopony was really open for business, and there weren’t any customers wandering around in the snow either. “And secondly, those ponies sounded like they had been traveling together from what we overheard. I dunno…”

“Hey, sometimes traveling partners fight, you and I should know that.” Shimmercoat said, walking back over with Tilled, his breath causing his glasses to fog over. He frowned and took them off to wipe on his coat.

“Well, tension is the norm for slaves and slavers, not the exception. Though they could have been a slave and master… again, that whole thing just sounded weird to me. Whatever, not our concern.” I said, not wanting to give too much thought to the plights of strangers, though I felt mildly ticked that they had broken the rules by fighting within the bounds of Auction House. “Lets find someplace to get out of the cold and work out our next move.”

“Agreed, Sergeant!” MG-MS11 said loudly, like he says everything. “What about that big building over there, that looks like it would be ample shelter for our squad from these low temperatures! We need to get everypony in the warm before hypothermia sets in! One of us already has what appears to be a terminal and chronic fever, though I still think my sensors must be on the fritz for her!”

“Har dee har har.” Matchstick said. “I’m actually feeling the cold too, by the way. My fire doesn’t exactly keep me warm and cozy, though I doubt I could actually have hypothermia.”

“Well…” I said, looking at everypony. We weren’t dressed for this, everypony was shivering and standing close to Matchstick, who was looking more and more pissed off by the second. “That big building won’t work for shelter, because that’s the auction house, where the Head Auctioneers meet and where the big auctions take place. Only the Head Auctioneers and their families live there.” I referred to the old courthouse that MG-MS11 pointed out.

“Didn’t you say that we might be able to find somepony renting rooms around here?” Tilled Earth asked. He was putting on an act, I realized. The old pony sounded just fine, but his legs were shaking and his lips turning an unhealthy shade of blue. The cold was really getting to him, whether he was letting it show or not.

“Theoretically… I hope they aren’t all full.” I said. There was one inn I knew about, the one I stayed at when I had first come to Auction House as a filly… that was a long time ago, though. Hopefully it hasn’t turned into something else since I last stayed there.

“Some new memories are bubbling to the surface of thy brain.” Mezzer said. “I would like to review them at some point, if that is alright with thou.”

“Thanks for asking, but now isn’t the time. Maybe later.” I told him. At least he was learning to ask before poking around my head. Finally. “Come on, everypony, there’s an inn this way, I think…” I said, and headed for the end of the street that was lined with tents that normally sold farm fresh veggies.

“I don’t like this place, one wrong step and all these tents go up in smoke.” Matchstick said, looking nervously around and sticking to the center of the street.

I hadn’t thought of that. “Um, yeah… be careful.” I said.

“No shit.” she replied, rolling her eyes. I frowned at the cursing. At some point I would need to teach the flaming mare that good fillies don’t curse, though now wasn’t exactly a teachable moment.

We made our way through the snow to the end of the street, where there was a large pre-war structure that looked like it used to be a gift shop, though the only letters remaining on the sign were a big capital ‘G’ and ‘S.’ “This is Gees.” I said. “Let’s hope she remembers me…” I opened the door, a bell ringing as I did so.

“Hurry, hurry! Fucking get in before you let the fucking warm out!” An old mare’s voice called out from inside. That foul mouth could only be the Gee I remember, and I smiled in spite of my own personal views on cursing.

“Everyone get inside.” I said, holding the door as we piled into the entranceway. The building used to be a gift shop, but it had been converted into an inn, with rooms on both the fist and second stories built into it using corrugated tin sheets, planks of old siding, and whatever Gee could find at the time. It made the place feel cramped, though it was actually rather large, all of us could fit in the ‘lobby’ comfortably. Gee herself was behind the front counter, wrapped in a blanket and glaring at me until I shut the door. She was an old mare, probably even older than Tilled Earth. She was missing all her teeth, had a mane as white as the snow outside, one eye that remained perpetually shut, and warts dotting her face, some of them new since I had last seen her. Her coat was faded, though if I had to guess, I would say that it used to be bright yellow. Now it just kind of looked like urine, to be blunt, though I would never say such a thing to her face. “Hey Gee… remember me? Coin Slot?” I said, approaching the counter and smiling as disarmingly as I could.

“Coin? Yes I want some coin! Or caps more-like if you want to fucking stay here!” she said, slightly louder than what was necessary. “Wait, is that…” she squinted at me more, and I got a distinct chill up my spine as she examined me. Gee had always creeped me out a little. “You’re that little filly wat sold me those twins back in the day! How the fuck are you?”

“Um, yeah, that’s me.” I said, remembering the slaves she was talking about. They had been amongst my first sales after I had been… on my own. More importantly, I was glad that Gee remembered me. Her memory hadn’t been all that great when I was little, who knows how it was acting now. “I’m doing fine, thanks. Gee, we’re going to need a couple of rooms. This is Shimmercoat, Crescent Wrench…” I introduced everypony and Gee gave her glare at all of them in turn, not even batting her eye at Hiss or MG-MS11. When I got to Matchstick, however, she held up her hoof.

“She’s not going to set the fucking building on fire, is she?” Gee asked. Matchstick looked down at her hooves, then back up at the old mare, an angry spark in her eyes.

“Listen here, you old biddy…” Matchstick started.

“Now now, let’s not toss insults around…” I interjected. Gee hated comments on her age, and her nostrils were already flaring as she prepared a snipe back at Matchstick.

“Old! Who you calling old? I ain’t old! You’re a fucking walkin’ flamer, you ain’t got no fucking right to treat you’re elders that way!” Gee said ignoring me and demonstrating that she was a hypocrite in the same sentence. I facehoofed in exasperation. Things were not going my way.

“The fuck did you just say?” Matchstick stepped up, her mane flaring up and heat emanating from her more than usual as she glared down the old biddy. I decided enough was enough.

“Matchstick, go wait outside.” I ordered. She looked back at me, surprised.

“You serious?! But she just…”

“Outside. Now. That’s an order.” I repeated, pointing towards the door. Matchstick snorted, small flames shooting from her nostrils as she stomped towards the door, leaving behind sooty footprints and slamming the door behind her. “Sorry about her, she… has a fiery temper.” I said to Gee with another disarming smile. I seemed to recall that she liked puns. Shimmercoat was glaring at me, and I was sure we’d have a talk later, but for now I needed to secure us some shelter, which was proving to be a lot more difficult than I had thought.

“Fiery, heh, that’s fucking great.” Gee cackled, her toothless mouth opening up in what might have been a grin. “So, rooms you say? Sorry, but we’re fucking full. No fucking vacancy.” Her voice creaked as she gave me the news I was dreading.

“No rooms at all?” Crescent asked, frowning and attempting to look cute. Too bad that strategy would never work on a mare like Gee, and I knew that from experience.

“Not unless that fucking tinderbox finds somewhere else to stay!” Gee replied, her perpetual glare causing Crescent to quail and hide behind MG-MS11. “I’ll not have her burn my fucking inn to the ground, she’d be the death of us all!”

“That’s not fair…” Shimmercoat started, stepping forward.

“Can I handle this?” I said, looking Shimmercoat right in the eyes. He frowned, and stepped back. Wow, I hadn’t expected that.

“I think he realizes that this mare requires careful bargaining with, and thou apparently hast experience with her.” Mezzer said. I nodded to him and turned back to the crotchety innkeeper.

“She can control her heat, to an extent, Gee.” I said. “Enough to sleep on a mattress, I’ve seen.” Sure, that mattress would be charred in the morning, but it wouldn’t burst into flame. I wasn’t going to mention that though, she’d take it the wrong way, and wouldn’t let her in because she would think that Matchstick would char her mattresses. Mezzer was right about how careful you had to be negotiating with Gee.

“She annoys me. And besides, I ain’t fucking lying, there ain’t no more fucking rooms left!” Gee said, spitting to the side. A small ‘ding’ sounded from her spittoon. “‘Cept for the common room, in the back. It’s empty right now, and it ain’t exactly clean, but if you stayed there, anypony else that came through would get to stay there too. And there ain’t any separate rooms, that’s all there fucking is. I’ll let you stay there Coin, cause I like you, but I’m fucking charging an annoyance fee for the fireball.” she said, squinting at me.

“That’s fine, we’ll take the common room. How much?” I asked.

“Fer all of ya? Five ‘undred caps.” Gee said, spitting again.

I balked. “Five hundered!?” I sputtered, and took a step back before regaining my composure. I had that much… barely. After that I would be scraping the bottom of the barrel. “Couldn’t you be a little more reasonable for an old friend, Gee?” I asked, stepping forward again and doing my best to look friendly.

From the look she was giving me though, it wasn’t working. “Ya want me to make it fucking six?”

“Five is… fine. We’ll make do.” I said, pulling out my cap pouch. I counted out all five hundred caps in front of the old bi… ddy, even though it pained me to do so. I was left with a distressingly floppy pouch when the ordeal was over…

“And you’re going to clean up the mess your fucking hotshot left behind.” Gee said, pointing to the sooty hoofprints on the floor. I really hoped they would come out, otherwise she would probably charge us more.

“That looks like its causing you physical pain, Coin.” Shimmercoat said as I put my cap pouch back in my bag. He was smiling unnecessarily.

“Just get Matchstick and let’s get to our room and figure out what we’re going to do next.” I groused.

We all headed to the back room on the first floor, the ‘common room.’ It used to be where most of the gift shop’s merchandise was on display, but now it was emptied out and had a few mattresses strewn here and there. It also had piles of trash in the corners, paper and food wrappers littering the floor, and I swear I saw something skitter into a hole in the wall as we walked in.

“I… don’t like her…” Crescent said as I set down my bags next to a mattress. I also took off my barding… or what was left of it. I really needed a new suit of armor too… the visions of more caps being spent nearly caused me to burst into tears.

“She’s a tough customer, that’s for sure.” Tilled Earth said. “And here’s my portion for the room, thanks for getting’ fer us, miss.” He took out his own cap pouch and counted me out fifty caps. “And some fer being such an excellent guide, I’m sure I’d be lost in this place without ya’ll, especially since there seems to be some weirdness goin’ on.” He hoofed me another thirty caps on top of that.

I honestly hadn’t even thought about the fact that Tilled wasn’t technically affiliated with me besides being with us. “Oh, but you gave us a ride here…” I said, not wanting to accept charity but at the same time keeping mindful that I had expenses that I needed to take care of. “… Thanks.”

“Not a problem.” Tilled said, tipping his hat and claiming a mattress for his own. “So what’s the plan of attack? There still sales going on with this weird weather?”

“I would think so, thought probably only in the auction house, at least for now.” I said. Matchstick and Shimmercoat walked in just then, and Matchstick didn’t look amused at all.

“Why’d you send me outside like that?!” Matchstick Flare nearly shouted at me. “I could have taken her easy!”

“Yeah, and we wouldn’t have a room to sleep in. Or would you like being stuck out in the cold? I could probably get some caps back if I told Gee you were sleeping outside tonight.” I snapped back.

“You wouldn’t dare…” Matchstick growled, lowering her head and glaring at me, looking like she wanted to charge me. Hiss growled back at her, his hackles rising. “Try it, dog!” She shouted, her mane flaring up.

“What makes you think that you could do something like that?” Shimmercoat was obviously on Matchstick’s side.

I used my magic to sweep the garbage into a corner before Matchstick set it on fire. “Because frankly, it would be a lot more convenient if we didn’t have a constant fire hazard nearby when I was trying to make a deal with the proprietor of this establishment. Not to mention that she pissed Gee off, so now I’m nearly out of caps! If Tilled hadn’t chipped in, we probably wouldn’t be eating tonight! And besides, Shimmercoat, you need to get through your thick skull that I’m your master, and I’m her master too, I can do whatever the heck I want if I choose too!” I was getting pissed, I had just spent nearly all my money, my slaves were being difficult, and I had too much going on and too much to watch after now. This is why I usually kept only one or two slaves at a time, and now I had three plus a dog and a robot! Four mouths to feed! Not including myself!! Didn’t they get that?!

“I thought we had an agreement…” Shimmercoat started, his brows furrowed and tone indicating that he was clearly pissed off at me.

“About who I could rent you to, which has nothing to do with anything that just happened!” I nearly shouted back, stepping forward and getting in the smug little bastard’s face.

“STOP FIGHTING!!” Crescent Wrench yelled at the top of her lungs. Silence hung in the air like fog, a chill draft suddenly picking up as the wind howled outside. “Why are you guys always fighting…” she started to cry, wiping tears away from her eyes.

“Now I can see ya’ll have your differences, and I’m not exactly in a position to judge anypony right now…” Tilled said as the silence hung heavy, none of the rest of us knowing what to say. “But we all got a room, and we’re gonna have ta live with each other fer the next few hours at least, if not days. Now our innkeeper may have set a few of us on edge, but that ain’t no reason to be at each other’s throats. I suggest we all settle down and unpack, make oursel’s comfortable like.” The old stallion hung his hat on his saddlebag and took off the outer layer of his barding.

Everypony started to follow suit, claiming a matteress and making themselves comfortable, getting out of the old, travel-worn clothes we were all wearing. Mine was not the only suit of armor that needed repair, Matchstick’s stovetop armor was needing quite a few patches and a few replacement stovetops, and both Crescent Wrenches and Shimmercoat’s jumpsuits were ripped in places and needed patching. We looked beat up and too tired to fight, to be honest. The only reason none of us had any injuries was because of MG-MS11, who hovered next to Crescent Wrench’s mattress. Even then the strange fatigue that the MEDI-Gun caused sometimes was affecting us all. Hiss curled up next to me and yawned, closing his eyes for a nap. I scratched his head while the awkward silence continued.

“I think that thou should apologize.” Mezzer said.

“For what? Everything I said is true!” I replied, frowning.

“Whether or not that is the case, and I’m not necessarily agreeing with thou on that one…” Mezzer said, and kept going before I could follow up. “Right now is not the time to fight with thy slaves. Everything has been pretty rough the past few days for everypony, thyself included. Everypony is on edge right now, and the cantankerous proprietor did not help manners in the slightest. Now that we are in a relatively safe place, all those emotions everypony was putting on hold are going to come up to the surface, and thou shouldst deal with them with patience and understanding.”

I realized that he was right. “How do you know all this?” I asked. How would a gun from the stars know about how to best handle stressful situations?

“It is something thy Pa taught thou when thou were small, when a group came to the casino and started to fight almost as soon as they stepped through the door, and yet seemed to be close friends for the remainder of their stay.” Mezzer replied.

“I… I remember that. You’re right…” I said. It seemed Mezzer knew my past better than I did… which was part of the reason why I was pissed at him for rooting through my memories, but he brought up a good point right now, so I decided to let this one slide.

“I’m sorry.” Both Matchstick and I said at the same time. Everypony perked up in surprise, us included.

“You first.” Matchstick said, her ears folded back and a light blush on her face, looking embarrassed.

“I’m sorry I snapped at you, I probably could have handled Gee a little better. Heh, I’m supposed to be good at bargaining, wasn’t really showing it then.” I said.

“Yeah… I should have just let you do the talking and not gotten all riled up when she started poking at my… condition.” Matchstick said, looking up at me and smiling.

“Why don’t we just put that all behind us, hm?”

“I’m okay with that. What about you, Shimmy?” Matchstick turned to Shimmercoat, who was on a mattress next to hers (which was charring. Hopefully we’d be gone before Gee noticed).

“That’s fine by me, I just want to have a chance to rest and get my horn working again.” Shimmercoat said, frowning at his brow.

“Alright, it’s settled then.” I said, smiling. “How about we all rest for a bit, and then Tilled and I will discuss on what we’re doing next.”

“Thank ya kindly.” Tilled said. “Dunno ‘bout you young folks, but I’m going to settle in for a nap.”

“Sounds like a good idea.” Shimmercoat replied.

“MG-MS11, wake us up if something happens.” I said, yawning. A nap was just what I needed.

“But I’m not tired!” Crescent Wrench said.

“Then don’t go to sleep. I’m not tired either.” Matchstick replied. “We could play a game while they snooze. Um…”

“Here. Try not to burn ‘em, but I don’t mind none if they end up a little singed.” Tilled Earth said, tossing a pack of cards to Matchstick.

“Thanks.” I said as Crescent scooted closer to the flaming mare, who was quickly and carefully dealing cards in a way that suggested she had done this before without burning the cards in question. There would be a lot to take care of soon, first and foremost finding some food, then new armor for everypony, perhaps some weapon upgrades or ammo if they were available, and most importantly, a way to make some more caps. Basic survival stuff of the wastes. But for now, sleep was what I needed, and my eyes fluttered closed as the wind howled outside, sounding like a lonely wolf in the distance.

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

I gazed up in awe at the gates of Auction House. I had traveled a long way since… since I lived at the Big 52. I had hitched passage with a caravan headed out towards where Mr. Opportunity said his friends were, but before they had gotten to wherever it was that they needed to go, raiders had ambushed killed them. I managed to hide until they had passed by… but that was scary. I persevered though, putting to use all the skills that my dear ol’ Ma and Pa had taught me, and I got by by myself for a while. I probably wouldn’t have made it though, if I hadn’t run into Mr. Opportunities friends a few days later. They said they had recognized me from Mr. O’s description, and the goggles he had given me, and they gave me some food and water and let me travel with them for a while. Now we were at Auction House, and I was going to be officially registered as a slaver!

“Alright, Coin. Get up here.” said Hork Hook, the leader of our little slaving caravan. He was missing his front right leg, and had instead a cybernetic leg in its place. The rest of him was orange and as scarred as Mr. O had been, and had been the one who found me when I was wandering around alone. I don’t remember much about that time… except for the fact that I had been as sad as I had ever been in my entire life… but now Mr. O’s friends were taking care of me, just like he had said! I trotted up to him, and he lifted me up and put me on the little counter the guard shack for this gate had. “This here is Coin Slot, our… newest member.”

“You recruited a filly?” the guard, who was wearing an old motorcycle helmet so I couldn’t see his face, asked.

“It was… a favor for a friend of ours, otherwise she would be with the rest of them.” Hork gestured to the caged cart we had our slaves in. Apparently without Mr. Opportunities recommendation, I would have been enslaved too. I didn’t quite know how I felt about that, but Hork said not to worry about it, and my dear ol’ Ma said not to question those who were doing us favors, so I decided that it was okay.

“Whatever you say, pal.” the guard replied. “Her name was Coin Slot, you said?”

“Yep.”

“Alright, I’ll get the registration up to the big house at the end of the day. She can buy and sell here all she likes, and the slaver laws apply to her for the duration of her stay. I’ll leave it up to you to explain to her how things work here.”

“Thanks very much, very much.” Hork Hook said. He sometimes repeated himself. You got used to it if you talked to him for any amount of time. He lifted me down and told me to follow him, and we walked through the open gates of Auction House.

The inside was packed. I could see ponies standing in front of big canvass tents and lean-tos, full of everything from food to weapons to armor, with the ponies shouting to get the crowd’s attention, all of them selling the things in the tents to whoever would by them. Ma would love this place, I was sure. “Do you think they sell Twinkie Pinkie’s here?” I asked Hork.

“You might want to go try some scavenger stands, they sometimes have pre-war snacks.” Hork replied. “Look, my associates and I gotta offload this meat, do you think you could look after yourself for a while? Here are some caps. Go take a look around and meet me back at this gate at sundown. Sundown.”

“O… okay!” I said, barely containing my smile. I got to go and have fun by myself! I could explore all I wanted! I’ve never gotten to do things like this before… I’ve never gotten to shop, or find things on my own, or anything like that! Thanking Hork, I ran off for the nearest stand that looked like it sold food. I was hungry.

“HURRY UP, YOU PONIES, AND COME ‘ROUND FOR A FLASH AUCTION! WE GOT SOME SPECIAL GOODS HERE, AND YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS YOUR CHANCE!!” Shouted a mare with a top hat standing in front of a large tent full of ponies that were chained to each other by their legs. I stopped, I was right in front of the tent, and ponies started to crowd all around me, I couldn’t get around them.

“Alright, we got four slaves up for auction today, with special discounts to those who look at my wares afterwards!” the mare, who I noticed also had a really big smile with a gold tooth in it, shouted to the gathered crowd. She was pretty, she reminded me of Lucky Star. I frowned, being reminded of the casino always made me feel like I was being torn up on the inside…

“First up we got a strong young stallion all the way from Stalliongrad! Broadest back I ever did see, he’s a draft horse through and through. If you got heavy lifting needing doing, then you look no further then this auction today! He unfortunately doesn’t speak much in the way of common Equestrian, though he’ll understand simple commands, so we’ll start the biding at the ridiculously low price of two hundred caps!” the mare shouted. Ponies started raising their hooves, talking excitedly when an absolutely massive stallion was pulled out of the line of ponies in the tent. He had a big moustache and eyebrows so heavy that they seemed to cover his eyes. His cutie mark was a sickle… was he good at farming? He just stood there, surveying the crowd in front of him like it was something new to him.

“I got five hundred caps! Can I get six?! Six! Sev… oh, wait, eight from the mare in the back row! Eight hundred caps going once! Eig… and we have nine from the gentlepony with the tie! Oh, that mare just raised it to one thousand!! One thousand caps! And another bid from Mr. Tie! Looks like we got a bidding war, ponies!” The mare selling these… slaves was shouting, and I was getting excited just watching her announce the totals the two ponies were bidding over this stallion. The crowd behind me was shoving and getting louder too, everypony seemed to be having a good time. I looked in my bag to see how many caps Hork had given me… maybe I could try this auction thing? It looked pretty fun.

“AAAAAAAAAAND SOLD! Sold to the mare in the back row for one thousand four hundred caps! Congratulations miss, please head to the back of the tent and don’t forget to pay the lady! Next we have a sexy young thing, perfect for the fine young stallions I see out in the crowd tonight! Maybe some of you could come by my tent later this evening?!” The mare smiled her big smile with the golden tooth and winked to the crowd. There were a few whistles and catcalls that I had sometimes heard directed at Lucky Star, but had never gotten explained to me. Maybe I could ask this mare later… “But if you buy this next slave, you won’t have too!” the mare continued. “Picked her up from the outskirts of Tenpony Tower, she’s educated and knows her way around computers, so she isn’t just another pretty face like me! We’ll start the bidding at two hundred caps again, and that’s a steal!”

The mare brought out from the tent for showing was indeed quite pretty looking. She almost looked like my Ma… but was different somehow. For starters, she was the wrong color, she was red with a golden colored mane, and my Ma was light blue with a pink and dark pink striped mane. But that was the obvious difference… the real difference was that she looked… broken. Her ears were drooping, she was looking at the ground, her tail was between her legs, and I thought I saw tears coming out of her eyes. Ma never cried, and never looked like this. She was strong, independent, and able to take on any challenge. This mare looked like she would even flee from me if I yelled ‘boo’ at her.

Now that I thought about it, she didn’t look like dear ol’ Ma at all.

“Wow! Two thousand caps! I can’t believe it!” the mare giving the auction shouted. She was smiling so big that I could see that she also had a golden molar, bringing her number of gold teeth to two. “Two thousand caps going once! TWO THOUSAND CAPS GOING TWICE… LAST CHANCE PONIES!” she shouted, then paused for dramatic effect. I was nearly on the edge of my seat wondering if somepony would bid higher.

“SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD!! Congratulations to the young buck with the flower growing out of his head! Hey, might want to get that checked out, I think they make pills for that.” The gold-toothed mare winked. “Head to the back of the tent and you’ll get taken care of. Next we got a double deal, set of twins here, picked up outside of Hoofington! Outside, mind you, I didn’t get anywhere near that place. These two apparently came from there though, so you know they got combat skills! Again, starting bids at two hundred caps!” A pair of ponies was brought out, two stallions who looked exactly alike, except for different cutie marks. One had a rifle for a cutie mark, the other had a pistol. They also looked pretty young… I mean, not like they were adults. They were still older than me, but they looked like teenagers. They were both tan with brown manes, long necks, and slightly larger chins than normal.

“We got a bid for three hundred caps! C’mon ponies, this is a two for one deal, don’t slow down now!” the auctioneer mare shouted. Some of the crowd had dispersed, and it looked like ponies were for some reason losing interest. There were still plenty hanging around, but I had the feeling that they were just waiting to see the rest of the slaves in the tent when the auction was over. She did mention special discounts. “That’s the spirit, four hundred caps!”

I almost forgot! I wanted to try this auction thing too! I quickly counted through the caps I had as fast as I could, using my magic to pile them in piles of ten so I could keep track, but making sure I did this with as much secrecy as I could. Ma always told me to not show off if I have money, otherwise Bad Ponies would come and take it from me. By the time the bid got to six hundred caps, I had counted that I had around eight hundred total, give or take a few caps. I quickly jumped to my hooves, shouting “Six fifty!”

“Oh! Um… and we have a bid from the filly in the front row! Now I’ve seen it all, we have a bid for six fifty for the twins from a little filly! Does anypony want to challenge her?”

“Seven.” said a voice behind me. Shoot!

“Seven twenty five!” I countered, not wanting to be beaten, but we were rapidly approaching my limit…

“This filly wants ‘em bad, we got seven twenty five going once… seven twenty five going twice…” the auctioneer mare shouted. I was trembling with excitement… cmooooon…. Say it…. Say it!

“SOLD! To the filly in the front row, congratulations, you just picked up two new best friends! Head on back behind the tent, my associate will see the transaction through! That’s it for the auction today, folks, but come and look at what else is on the shelves, I got a big stock, slaves for every occasion, from bodyguards to farmers, technicians to more intimate services, Merry Mary has what you need!” said the mare, who apparently called herself Merry Mary. Ponies trotted around me to look at the slaves inside the tent, while I quickly grabbed my bag and headed around to the back where I had seen the other two auction winners go. I was so excited! I had just won my first auction at my first visit to Auction House! I couldn’t believe it! I was so happy I bounced up and down for a bit just to wear off some extra energy before continuing on.

Rounding the corner, I passed the big stallion that had been sold first, his new… owner, I guess, turned out to be a small pegasus mare. I was surprised, you didn’t see many pegasi down below the clouds… in fact, I was pretty sure that this was the third one I had seen in my whole life. The first one had been a Dashite who had come to the casino for a drink and some rest, and the second one was actually one of Hork’s companions traveling with us, who said he used to be in the Pegasus Enclave before deciding that there was more money to be made in the slave trade. His armor was made of bits and pieces of old power armor, so I believed him.

They were leaving, in any case, and so was the second slave and her new owner… who really did have a flower growing out of his head. Weird, but there were stranger things in the wasteland, if half of Hork’s stories around the campfire were true. I ducked around them and approached a bored looking mare sitting at a desk with a cap box on it and a receipt pad. Standing next to the desk were the two twins I had just purchased.

It was still kind of weird thinking of ponies like that, but Hork said that I would get used to it in time, and to pay that feeling no mind. Since I was on my own now, he said, I would need to make sure and watch out for myself. And Ma did say one day I would have to do that… so I tried to just think of them as goods, like my goggles or Hoof of Honor. Important things, things that needed to be taken care of, but just that. Hork used the term ‘meat’ and a few other slavers used stuff like ‘cargo’ or ‘bodies’ to refer to slaves, but I liked ‘goods.’ Hork said it didn’t matter, so long as it made sense to me. I’m glad Mr. Opportunity has such nice friends.

“Let’s see… seven hundred and twenty five caps, little lady?” the bored looking mare said in a nasally voice, adjusting her glasses and looking at a receipt she just wrote up.

“Yep! Here ya go!” I replied, counting out the caps in groups of ten (and one five).

“Congratulations, please come back to Merry Mary’s any time you require more slaves. Merry Mary’s, always serving up service at prime prices…” the mare said in that nasally monotone. I don’t think she really liked her job… “Anyways, here’s your detonators, pre-programmed with a leash of two hundred yards. Do you know how to work them?”

“Um…” I said as she gave me two weird looking devices with a few buttons and a small screen.

She sighed. “Here, lemme go over the basics, or you’ll blow their heads off by accident…” She explained to me how their bomb collars work, and how I could control them with the detonators. “Please tell me you have somepony you’re traveling with who could teach you more about them…” she said after a few minutes of explaining.

“Yeah, I do, his name is Hork Hook…” I said.

“Great! Now get out of here, kid, I’m on break.”

“Um, okay… c’mon, you two.” I said to the two twins, who had been standing there watching me, both of them smiling. They were wearing bomb collars, which were presumably linked to the detonators I now had in my saddlebags.

“Can you believe our luck, brother?” said the one with the pistol cutie mark.

“I know, but can it for now, we need to wait for a bit. Hey there, um, master. Or do you prefer mistress?” said the one with the rifle cutie mark.

“Um… master is fine.” I said, deciding on one. It didn’t really matter which one it was when you were a mare, Hork had told me. He said it was weird for a stallion to be called mistress though, not that it didn’t happen on occasion. “My name is Coin Slot! What’s you guy’s names?” I asked.

“We’re the Crush brothers. I’m Orange, and he’s Pineapple.” said Orange Crush, the one with the rifle. “We used to be initiates in the Hoofington Steel Rangers, so you can be sure we’re tough as nails!”

Wow! Steel Rangers! “That’s so cool!” I said. “Just wait ‘till I show you to Hork and the others, they’ll be so impressed! You guys hungry?” I still had seventy five caps, enough to get us something to eat.

“I could go for something to eat… um, if that’s alright with you, master.” Pineapple said.

“Alright! Let’s go find some pre-war food!” I said, wanting to treat myself. The Crush’s both made a face, but didn’t say anything. I looked around for a bit amongst the bustling market, my new slaves close behind me, and found a shack that was selling fried Cram over Insta-Mash grits, and it smelled delicious. “Let’s stop here.” I said.

“Cram? Really? That stuff is…oof!” Pineapple started, but stopped when his brother kicked him in the side, trying to be secret about it, but I noticed. “I mean, that’s great! Whatever you say, mistress, uh, master!”

“Wait here while I get us something.” I said, and went over to the shack. I bought the Cram over Insta-Mash grits that I smelt, and… what luck! I spotted on a shelf three Twinkie Pinkies! Quickly snatching them up, I made my purchase and exited the shack, making sure to thank the store’s owner.

On my way back, food in hoof, I was momentarily distracted by a commotion over near the end of the street, something with the remains of what looked like a vertibuck, when my ears perked up at Pineapple’s voice.

“We can totally just jump her you know. We could be out tonight!”

“Hold on a second, Pineapple, you never think things through.” This was Orange talking now. “We can’t escape when we’re in the middle of the slaver’s city, you dolt. She’s nice enough, and probably couldn’t hurt us even if she tried. She’s what, ten? It’s whomever she’s traveling with that I’m more concerned about. And we wouldn’t even make it past the gates if we were to jump her while we were here. No, what we do is we wait until we leave the city, however long that takes, and then jump her, steal the detonators, and make tracks for the Hoof. Hopefully we can meet up with some Rangers before her party catches up to us.”

“Sounds like a plan…oop! Here she comes, act natural.” Pineapple said, looking at me. I didn’t think they realized that I had heard every word.

My heart sank… suddenly I wasn’t very hungry. They wanted to… escape? I mean, I heard that most slaves wanted to escape during the first few weeks, but they got over it if you treated them right. And I had gotten these slaves from Mary, so they should be over that urge by now! I literally just got them and they were already plotting behind my back?! I just bought them food! I was going to take care of them! We were going to be friends… I wasn’t going to be alone anymore… I mean, Hork was nice enough, but he just didn’t get it sometimes…

“Um, is everything okay?” Orange asked, as he and Pineapple trotted up to me when they realized I wasn’t moving.

My eyes started to fill with tears… no, don’t cry… not in front of… traitors like them! I dropped the bag of food, and angrily shouted “So you don’t want me as a master, huh?! You… you’re going to jump me the first chance you get, is that the plan?! No, you’re gonna wait for the best moment, that makes sense! Never mind my feelings, never mind that I might just want somepony to be there for me, never mind… ANYTHING!!” I screamed.

The Crush’s looked taken aback. “She heard you, man.” Pineapple said. “You always talk too loud.”

Orange smacked him on the head “Shut up and let me do the talking. Hey, um… don’t listen to us, we were just…” he started, but I could tell he was just trying to cover up what he said.

“No! You guys aren’t what I’m looking for! I’m through with you!” I shouted, kicking at a rock in the street. “Who wants twin slaves? Former Steel Rangers, from the Hoofington area, as tough as they get!” I shouted into the street. Their eyes widened.

“No no, don’t sell us!” Pineapple said, waving his hooves.

“Why not? Because you’ll have a harder time escaping from somepony who’s not a kid?” I snarled.

“Well, yeah…”

“THAT’S IT!” I shouted, furious. Orange was facehoofing, but I didn’t care what they did at this point. I had half a mind to blow off their heads… but I had never killed anypony before… “Who wants ‘em? A bargain at one thousand caps!” Ponies were starting to stare at me, but nopony was taking my offer…

“I’ll take em for nine hundred. Could use a pair of fucking Steel Rangers, even if they do look like fucking bean poles.” said an old-sounding voice. I turned around. An old yellow mare was looking at me, sitting outside of a big building with a ‘G’ and an ‘S’ on it. “Mah name’s Gee, and I need a couple of young bucks to work at my inn. They won’t ever fucking leave the city.” she said, winking.

“Hear that? Good luck escaping! Sold!” I said, triumphant. The Crush twins groaned, but I ignored them as I hoofed over the detonators to Miss Gee and she gave me the caps.

“Alright, whippersnappers, get in here! And if I hear any fucking talk of escaping, you’ll feel the back of my hoof!” Gee said as the two twins, who now looked considerably less happy and nice. “If’n you ever need a place to stay, youngster, ya can always look here.” Gee said, smiling at me. She was missing most of her teeth.

“Yeah… thanks…” I said, getting my food and walking away. I had made a tidy profit, that was something Ma would be proud of at least…

I found somewhere to sit and eat, tears streaming down my cheeks. I missed Ma and Pa… I didn’t want to be alone…

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\

“Ma…” I awoke muttering to myself. I realized that a tear was actually running down my cheek, and quickly woke myself up after that, hoping nopony had seen or heard anything. “Darn it, Mezzer, what did I tell you?” I thought immediately at the sentient gun regretfully residing in my brain.

“Thou said that I could review a memory later. It was later.” Mezzer said.

“Remind me to be more literal with you.” I thought at him angrily, but wasn’t really in the mood to pick a fight… especially after all the fighting that had been taking place recently, both in real time and in my memories. I looked around. Everypony was awake, but they weren’t paying attention to me. It seemed Tilled had started up a poker game, using pieces of trash as the chips, so I was guessing the game was more for fun and not actually using any money. Surprisingly, it looked like Matchstick had the biggest stack of trash in front of her, but I couldn’t tell if she was winning. It depended on what denominations they were using for whatever piece of trash. Was a tin can worth more than a wrapper? “Hey guys.” I said, standing up. “Who’s winning? And how long has it been?”

“You have been unconscious for nearly a week and a half, sah!” MG-MS11 said. “I was nearly going to recommend transfer to the nearest MOP institute for long-term treatment, good to see you back on your hooves!”

“A week?!” I shouted in shock. Everypony looked at MG-MS11 in confusion.

“I jest, Sarge, Ha Ha Ha. Some good humor to perk up the low morale I’ve been detecting lately. It has been exactly three hours, thirty four minutes, and forty two seconds since you fell asleep, sah!” the robot saluted. “Everypony else woke up at least an hour ago, you must have been tired!”

“Crescent?” I said.

“Um, yes?” she snorted. Was she laughing? Did she actually think that was funny?

“Kill him please.” I said.

“What?!” Crescent looked horrified.

“Sarge! Commanding a civilian contractor to kill another soldier in your squad is a court martial offense!” MG-MS11 sounded shocked.

“Relax, Sergeant. It was, how did you put it? A jest. Merely a joke.”

“Oh, I see. Ha Ha. Good to see you in high spirits, sah!” MG-MS11 saluted again, following this statement with a little patriotic fanfare.

“First time I’ve ever seen a robot tell a joke. Or lie. Or anythin’ like that.” Tilled Earth said.

“Yeah, he’s special. So how’s the game?” I asked again.

“Surprisingly, Matchstick is winning.” Shimmercoat said.

Matchstick stuck her tongue out at him. “It’s cause I got mad skills at poker.”

“No, it’s because nopony can tell when you’re bluffing or being serious.” Shimmercoat rolled his eyes. “Being so random that you’re unpredictable isn’t a ‘skill.’”

“I bet the Ministry of Morale mare would disagree with you on that one, wot!” came a raspy voice from the door.

As one, we turned our heads to look at our new guest. Crescent Wrench screamed, and Shimmercoat lept to his hooves, reaching for his saddlebags.

“Stand down! Guy’s, it’s okay, relax. This one’s okay.” I said, even though the pony in front of us surprised me and made me a little nervous. His coat appeared to be green, and he had strands of yellow mane and tail still remaining here and there, but for the most part, the thing that stood out about him was that he was a ghoul. Non-feral, obviously, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to talk, much less rent a room. Shimmercoat and Crescent Wrench had never met a non-feral ghoul before, though, so I understood their reactions, though I hoped he did too. He had a large battle-saddle on, with what looked like a large-caliber machine gun mounted to it, and a weird generator thing mounted on the top of it as well. He was wearing a top hat and monocle, and from what I could tell, that was what his cutie mark was as well, though it was half rotted off. Another thing that was surprising was that he had wings. Half-rotted, bones-showing-in-places wings, but wings nonetheless. He was a pegasus ghoul. “Um, hi.” I said. “Sorry about those two, they’re Stable ponies, the only ghouls they’ve met are feral ones. My name is Coin Slot, what’s yours?”

“Ah, I was hoping that I hadn’t purchased a room filled with bigots, that’s a relief, wot!” the ghoul rasped in a weird accent, which didn't mix very well with the usual ghoulish death rattle. He took off his hat, revealing that the top of his head was as balding and rotten as the rest of him, and bowed. “The name is Notch, Top Notch, Monster Hunter Extraordinaire! And how do you all do this fine evening?”

“We’re pretty good, just resting before we decide what to do next…” I said. “That name sounds familiar…” I thought.

“That’s because he’s the son of Stable 11’s first Overmare!” Mezzer nearly shouted in my head. “The brother to a General Atomareics executive! He might have the answers I seek!”

“Cool your jets, alright?” I said to Mezzer, rubbing my forehead. “Though that is actually pretty interesting.” “Feel free to pull up a mattress.” I said, inviting him in.

“I say, that is the most interesting mane condition I have ever seen.” Top Notch said, pulling a spare mattress next to Matchstick. “Care to deal me in, wot?”

“Condition, yeah, that’s one thing to call it. Curse is another one.” Matchstick replied, though she smiled when she said it. She passed out the cards, dealing both me and Top Notch in. “This is just a game for fun, so grab some trash and prepare to lose it.” she said, winking.

“Alright, we can go a few more hands, but we need to do some things before sundown, so prep yourselves mentally to head out in a few.” I said.

“I’ve actually got some errands to run as well, I think I’ll accompany you lot, wot? The weather out there is something fierce.” Our ghoul guest said, picking up his cards.

“So… he’s an okay ghoul? I don’t understand…” Crescent Wrench came out from behind MG-MS11, where she had hid when Top Notch entered the room.

“Basically, young’n, some ghouls have the mental fortitude to not go insane when they become… that way.” Tilled Earth said, nodding to Top. “So what you’re lookin’ at here is a 200 some-odd year old pony with a minor skin condition. Nothin’ more sinister than that.”

“Brilliantly put!” Top Notch said. “If you need a history lesson, a ghoul is the best teacher out there!”

“Do… ghouls become feral eventually?” Shimmercoat asked. I facehoofed. They were taking every politically incorrect thing you could bring up around a non-feral ghoul and throwing it in his face. Luckily, he seemed to take it in stride, any other ghoul I’d met (not that I’d actually met all that many) would have taken serious offense to their behavior. I just hoped they had the good sense not to call him a zombie.

“That they do, lad, that they do. But all ponies die eventually, and that’s just a ghoul’s way of death, in my opinion. Until then I will live life to the fullest, and damn the consequences, wot! Full house!” he opened his hand, showing everypony that he had won the pot.

“Oh, wow, nice one.” Matchstick said.

“Hey, I’m the best at everything I do, it runs in the family.” Top Notch doffed his hat, winking through his monocle, which looked like it had melted into his face.

“His mother wasn’t the best Overmare, from the records thou saw…” Mezzer helpfully pointed out.

“I don’t think I’ll mention that. He’s got one heck of a big machine gun, and I don’t want to see how it works up close.” I said to him. “Well…” I said out loud. “I think the first thing we should do is take stock of what we have, and work out where to go from there. We need to make a list of priorities to take care of while we’re in town."

“Capital idea, Sarge!” MG-MS11 said. “A squad must always keep track of their supplies so they know what to report to the logistics officers for support! On that note, my order of cybernetic limbs is behind delivery by 212 years! So the first logistics officer we see is going to get a severe tongue lashing from me, mark my words!”

“Right, I’ll be sure to keep that in mind…” I said, emptying out my saddlebags and taking a look at what I had. Sure, I could use my Pipbuck, but I preferred to take stock the old fashioned way in this situation, when I could take my time about it. Everypony else was doing much the same, except Crescent and Shimmercoat, who were using their Pipbucks, but that made sense considering they were raised with the things. Once I got an idea of what we had, I could work out a list of what we needed, and see if Auction House had anything to offer. Hopefully I could get some more caps and get what we needed before sundown… hopefully. Otherwise, I’d have to scrounge up the caps for another day at Gee’s, and I don’t think my cap pouch could take that.

Level up! (Lv. 14)

New Perk: Pathfinder: You've finally made it to Auction House! Your trek through the wastes has given you insight on how to get to where you need to go faster, and you can now find shelter in the most unlikely of places. Effectively boosts your Outdoorspony skill by 25 when looking for roads, paths, or a place to crash for the night, and increases your overland speed by 10%

Authors Note: So this is awkward... I've got to apologize for not updating for so long. Things have been busy, in no particular order I graduated college, got a job that I don't like but pays the bills, am now currently renting my own place instead of living with my dad, got a girlfriend, and have embarked basically on a new chapter in life! It's exciting and terrifying at the same time, but a big step in the right direction, I think. In any case, I am very sorry for the long delay, and hopefully it won't be another year for chapter 14 to come out ;) Things have been smoothing out though, and getting more and more into a daily routine, which means I can hopefully manage my time better. Maybe.

Also, one of the comments gave me an idea. I'm thinking about setting up a Paetron account. If it gets high enough, then I could take a day or two off of my day job and use the time to write without losing out on that precious rent money. I'll work out the details soon, but ya'll can expect a blog post about it and incessant adverts in my authors notes once I set it up! Feedback on whether this is a good idea or not is appreciated, go ahead and drop me a PM if you have thoughts or questions on the matter. If however you want to donate to the cause before I get that going, my paypal is slinkyjeff@hotmail.com. Any and all donations are appreciated more than you know, especially now that I have a landlord and everything that adults have to worry about homeowning (or homerenting). Why were we in such a hurry to grow up as kids? ;)

In any case, I also make plushies, and if you want to commission one, feel free to email me about it at the same address! I love you all and thank you for sticking with me despite the delays.

HUGE thanks to Kkat for writing Fallout: Equestria and giving us sidefic writers a great big sandbox to play in. Also thanks to Shimmercoat for help editing and proofreading this slog to make it something enjoyable. And thanks to all who hang out at the Sidefic Compilation doc for providing feedback and inspiration to write my own story. Also thanks to Bethesda and Hasbro for two great franchises. Hope you enjoy!