• 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 5 > In which there is much lying down

Chapter 5 > In which there is much lying down
“Thou Shalt Not Kill.”

We spent another night inside the cave outside Stable 11 before moving on. Shimmercoat grumbled with muted anger at being enslaved and forced out of his Stable. Crescent Wrench was still out for the count, but after administering the antivenom from my packs that I had left in the cave before my unexpected adventure in the Stable, her fever broke and she was on the mend. Despite her young age and small size, Crescent was surprisingly tough. The amount of poison that Hiss had dumped in her would have dissolved most ponies in ten seconds flat, but all it did to her was give her a high fever and the shakes. These went away almost as soon as the antivenom was given to her. I wondered what could be in the beige earth pony’s genes to make her so resistant to nightstalker venom. We had laid her to rest by the fire that I had rekindled in short order.

I also finally got a meal from those radscorpion steaks that I hadn’t had a chance to eat before. Luckily for Crescent and I, nopony had ventured into the cave and taken my things. Shimmercoat balked at the idea of eating meat, but I was fine with that. More for me. Hiss, on the other hoof, had no problem at all, and was eager to share with me. I was munching on my steak and working on the security barding I had gained, combining it with my old leather barding so it didn’t look like fresh Stable-wear. Didn’t want ponies thinking I was some sort of new-to-the-wastes Stable pony like Shimmercoat or Crescent. Now my barding was not only thick leather padding like I was used to, but it incorporated some of the ceramic plates the Stable security barding had for extra protection around the barrel and stomach. It looked like regular leather barding with blue-and-yellow trim. I got rid of the big yellow ‘Security’ letters (not my thing), but kept the ’11.’ I don’t know why, I just liked them. They reminded me of a regular customer in our casino when I was a filly who always gave me Dandy Colt Apples when he was on a winning streak, and said I was his lucky charm. He had worn Stable 73 barding, and the big yellow numbers left an impression on me. I dunno if he was actually a Stable pony or not though.

Barding fixed, I put it on and looked to Shimmercoat. “What do you think?” I asked.

Shimmercoat, who had been fixedly gazing at the fire, gave me a look that would have curdled milk. “Looks like leather. You make it from the skin of ponies?” he asked derisively.

“Heck no. I’m no Reaper. And I didn’t actually tan the leather myself, though I’ve fixed it often enough.” I replied.

“Reapers?” Shimmercoat asked, grudging curiosity in his tone. He was probably still sore about the whole ‘being forced to leave his Stable’ thing, but it seemed that it didn’t mean he couldn’t hold a conversation.

“A super-tough gang of raiders that make their home in Hoofington. Luckily for us, they don’t trek out this far into the metro area of Equestria very often.” I explained.

“A ‘super-tough’ gang? Sounds eloquent. Do they call themselves that, or was that feat of speech-craft just you?” Shimmercoat said, smiling slightly.

I was glad to see that he was still capable of smiling, if only because he had a great looking smile. I had the distinct feeling he was making fun of me though. “Either or; if you meet one, I suggest you run the other way, they would have a lot of fun with your pretty face.” I snapped back.

“You gonna take this off of me?” Shimmercoat hoofed at the collar around his neck again.

“Stop messing with that. And no.” I said. “It’s my insurance against you stabbing me in the back. I could just kill you, but you’re worth too much to me to do that.”

“I didn’t know you cared.” Shimmercoat said sarcastically.

“Not that way, moron. You’re easy on the eyes, but the whole ‘wanting to murder me to power a Stable’ thing just kills it for me.” I said. “You’re worth a ton of caps on the market, though, precisely because you’re easy on the eyes. In fact, I’m sure you’re worth more as a rental than a one-time purchase, so you’ll be sticking with me for a while.”

Shimmercoat now gave me a confused look. “Caps? Rental? What in Equestria are you talking about?”

Stable ponies. This was why I didn’t want to be mistaken as one. “Alright, time for a reality check, Overstallion.” I said, saying Shimmercoat’s former rank with a mocking tone. “You’re in the Equestrian Wasteland now. There are different rules out here than those in your safe, cozy, crazy little Stable. Ponies struggle to survive out here, and some aren’t capable of taking care of themselves. Example A.” I pointed at Crescent Wrench. “And example B.” I pointed at Shimmercoat. “You two are Stable ponies, and know nothing about surviving out there.” I pointed towards the ladder leading to the outside of the cave. “If you even want a hope of surviving, you need me to guide you. But nothing’s free in the wastes. That’s a lesson that was taught to me by my dear ol’ Ma, and she was never wrong.”

“That still doesn't answer my question.” Shimmercoat said dully.

“I was getting there!” I snapped at him. Geesh, what an impatient pony. “Caps…” I pulled one out from my bag. “Are currency in the wastes. The larger water caravan companies out here back them, so they are basically clean water, which is life. So, therefore, caps are life. Quid pro quo.”

“Your zebra is terrible.” Shimmercoat said, a look of disbelief on his face.

“Good thing I’m not a zebra then.” I retorted. “Anyways, as I was saying, you’re worth a lot of caps to me as my slave. I’ll rent out your services to other ponies that want you, and collect the caps. Easy money, easy survival.”

Shimmercoat seemed to process this for a little while, then his eyes widened. “Wait… Slave?”

“Yes. You’re my slave. Another name for that collar is a ‘slave collar.’ You are considered to be my property for as long as you wear it. I suggest getting over it quick, extensive fretting annoys me, and I tend to get into a ‘slave breaking’ mood when I’m annoyed.” I was giving him my ‘new slave’ speech, and being extra tough. Since he had been in a position of authority his whole life, I figured that he would be hard to break, so I wasn’t pulling my punches.

“You… you sell ponies? As chattel?” Shimmercoat just seemed shocked, not angry. It was… weird. Did he not know what a slaver was?

“Yes. I’m a slaver. It’s a job.” I said, slowly.

The color drained from Shimmercoat’s face. “I’d heard of slavers before from one of the sacrifices, but… but I didn’t know that he was actually serious! I thought he was just trying to scare me! You sell ponies?” he repeated.

I stretched. This cave was warm and comfy with the fire going. “Rent, in your case. I won’t let you go too easily, you’re too good looking. Good looking slaves are a valuable commodity, especially in the seedier villages where there’s two dozen ponies living there and half a dozen teeth between them all. But yes. I have sold and do sell ponies as my vocation.” I said. Hiss rubbed up against my leg, and looked up at me with pitiful-looking eyes. He probably wanted more meat, but we were all out. I patted his head, scratching my hoof between his eye-ridges.

Shimmercoat hesitated for a second, a look of disgust slowly forming on his face. “Good looki… AUGH!!” Shimmercoat shouted. It looked like he had finally put two and two together. He stood to his hooves, his spectacles askew and a panicked look on his face. “You are not going to… to… rent me to ponies to be used in such a manner! I demand you release me at once! Stop laughing!”

I held my stomach and tried to reign in my laughter. “Oh… oh great twigs and paper, that’s a good one. I haven’t heard that line in a long time. Pfffft… demand… oh that’s rich!” I said, bursting into fresh peals of laughter.

A blue bubble shimmered around me and lifted me up to the ceiling, fast. I slammed into the rocky ceiling completely unprepared. Luckily, the extra padding that my newly repaired barding had absorbed the worst of the blow, but it still hurt like a corncob. Gravel and loose rock popped free and rained down from the impact. Just as soon as I had slammed into the ceiling, though, the bubble disappeared, and I heard somepony screaming as I fell back to the ground flat on my stomach with a stinging thud. Shaking the stars from my vision, I looked angrily at Shimmercoat to see that Hiss was attacking him, barely being held back by a shield spell keeping his fangs mere centimeters from Shimmercoat’s face. It was Shimmercoat that was screaming.

“Hiss! Down! No attacking the slaves!” I ordered. Hiss backed off, his hackles bristled and his snake eyes giving Shimmercoat a death glare. I looked back to Shimmercoat, who still had his shield up. “Now, there is a caveat to this arrangement.” I groaned. “If you get too annoying, or disobey a direct order, your head will blow up. I have no qualms against pressing the detonate button on a worthless slave that wont listen to their mistress.” I cracked my neck. That ceiling slam had hurt. “Since I hadn’t made that point clear yet, that was your one free pass. Don’t push your luck, prettycolt.” I sat next to the fire again and munched on more steak. Hopefully my display of control over the situation would mean that he wouldn’t slam me into the ceiling again… ow… that headache will be there a while…

Shimmercoat was still standing, though the shield went down. “Selling ponies… or renting them, whatever… it’s… it’s wrong.” He said. He pointed at Crescent. “What about her?”

I looked at her, ignoring the comment about selling ponies. Like I hadn’t heard that one before. “She’s my slave too. We’ll see if she needs a collar when she wakes up, if she’s a good little filly, she won’t need one.” I doubted that she would need one, from what I saw of her, she would stick with Shimmercoat and I simply because we were the only ponies she was familiar with in the wasteland. “Like I said, get over it, and don’t be too annoying to keep alive.”

Shimmercoat looked like he wanted to say more. I raised my PipBuck, my hoof hovering over the detonate button. Shimmercoat shut his mouth. “Good boy.” I said. “Now all we have to eat right now is meat, so if you’re hungry, that’s what you get. I’m going to sleep now. We head out in the morning. Remember that if you go more than two hundred meters from me, your head blows up. And it also blows up if I die, or if my PipBuck can’t read me as alive, so try and resist killing me or taking off my PipBuck.” I smiled. “Really nifty device, I must thank you for giving it to me. It’ll make my job much easier, I used to have to worry about slaves stealing my detonators.” I made myself comfortable and closed my eyes on a dazed looking Shimmercoat. He was processing what was happening to him; I’d seen that look before. If I acted like I was in total control (which I was), then he would soon enough start believing it himself. The sooner he accepted me as his mistress, the better.

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

“Coin Slot… thou must awaken…”

What the heck was that?

I awoke with a start. I had the sneaking suspicion that somepony was watching me, but when I looked around, nothing had changed. The fire had died down, Shimmercoat and Hiss were both asleep, and Crescent was still unconscious. I got up and stretched, deciding to look outside our little cave for a moment. I levitated my rifle and Mezzer along with me, holstering them to my barding as I walked.

I approached the ladder that lead up to the entrance of the shack that hid this cave. No sign of any voices or anything at all, just the two corpses of the radscorpions where I had left them. I climbed up the ladder into the shack. Still nothing, just the impressions Hiss and I had left in the dust when we entered, and the patter of rain on the metal roof. Nopony else could have gotten in here without disturbing the dust… even a griffon would have moved it around with the wind generated by their wings.

“Hey, you fuckers! There’s a shack up ahead! Let’s get out of this rain!” a voice from outside shouted. It sounded like might be a stallion, and was definitely a little unhinged sounding. Better hide until I could tell whether this pony was friend or foe.

“Pipe down, Cracklejack! What if there’s somepony already in there?” This was a mare voice, who was shouting just as loud as Mr. Cracklejack, I might add.

“Then we got ourselves entertainment for the night! AHAHAHAHA!!” This was another stallion voice, notably rougher and even louder than Cracklejack’s. The tone and shakiness of his voice also suggested that he was on something, most likely Dash.

“I swear I don’t know why I put up with you two troglodytes…” The mare voice said. She wasn’t shouting anymore, but I could hear her quite well, for the simple reason that she was behind the door, about to come in. Uh oh. I ducked down into the hole, climbing down the ladder into the cave. These guys sounded like raiders, though I’d never heard a raider successfully use the word troglodyte in a sentence before… maybe that one mare was just a smart raider. Those sometimes happen, right? In any case, I needed to go wake up Hiss and Shimmercoat before we got ourselves in a confrontation.

“Hey, Sunny! There’s hoofprints in here!” said Cracklejack’s voice.

“I noticed.” Said the mare, who was apparently Sunny. “Arm up, Tiny goes first. Let’s check it out.”

“YEAHHHHHHHHH!!” Said the other stallion voice, who I could probably assume was Tiny. That name probably meant that he was built like a tank and about the size of one too. I expedited my pace, running to wake the others.

“Hiss! Shimmercoat!” I whispered loudly as I approached them, nudging them with my hoof. “Wake up, we got company!”

Hiss grumbled, yawned hugely, his fangs glistening as his mouth stretched to its impressive full width, and he stood up, stretching his paws forward and generally making a fuss about getting up earlier. I thought nightstalkers were supposed to be, oh I don’t know, nocturnal? Whatever. “Shimmercoat! Hey!” I kicked him a little harder.

“Bzuwahuh?” Shimmercoat started, lifting his head quickly and looking around with an unfocused gaze, his specs askew.

“We…” I started to say, but was interrupted.

“AWWW YEAHH! Sunny we got live ones in here! And not radscorpions, they’re ponies!” I turned around to look at what Shimmercoat was already looking at with his eyes the size of saucers.

Tiny was, as predicted, anything but. A white earth pony stallion with an orange mane and miniscule green eyes, every muscle in his body was packed into his skin like it had been shoved in there under extreme duress. They weren’t so much muscles as they were sliding hoofballs engaging in reproductive activities under his coat. It was… a disturbing sight, to say the least. He didn’t have any barding on. I doubted that he could find any that would fit without needing customization, but he did have a simply massive battle saddle on with not one, but two missile launchers mounted on it, one on each side. I would say that I wasn’t worried about them, because nopony would be stupid enough to fire missiles in a cave, but the dilation in his tiny eyes (maybe that’s why he was called Tiny) and the roughness of his voice suggested that he was on Dash. That combined with his presumably already low intelligence meant that if anypony were to fire high explosives in this cave, he would be the one to do it, and he’d probably kill us all.

“Um… hi.” I said.

“SHUT UP!” Tiny shouted. Little particles of dust fluttered down from the ceiling. Not good. “Wait till Sunny gets here. She’s the talker.”

“Yes, Tiny, I’m the talker. So stop talking. And for Celestia’s sake don’t fire those things in here. You remember what happened last time we were in a cave?” An orange unicorn mare said as she appeared from behind the massive bulk of Tiny. She had a black mane, green eyes, and a large .44 Mag pistol mounted on her battle saddle. It was strange to see a unicorn with a battle saddle that was actually rigged for battle saddle mounted firing, usually unicorns levitated their weapons. There are exceptions to every rule, though. “So, what have we here, my little ponies?” She said, looking at us with the smirk of one who is in charge and about to take advantage of that fact. “Who speaks for you?”

“I do.” Both Shimmercoat and I said at the same time. We glared at each other.

“Oh ho ho! Do I sense some group disharmony? How fun! What’da say boys, should we make Little Miss Goggles and Sexy Specs over here fight for our amusement?” Sunny said, turning her head to Cracklejack.

“I dunno, I kinda want the slave for myself. He’s got a purdy mouth… heh…” Cracklejack said, grinning in Shimmercoat’s direction. Shimmercoat paled, and I smiled.

“Well…” I said, ignoring the fact that these ponies were obviously hostile, red bars on the EFS and everything. Sometimes you’ve got to get over that fact when dealing with ponies in this line of business. “While he’s not for sale, Shimmercoat here is up for rent. I’ll even throw you ponies a deal for being such nice folks. Only 50 caps for the duration of your stay in this cave with him!” I ended my pitch with a grin, trying to look as friendly as possible.

“Hold up, no! I told you I would not be used in such a manner! Especially with these ruffians!” Shimmercoat said indignantly, stamping his hoof and wrinkling his nose in disgust.

“Ignore him. Do we have a deal?” I said, still grinning madly.

The raiders looked at each other, then at Shimmercoat, then at me, then at the unconscious Crescent. “What about her?” Sunny asked.

“Unfortunately she’s not ready for the market just yet.” I said delicately. I really disliked selling foals, especially if they had family. I straight up refused to separate families if I could possibly avoid it, which usually meant I left families alone when looking for more slaves to sell. I realized that I had technically separated Crescent from her Stable family, but since the Stable was pretty much most likely all dead due to our recent escape, and she would have died with them if I had left her in there, I wasn’t feeling too bad about that. “She’s getting over a fever, and I don’t sell damaged merchandise.” I continued, hoping it was enough to sate their curiosity.

I could see that Sunny was thinking it over. I had offered way under what a night with a pony like Shimmercoat was worth, and it was obvious that at least two of this little group was attracted to him. I did not like the looks Tiny was giving me (do not want), but if I could negotiate our way out of this situation, and even gain a small profit, that would be dandy.

“How about this…” Sunny said after a short internal deliberation. “Since you brought that sort of thing up, instead of us buying a day with Shimmerglasses over there, how about Crackle and I take him, Tiny takes you, and afterwards, we kill you all so we don’t have to pay a thing!” She grinned her mad grin. Broken clipboards, I had hoped that it wouldn’t come to this. “Tiny! Grab her!” Sunny commanded the hulking earth pony, pointing at me.

Tiny charged, his well muscled form moving way quicker then it had any right to. I dodged to the side, whacking Tiny’s passing foreleg with the Hoof of Honor, connecting pretty solidly with the strike. He didn’t even flinch from the blow, and returned it with a backhoof strike right to my muzzle.

Ow.

I went flying, tumbling head-over-hock into the wall behind me. Something went crunch, and an intense blossom of pain erupted from the point of impact. I screamed, and I suddenly couldn’t feel anything below my stomach. Above my stomach was nothing but sheer pain. I shouted in agony as Tiny charged for me again, slowing down as he got closer, realizing that I was functionally incapacitated. “HAHAHAHA!” he laughed loudly. “I thought slavers were supposed to be tough! What do you do, capture babies to sell them? HA! You need a bigger stallion to be in charge…”

Oh no… nonono… Ma… this was bad… he’s… “Help!” I shouted, scrabbling with my forehooves as I struggled to distance myself from Tiny. The pain I experianced when I tried to move, though, was overwhelming, and I couldn’t move fast enough. I looked over to where Shimmercoat had been. He had been backed up to a wall, behind one of his shields as Sunny and Cracklejack were pounding away at it with their hooves. I don’t know how much progress they were making, but it looked like he was too busy with his own issues to help me. I doubted that he would have come to my assistance anyways if my life wasn’t on the line.

My back legs wouldn’t move, and I was backed up against the wall, fighting to get away from the hulking beast who was clearly enjoying watching me struggle. Very clearly enjoying it, when I took a glance. I immediately I wished I hadn’t. “Ma… help…” I said weakly.

Tiny stopped, and then just lost it, laughing louder than he had before. “AHAHAHAHAHA!!! Oh, that’s just GREAT! Crying for her mama, HA! Some big tough slaver you are, little mare! Nopony’s coming to save you, you might as well just lay there and wait for papa! Cause mama ain’t on her way, that’s for sure!”

Shimmercoat was having his own problems, Crescent Wrench was unconscious, and I was on the ground and about to…

A shimmer weaved its way behind Tiny, and ducked under his legs. I broke into a huge, evil grin, unable to contain myself. “Heh, that’s right, might as well enj…” Tiny started, then he froze. His tiny eyes got even smaller, and I put my hooves over my ears as his earth-shattering scream of pain and suffering voiced itself to the heavens. Hiss reappeared, his fangs buried in Tiny’s… well… junk. Yes, let’s go with that. I laughed as he curled up into a Tiny ball. Then I hissed in pain, laughing had reminded me that I wasn’t doing too well. Gritting my teeth, I concentrated, levitating my rifle from where it had fallen when Tiny smacked me. Taking aim at Tiny’s head point-blank, I pulled the trigger…

I pulled the trigger…

Why can’t I pull the trigger? Is it broken? I took a closer look at my rifle quickly, there weren’t any apparent jams. I pointed at the ceiling, and it fired normally, a bullet burying itself into the rock face. Weird. I took aim at Tiny again and… why can’t I pull the trigger!? Frustrated, I activated S.A.T.S and thought the order to fire at Tiny. There it was, right in the order queue. I slipped out of S.A.T.S, waiting for the spell to fire my gun for me. I felt my horn try and pull the trigger, but it… didn’t. The trigger was fine, my own horn was resisting me! Did that hit I took do something to my magic?

Growling in frustration, I levitated the rifle’s mouth-grip into my teeth. Tiny was still rolling on the floor screaming in pain, with a very pleased looking Hiss sitting next to him holding… ok, I didn’t need to see that. I aimed the rifle manually at Tiny’s head and…

ARGH. My tongue refused to function. It was like I was pulling against a trigger that had been wonderglued into place, it simply wasn’t budging. I checked for jams again and it fired fine, so long as I wasn’t aiming at Tiny. “WHAT IS GOING ON!?” I screamed.

I was answered when a bullet blasted Tiny’s head into bits, splashing blood, bone, and bits of brain all over me. Gross. It wasn’t my bullet that did it though. I looked up to see that Shimmercoat had been victorious in his struggle against Cracklejack and Sunny, and was holding Sunny’s .44 Mag pistol in his telekinesis, giving me a look of disgust. “Geeze, Coin, why’d you leave him there? You could have put him out of his misery. And keep that thing away from me.” He said, pointing at Hiss, who was finishing up his… snack.

“I tried! I couldn’t fire my weapon at him for some reason!” I protested. How had Shimmercoat fended off two raiders with no weapons anyways? I looked over to the bodies of Crackle and Sunny. Crackle looked quite smashed, like he’d been dragged across the walls and slammed into the ceiling. I couldn’t see what was wrong with Sunny, except for the fact that she wasn’t breathing. I tried to get up, and cried out in pain. I still couldn’t feel anything under my lower back, and right above the spot where I couldn’t feel anything felt like every nerve right there was being flayed with a cheese grater. “I… can’t move my hind legs.” I said.

“Uh oh. Check your PipBuck’s diagnostic.” Shimmercoat said. He was sill looking at the three raiders with a look on his face suggesting that he thought Hiss was more of a pony than them, and didn’t seem concerned at all that I was on the ground and apparently incapacitated. Sure, I enslaved him, but the least he could do is offer a hoof.

I checked the little pony’s outline on the PipBuck’s ‘condition’ screen. “Umm… the torso is outlined in dotted lines and says, ‘Crippled – Spine Fracture, Possible Parylisis.’ That’s bad, isn’t it?” To be honest, my medical knowledge could still use some work. I needed to go over that book again.

“Wait, you’re paralyzed? Can you feel your legs?” Shimmercoat asked, he even managed to sound a little concerned.

“No.” I answered. Now I was worried. “Um… what does paralyzed mean?” I asked.

“Seriously?” Shimmercoat replied, facehoofing. “Ugh, uneducated little…” he muttered. Hey! My Ma taught me all I needed to know about life and how to run a casino. I could probably kick his rear at fancy mathematics. Medical training had been left out of my education though, so I didn’t know the big fancy terminology, big whoop. “Paralyzed means that your spinal column has been severed, at worst. Your brain isn’t connected to your legs any more. Without immediate medical attention, that entire section of your body will be unable to respond to your brains commands and… well… can you feel your, um, rear?”

The paralysis thing started at my lower back, so no, I couldn’t feel my rear. “Um, no… is that bad?” I asked, sounding more worried than I meant.

“Well, you won’t be able to go to the bathroom then. Which means that without treatment you’ll die from blood toxicity as the waste in your system builds up.” Shimmercoat sounded worried too. He should, if I die his head goes up in smoke, and he knew it.

“Ok… I don’t want to die from blood toxicitery.” I said, carefully trying to calm myself down. It’s only an injury, I’d had those before. Drink a healing potion and you’re good, right? “Paralysis is easy to fix though, right?” I asked.

Shimmercoat looked glum. Not good. “No… you’ll need surgery, by a skilled surgeon, and even then it’s iffy if you’ll ever get use of your back legs again. If we were still in the Stable then Doc Heffa would be able to fix you up no problem. Too bad we can’t go back.” He said bitterly. This is not what I wanted to hear. “You know of any doctors around here? The closer the better.”

“I… I…” I stammered. I suddenly felt… very tired. The world was spinning in front of me. “Ugh…” I retched, and threw up half-digested radscorpion steak goop. It did not taste as good coming up as going down. “Ugh, gross…” I murmured. I had meant to say it louder than that… this is bad… The grey stone of the cave floor wavered in my vision, and my eyes rolled back invoulentarily until I could see the slightly darker grey of the cave ceiling. The cave did not feel so warm and comfortable now as it did when we were eating.

“You’re going into shock! Quick, tell me where the nearest doctor is!” Shimmercoat said, approaching me swiftly, despite the vomit. Hiss wined, also approaching me and pawing at my stomach as I lay there pitifully.

“There… there’s a town a few days south of here called McSoys… but…” I said, but that’s all that I could get out as my vision flickered, then blacked out.

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

“Coin Slot…” said a voice. I was standing in the middle of a large black expanse. I wasn’t wearing anything, and no details of even what I was standing on could even be made out. All that there was was just solid black. Even though I felt plenty of space around me, for some reason I felt extremely claustrophobic at the moment.

“What? What is it?!” I answered the voice, my own voice sounding high and squeaky. Huh? I turned to look at the rest of me, and saw that I was suddenly a filly again, even younger than Crescent. Ok… not weird at all.

“It is time we introduced ourselves to each other. We shall be partners for now and ever after, after all.” The voice said. It was big, booming, and made the back of my neck try to crawl up my skull. It sounded male. I realized that this voice had been the one that woke me up this morning. If it hadn’t, we probably would have been caught by surprise by Sunny and her little gang, so at least I had that to go off of. Did the voice want to help me? Was I going crazy? What was going on? What did it mean by ‘partners ever after?’

“Um… what’s going on?” I asked. “And if you know my name already, why do you need an introduction?”

“A formal recognition of an entity is far superior to that of knowledge gained via unintentional espionage.” It said.

Espionage? “What, you’ve been spying on me?” I asked, my little filly voice sounding annoyed.

“Again, unintentional. Brace thyself, I am about to manifest in front of thee.” It said. A swirl of blue steam flowed around me, appearing from the blackness. It concentrated into a pony-shaped form in front of me. I could see little white specks in the steam, and the head of the pony shape swirled into form. It was the only part of the steamy blue body that seemed solid, and it was a familiar shape.

The blue-steam pony had Mezzer for its head. The energy emitter screen turned down towards me as if it were looking at me. Since I was only the size of a filly, the blue-steam pony towered over me. I shrunk back.

“Do not be afraid, I cannot harm you.” It said. “You hath christened me ‘Mezzer.’ This is my name. It is a pleasure to meet you.”

“L-likewise…” I stammered, unsure of what to say, so I fell back to the manners that my dear ol’ Ma taught me. This whole situation was just plain weird. “May I ask… w-what are you?”

“I do not know.” What was apparently Mezzer replied. Well that was helpful. “Before I cameth to this planet, I was merely a chunk of metal. I have been journeying through space since before this planet even existed. Yet I am only aware of this fact as mere trivia. The ‘myself’ that presents itself before thou hast no knowledge of the before time.” Mezzer said. He… at least I thought it was a he, I don’t know why. It certainly had a deep voice… anyways, he sounded old, and he spoke with old mannerisms, though his grammer was pretty choppy, like he was faking it. His steamy body was in the shape of a young, fit stallion however, and he suprisingly had no creak in his voice. He somehow gave off this strong, youthful vibe, like he was ready to jump up and get to work.

“The before time?” I asked, still befuddled, and so I was basically repeating what he said while I tried to think of something. Apparitions while unconscious usually involved my dear ol’ Ma, this was entirely new to me.

“The time before I gained my intelligence. The time before I met… thou.” He said, stepping closer. I backed away, and he stopped, standing there being all wispy. “When I landed on the planet’s surface, I was infused with what I now knoweth to be plant material, with magical properties. I knoweth not why it granted me intelligence, but as soon as thou touched my previous form, I was reshaped into this…” He waved a wispy hoof, gesturing at his head. “And it has bonded our spirits together inexorably. We are one.” Ok… we’ve left weird behind and headed right on down to creepytown.

“I… I’m confused. You’re my Mezzer? My new gun?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“And you’re… alive?”

“As long as thou livest, yes. I have been tied to thou’s soul.” It… he said.

My soul. Alright, yeah, Creepytown, Equestria. Population: this guy. “Were you the one that warned me about Sunny and her cronies approaching us?” I asked.

“Yes. Protecting thou is one of my primary goals. If I am tied to thou’s soul, than if thou dies, I shall also perish. I have just gained life, I am not done with it yet.” Mezzer said. “Be aware that I will be keeping an eye on thou. I can sense far more than thou can.”

Alright, like I said before, creepy, but, if this new passenger in my head… or soul, whatever… was looking out for me, than that was actually pretty sweet, wasn’t it?

“Also, I am afraid I am the reason thou can no longer kill anypony.” Mezzer said.

“What?” I asked. He started to repeat himself, but I interrupted. “You mean that you were the reason I couldn’t pull the trigger on Tiny when he was about to rape me?!” I said furiously.

“I am afraid so. I am a non-lethal weapon. A Mesmetron. The real models of this weapon were developed by General Atomareics before the war, for use as riot-control weapons for police officers. Do not ask me how I know this, I knoweth not how I know for myself.” He said, using very confusing, old fashioned sentence structure. “I also knoweth not how I work, I just know what I am. If thou wants more information, I suggest seeking out a General Atomareics database. As a non-lethal weapon bound to thou’s soul, I am afraid I have an influence over thou. Thou art effectively a non-lethal weapon as well. Thou art no longer able to kill sentient life forms.”

I stood there in shock. “I… I can’t kill anyone?” I said. “I… I never want to kill, but if you know so much you know what it’s like out there! In my line of work! I need to be able to protect myself!”

“I shall aid thou in that endeavor, but I am afraid that the effect I have on thou is not only permanent, but can never be lost. I am bound to thou, if thou seeks to rid thy self of me, thou will have to kill thy self.” Mezzer said, an almost apologetic tone to his strange voice.

“So I’m stuck with you too? If I had known picking you up would have done that, I wouldn’t have touched you in the first place!” I said, getting angry. I stepped up right next to the flowing apparition.

“If thou hadst not, those star-wolves wouldst have devoured thou.” He stated matter-of-factly.

He was right, if it weren’t for him blowing the heads off those wolves, I would have been toast back then. This was too much… I must be going insane. “I must be insane… that’s the only explanation for all of this.” I said. “Shock! That’s it, I’m in shock from breaking my back.”

“Thou may write me off as an apparition born of insanity, or as a symptom of shock, but thou art still stuck with me. I hope that, with time, thou wilt accept me as thy friend.” Mezzer said calmly. He sounded sincere, and a little bit sad, and I felt like a jerk for not even considering that he could be real.

“I… we’ll see. In the meantime, do you have any idea what’s going on out… you know…” I said, trying to find the right words. “In the real world? This is a dream or something, right? I’m a filly after all, and I know for a fact that I should be a full grown mare.”

“We art in thy inner self, where thy soul resides. The form you hold now is thy true form.” Mezzer said.

“Wait, are you saying that I’m still a little foal on the inside?!” I said, getting angry again.

“That would appear to be the case.”

“Well… I’m not! I’m a big pony! I mean… uh… an adult! A full grown mare!” I said, my little foal voice sounding silly even to my ears. For a being without real eyes, Mezzer gave me the distinct impression that he was raising an eyebrow at me.

“Thou art a full grown mare with what appears to be a severe mother fixation, if I have read thou correctly.” He said.

“It’s not a fixation! I just love her very much!” I shouted. I hated it when ponies told me I was obsessed with my dear ol’ Ma. Because I wasn’t. Really.

“Indeed.” Was all Mezzer replied. “Well, to answer thy other question, I do have an idea of what is going on whilst thou art unconscious. It would appear that thy slave Shimmercoat hast picked thou up in some sort of magical stretcher. He is walking outside, and it would also appear that thy nightstalker is being contained inside a shield.”

Ok then. At least I knew we were moving, even if I wasn’t awake to tell the Stable pony where to go. I wondered why Hiss was being contained… and one other thing. “What about Crescent Wrench?”

“I don’t… wait. There she is. It would seem that she has awoken. She looks frightened. Shimmercoat is speaking to her as we travel. I cannot hear him, but I would hazard a guess that he is informing her of the current events” Mezzer said.

“Good. Means I don’t have too.” I said. Of course I would still talk to the filly, she was probably getting the ‘angry-first-time-slave-forced-to-do-something-he-doesn’t-like’ bias right now. It was a ludicrous bias that all ponies that were enslaved had to get over quick or find their heads spontaneously fragmented. I hoped that Crescent would still make a good slave even without a collar. Now that I had my bags, I had spares, but I really didn’t like putting collars on little fillies or colts. Usually they could be convinced or trained to just follow orders. Not all slavers had my point of view on that matter, but that was one of the reasons why I generally worked alone. I didn’t have to put up with any lack-of-ethics malarkey from anypony else.

“Thou art about to return to consciousness. Thy heart rate is speeding up.” Mezzer said. “Now that our connection is complete, thou wilt be hearing from me more often. For now, however, I bid thee adieu.” I opened my mouth to reply, but Mezzer was already fading from view as I slipped into the darkness…

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

My first sensation upon waking was pain. Dear jumping lima beans, the pain! The area above my broken back felt like it was being held against a burning stove top, while simultaneously every nerve under my skin was being plucked like harpsichord strings by the tips of rusty knives. Below the break, of course, there was nothing. My eyes still closed, I coughed, and choked out the words, “Med-X. Please…”

I felt a tiny prick at the base of my neck, and the pain mercifully dulled away. I opened my eyes. I was lying on top of a flattened shield spell, like a magical stretcher, just as Mezzer said. Hiss was floating above me, in his own little bubble shield. Crescent was backing away from me, dropping the empty syringe in her pack. I was surprised, usually Stable ponies like her took a little while before realizing that everything, and literally everything, even empty used syringes, had a salvageable value. “What’s going on… hey Crescent. Good to see you’re awake.” I said. She just looked away, obviously still intimidated by me despite the fact that I was paralyzed.

“Well, I figured that there had to be a medical center or doctor or something somewhere out here, so I started walking.” Shimmercoat said. His horn was glowing as his magic kept Hiss and I in and on the shields he was projecting. He was looking down at the ground with a determined gaze. Crescent was also focused intently on the ground in front of her hooves.

“You might be able to find your way better if you looked up.” I said. I looked around. We had gone from the flat wastes surrounding Stable 11 to a spread-out suburban area, with leveled housing developments as far as the eye could see. A few houses still stood, having withstood both the balefire bombs and the test of time, but they were few and far between.

“Can’t. The ceiling is… too far up. It’s big out here.” Shimmercoat said. “My PipBuck’s auto-map has been doing fine. I’m headed towards a place it’s tagged as ‘Maregaton.’ I’m assuming that’s the name of some sort of village or something.”

Maregaton. The name brought memories of crazy bomb-worshippers to mind. Also, I knew that they didn’t like slavers, and wouldn’t let us in even if our life depended on it. Which coincidentally, mine did. “It is a village, but I’m afraid it won’t do us any good.” I said.

“Why not?” Crescent asked.

“They don’t allow slavers in.” I answered. “The collar you’re wearing will tip them off, Shimmercoat, and they’ll throw me to the wolves. Crescent could get in, but I can’t and by extension, you can’t get 200 yards past the gate. Even if we could get in, if their doctor suspected me in any way of being a slaver, they would refuse to provide treatment.” I said with a depressed sigh. I tried to think of a slaver-friendly town near Maregaton, but couldn’t think of any offhoof. The closest I knew of was Auction House, and that was basically as far away as Fillydelphia right now, just in the opposite direction and only a few miles closer.

“While I am very happy to hear that not everypony is a slaving bitch like yourself,” Shimmercoat said, “I’m afraid that if you don’t get treatment for your back within the next twenty four hours, your life will be in major jeopardy. As will mine, unless you remove this collar.”

“Not on your life. You’ll just leave me in the dust.” I said. I was scared stiff, to tell the truth, but I’d be darned if I’d show it.

“Better believe it.” Shimmercoat replied. Hiss growled from his bubble above me.

“Why is Hiss in a shield?” I asked.

“He keeps trying to attack me. I have no idea why.” Shimmercoat said, glaring at the nightstalker before his eyes tracked upwards to the sky. He shivered, and quickly looked down again. “So I’m keeping him contained until you can tell him to back off.”

“Hiss. No.” I said. Hiss continued growling though, and ignored me completely. “You know what, I don’t have the energy for this, just leave him in there for now.” I said.

“Is… is it true that if I leave you, I’ll die?” Crescent asked, looking up at me.

“Well…” I started. “If you leave me, you’ll most likely run into some sort of nasty critter who wants you for dinner. Or a ganger who’ll rape you till you split wide open. Or a crazy raider who’ll kill you and eat you. Or another slaver like myself who isn’t as nice and will force you into a collar even though you’re just a kid. And also probably rape you. Plus you’ll also be leaving the only pony you know, Shimmercoat.” I said. With each description of the most common nasties in the wastes, her face grew paler and paler. She trotted closer to my little glowing stretcher, looking around nervously. Smart filly.

“Are there… Creepers?” She asked.

“Good grief, no.” Both Shimmercoat and I said simultaneously. We gave each other a glance. “Creeper’s don’t exist, sweetie.” Shimmercoat said patently, like he’d been over this with her a hundred times, which, for all I knew, he had. She blushed at the word ‘sweetie.’

“I sense trouble on the horizon.” The voice of Mezzer said in my head. I jerked up in surprise. I would have jumped, but the lower half of my body was, of course, not going anywhere.

“What kind of trouble?” I asked. Shimmercoat and Crescent gave me a look. Whoops. Don’t look like a crazy mare in front of the slaves, Coin. “I mean, uh, I think there’s trouble up ahead…” I said nervously. Shimmercoat looked at the horizon with minor difficulty, turning his head slowly as if scanning for something. “I don’t see any hostiles on E.F.S. Except for that abomination, of course.” He said, pointing at Hiss.

“Well… keep your eyes peeled.” I instructed. I noticed my own E.F.S was sitting there at the corner of my vision. Right now there was just a few green bars representing Hiss, Shimmercoat, and Crescent on it, but I could tell already that this thing would be useful. PipBucks, a waster’s best friend, provided they worked correctly. “Um… you sure that there’s something out there?” I thought, hoping Mezzer could pick up on thoughts.

“I am. Although closer examination reveals that it may not be a threat. It is moving in the same direction as thou, towards the village of Maregaton. I will endeavor to be less jumpy in the future. I’m a little tense right now, as I am worried for thy well-being.” Mezzer said. Well isn’t that nice.

Ok, so we weren’t the only ones on the road. At least it wasn’t a group of raiders, I don’t think the two Stable ponies I was with could handle a fight without my help… even if I couldn’t kill anymore…

“Auuugh!!” I cried out, sudden pain lancing through me even through the dullness of Med-X. My E.F.S flashed a warning; Blood Toxicity Level at 20%. I relayed this information to Shimmercoat. “Is… is that bad?” I asked. I had no idea what any of this medical stuff meant. Toxicity was poison, right?

His face looked grim. “We need to hurry, we have less time then I hoped. It’ll depend on how tough you are. If your body can handle more than 40% toxicity level, I’ll be impressed.” I really did not like the sound of that.

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

We rushed onwards through the crumbled streets of the blasted out suburbs of the old world, luckily not running into anything nasty, though Crescent did fall into no less than three sinkholes. She wasn’t hurt in any of them, but it slowed us down when Shimmercoat had to help her up with a shield spell shaped like stairs in order for her to get out of the holes. A few hours later, the wall surrounding the crater-town of Maregaton appeared out of the everpresent gloom. A cart was parked outside the entrance gate, probably the thing that Mezzer had detected earlier. “There it is…” I groaned. I really wasn’t feeling well, and the Med-X was wearing off.

“How’re you doing?” Crescent Wrench asked, sounding worried. For being so scared of me, she was awfully concerned for my well-being, staying close and fussing over me as I lay on Shimmercoat’s shield.

“My PipBuck says 29% toxicity level… and I feel like crud.” I replied. “They’re not going to let us in you know…”

“No sense in not trying.” Shimmercoat said. “Do you think we could disguise the fact that you’re a slaver somehow? Maybe have me wear a cloth around my neck, stash any suspicious gear, and get in that way?”

“Maybe…” I considered what he said. We had enough strips of cloth from the Stable barding I tore up when I combined it with my leather armor to make a decent neck covering… what was that?

A winged figure was racing straight towards us from the top of Maregaton’s protective wall. It landed right in front of us with an eruption of dust blasting forth from the rocky ground at its hooves. When the dust cleared, a blood-red pegasus with a blond mane and a combat shotgun and sniper rifle mounted on his battle saddle could be seen glaring at us. His cutie mark had been branded off with the symbol of a cloud-and-lightning-bolt. A Dashite. “Or not…” I muttered. He must have seen us through his scope. Of course Maregaton would have somepony on watch. They could see all the way down the decaying street we just walked down from the position at the top of the rusty old gate. He must have seen us from several miles out. There was no way he hadn’t identified us as a slaver and slaves.

“Halt! What business do you have coming here, slaver?!” the pegasus said loudly, his voice echoing off the walls of the suburb houses around here that were still standing. He had a tad too much melodrama in his tone. Must be his first guard duty, or he was way to committed to his job.

“We need medical assistance.” Shimmercoat said, giving the pegasus a winning smile that, if he were a mare, would have probably brought the pegasus to his knees. As it was, though, the pegasus just snorted in derision. “My… owner… here has broken her back, and she’ll die without surgery.” He said with a slight grimace.

“Well sucks to be her then! Good! One less slaver in the wastes! Once you two are free of her bondage I’ll treat you to drinks at Hoff’s Hoof! Name’s Shotty Snipes.” He held out his hoof to Shimmercoat, and Shimmercoat shook it warily, unsure of how to approach this buck. Shotty glanced back at Maregaton’s gate behind him.

“I don’t think you understand. If she dies, so do I.” Shimmercoat said. “An innocent slave.” He added, for emphasis. “My head will blow up.” I got the impression that Shimmercoat didn’t think this pegasus was very bright. I laid there looking as pathetic as possible, not hard to do since I felt like brahmin manure.

“Ooo, sorry to hear that, mate. I’m afraid town policy doesn’t allow me to let any slavers in, under any circumstances. That even includes hostage situations, the town just can’t afford the risk that they bring.” Shotty said. A tumbleweed rolled by on the street, bouncing off a dilapidated mailbox as this news sunk in. It was worse than I thought, they wouldn’t even let me in if I had a hostage? But hostages always work!

“But sir!” Crescent Wrench piped up, widening her eyes and looking so gol-darned cute that I could see giant bags of caps lining up to buy her at Auction House. “If our mistress dies, then poor Shimmy will die, and I’ll be left all alone!” She pouted, her lower lip trembling up at the now flustered pegasus.

“Shimmy?” Muttered Shimmercoat, glancing at the filly.

“Well… you could just… come on into Maregaton after that…” Shotty said, and Crescent started to sniffle, tears forming on the edges of her eyes. Man, this filly was good. Would we be able to get past the guard? My spirits lifted a little. If that was possible, then maybe we could convince the doctor to see me… and maybe I wouldn’t die! I sat up a little, even though it hurt like the dickens to do so.

“B-b-b-BUTIDONTWANNABEALONE!! BWAAAHAAAAAHAAAAAA!!” Crescent burst into tears. Shotty looked like he wanted to be anywhere else but here. He looked at me.

“Uh… Miss, would you mind if you just let these slaves go? If you did, I could… maybe put in a good word for you? Who knows? They could let one exception in… after years and years of the same policy… with no exceptions even in more dire circumstances…” he deflated, even he knew that that would never happen. “Look, I’m sorry, I really can’t let you or your slaves in.” He lifted off, flapping slowly back towards the gate. “Sorry.” He said over his shoulder again. As soon as he was out of earshot, Crescent Wrench stopped crying. She rubbed her eyes and sniffled.

“That was a good try Crescent.” I said through gritted teeth. “I’m afraid it’ll take more than fake tears to get past the gate, though…”

“W-whatdya mean f-f-fake?! I really don’t want to be left alone out here!” Crescent said, her eyes tearing up again. Shoot, she was actually crying?! It wasn’t an act?!

“The owner of the cart wants thy attention.” Mezzer said before I could reply. I looked up at the cart in front of the gate. There was a tall unicorn buck there waving a hoof at us. “Maybe he can help us?”

“Shimmercoat, take us to that cart… maybe he has something that can help me.” I said, hoping beyond hope that this mysterious buck was a traveling doctor with low scruples.

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

“Quick, get in my cart.” The dark brown buck said when we approached him. He had blue eyes and a red mane and tail.

“Why?” Shimmercoat asked.

“Just do as he says, Shimmercoat!” I said angrily. The pain was really getting to me, and the odd disembodiment of my lower half was as maddening as all get out. My bottom hooves were right there, why couldn’t I move them!? Stupid medical stuff.

“My mommy said that we weren’t supposed to go with strangers anywhere in the Stable.” Crescent said. Shoot, my dear ol’ Ma had said the same thing too. Why was I forgetting important things like that? It must be the pain. Before I could speak up and change my mind, though, Shimmercoat hauled myself and Hiss into the covered wagon while its owner hitched himself up. Crescent hopped up onto the end of the cart to join us, and we were off in a flash, headed away from the gates of Maregaton at a fairly fast clip. We had only traveled a few hundred yards, however, when the cart stopped near a big rock.

“What’s going on?” I called out to our driver.

“I needed to get out of earshot from the gate guard.” The buck said, unhitching himself from the cart. Oh, boy, I hoped we didn’t make a mistake getting in this cart… though if I didn’t get help in a few hours it wouldn’t make a difference. The buck came around to the back of the cart and into view. I was pleased to see that he was unarmed. He was wearing a pair of old sunglasses and a weird-looking hat with a brim that came to a point in the front and back. “I think we can help each other. My name is Price, and I represent a client who is interested in some things that I think a slaver such as yourself could provide.”

Well. Alright then. Sometimes ponies requested specific jobs for me; in fact those kinds of jobs were usually the best paying. But something like getting into a mysterious cart and racing off away from town before giving the job offer had never happened before. “I’m grateful for the chance at a job…” I said warily. “But I don’t know if you noticed or not, I’m not being carried around by my slave because I’m lazy. My back is broken.” I hissed in pain.

“And she’s dying.” Shimmercoat interjected. “Which amounts to me dying as well. So unless you’re a doctor and doing this job will convince you to heal her, I’m afraid that we really don’t have the time to whatever it is you want doing.”

“Oh, I am well aware of your situation, and my payment for this job is quite fitted to your current state of health.” Price said. My ears perked up. Was he suggesting that he could pay me with a healed back? I’d take it, no matter the job. I had no intention of dying today. “I’m no doctor…” he said, my ears drooping again at this news, “but I have a…piece of equipment that will make short work of your back injury.”

“How did he know that thy back was broken? Besides the large amount of bruising on thy back, thy doesn’t have any outward signs of being injured at all. And he was in front of us, not following us…” Mezzer said.

Hey… wait a second… Mezzer was right! How did this Price ‘know of our situation,’ as he put it? Something was up… but if he really could fix my back… “This piece of equipment… can it really fix my back?” I asked.

“Guaranteed. I’ll give you a hint as to what it is; it’s old world tech.” Price said. Well I knew that there was plenty of old world magic and technology developed by the Ministry of Peace that could do miraculous things when it came to recovering injuries; healing potions being among them. “And I’ll even let you use it before you do what I want you to do, so you don’t have to go do this job with a broken back. I will, however, need some sort of insurance to make sure that the contract is done. Wouldn’t want to fix you up only to have you disappear on me, no?” He smiled a humorless smile. Crescent Wrench cowered, scooting up closer to Shimmercoat. That gave me an idea.

“One of my slaves. That will be your insurance. I don’t intend on selling these two anytime soon.” I said.

“And how do I know that you won’t just abandon your slave, especially after I give you this equipment? I am letting you keep this equipment after all, and it’s fairly valuable.” Price countered. “But it’s the price I’m willing to pay to get this done. My client wants it done, and authorized me to use whatever I need to to ensure that it is completed.”

“Wait, we get to keep it?” I said, incredulous. Medical technology was rare enough that it was worth ten times its weight in caps. If this ‘equipment’ was capable of fixing a broken back, then whatever this job was had to be not only difficult, but extremely dangerous. But it wasn’t as if I had a choice.

“Isn’t it awful convenient that the moment thou needs something to fix thy broken back, somepony comes along with the means to do so, and a job they want thou to do for it? This reeks of a bad scheme to me.” Mezzer pointed out.

“That’s a valid point, but it’s not like I have much choice, do I?” I thought back at it. I would figure out what kind of scheme this Price was up to after I got my back fixed.

“Why don’t you have her wear one of her own collars? She has more in her pack.” Shimmercoat said, a triumphant, vindictive look on his face.

“Hey, yeah! That’ll convince you I’m really going to do the job, right? If I disappear on you, you can just push the detonate button, and my head will go up in smoke.” I said, a triumphant look also on my face. Shimmercoat looked at me in shock. “What?” I asked. “Collars are, like I said, tools to force and enhance cooperation. If I need to wear one so we can cooperate, I have no qualms doing so.” That seemed to stun Shimmercoat, and he looked thoughtfully at me, as if he were trying to figure out a difficult puzzle. I don’t know why, it really isn’t that complicated.

“That is sufficient insurance.” Price said, smiling. His glasses reflected the light in a creepy manner, the pointed brim of his hat casting a pointy shadow on his muzzle that made him kind of look like some sort of bird. A vulture, maybe, or a buzzard.

“So, we have a deal. You give us the means to heal me, and we do this job for you.” I said, more then satisfied with the terms. I would do whatever it took to survive, and if he needed a slaver, then that probably meant he wanted somepony found or captured. My specialty. ”What’s the job?”

“Detonate the megaspell in the center of Maregaton.”

Level up! (Lv. 6)

New Perk: Just A Flesh Wound: You have sustained a crippled limb for so long that the pain from having your limbs crippled is now something you can withstand far better then you could before. All negative effects from having your limbs crippled are halved.

Enchanted Weapon Perk analysis: 100% complete!

Enchanted Weapon Perk: You have gained a sentient weapon that will give you advice and watch out for your well being. It’s perception is effectively double that of your own, and it can protect you against a variety of mental assaults, both magical and non-magical. However, you are limited in what you can do by what the weapon in particular is. In this case, you can no longer kill sentient beings, since the enchanted weapon is intended to be a non-lethal weapon.

Author’s Note: HUGE thanks to Kkat for writing Fallout: Equestria and giving us sidefic writers a great big sandbox to play in. Also thanks to Lesolan (who is super-amazing and the best editor ever) and Shimmercoat (who is also cool, I guess) 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!

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