• Published 6th Apr 2014
  • 7,193 Views, 544 Comments

Fallout Equestria: Influx - Lex the Pikachu



A mare wakes up to discover she is in the Wasteland and not who she used to be. Determined to discover the truth she heads out into the wasteland. But the truth can be disturbing.

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Chapter 4: Unexpected Find

Fallout Equestria
Influx

Chapter 4: Unexpected Find


Predictably, the door to the building was locked and we didn't have time to mess around or search for an alternate entrance because those mutated geckos would be on us in seconds. Fruity slammed into the door in a shoulder barge but the door resisted and he bounced off with a painful moan.

"Ah shit, Luna fuck me sideways that door is solid," He groaned getting back up.

"We haven't got time for this." I cried. I might as well put my mechanical weight to good use and bust this door open myself. I jumped forward, landed on my forehooves and spun around and thrust my hindlegs out in an applebuck against the door knobs. My buck, coupled with the momentum and my weight, overwhelmed the door's lock and it burst open, the two doors slamming into the walls inside.

"Inside." I yelled with urgency.

We both dashed inside as the geckos let out a roar as they continued to chase us. We grabbed a door each and slammed it closed, but because I busted the door's main lock, we couldn't shut it.

"Shit." Fruity whined as he held the door closed.

I looked around frantically for something to barricade the door with, but there was nothing close. However, I then noticed something at the bottom of the door. With hope filling my rapidly beating heart, I looked up and let out a cry of happiness. The door had deadbolts.

"The deadbolts," I cried and jumped at the two at the bottom, quickly grabbing the metal rods and jamming them into their holes in the floor.

"What, yes." Fruity said as he looked up and quickly jammed the pair at the top of the door into place to seal the door.

Once the bolts were locked in place, we then pressed ourselves against the door just as the geckos crashed into it. We dug our hooves into the dirty tiled floor as we held the doors to keep the little monsters out. They bashed and crashed against the door repeatedly for a good ten minutes before they gave up. We listened until we couldn't hear them anymore, before we slumped to the floor panting.

"Phew that was close," Fruity whined as he pulled himself up before he held his hoof out to help me up. Taking his hoof, I pulled myself back up as well.

"Yeah, but we're trapped in here for a while though. I don't think it'll be safe to go back out with those things nearby."

Fruity nodded in agreement as we began to look around the lobby of the MASA Headquarters. The place was a mess, papers and other junk littering the floors and other surfaces. The reception desk was trashed, its terminals broken and smashed and the filing cabinets behind it seemed to be missing all their drawers. In the middle of the room a large model of a rocket stood but looked like someone had beat it with a sledgehammer constantly for weeks with its body all dented and out of shape. We could see several doors in the room, one large door stood open in the far left corner, two doors leading to toilets sat in the back wall and to our right we could see a blue security door with a cardkey terminal on the wall beside it and laying dead in front of the door were four bodies of ponies wearing the same kind of cobbled together armours we know from Raiders.

"The hell happened to them?" Fruity asked no one in particular.

"Beats me." I added, not approaching the bodies. Fruity, on the other hoof, walked up to the corpses and began to root through what possessions they still held.

"What are you doing?" I gasped out in disgust.

Fruity looked up with a confused expression and then looked back down at the corpse that he had his hooves stuffed into the saddlebags of. "Taking their shit, what does it look like?" He deadpanned.

"Have you no respect for the dead?" I asked, shocked.

He looked confused again as he looked down at the dead raiders. "What, these guys?" He asked before giving off a soft laugh. "I'd piss and shit on their graves."

My mouth dropped open in absolute shock, I mean, how can he be so disrespectful to the dead?

"Crystal, these are Raiders. These guys are the worst of the worst, remember, they don't deserve respect. They would happy violate your dead corpse, believe me, I've seen it," He sighed as he finished looting from the raider and moved to the next. "In this world, looting the dead can mean the difference from life or death, the sooner you learn this and accept it the better it'll be, this is a harsh world as you've seen so far. It'll never be easy."

I opened my mouth to argue, but then closed it as I thought back to since I woke up in that stasis pod. He was right. I wasn’t going to like it but he was right about both things. "Alright." I said as I approached the bodies.

"Oh ho ho yeah, jackpot," Fruity suddenly yelled happily as he flipped the dead body of a mare over and pulled a slightly bloody MP12 Plasma Rifle off the floor. "Thank you raiders."

The raider at my hooves was a stallion and seemed to have had been armed with a Colt-Army .357 Revolver as one lay beside his corpse. Upon inspecting his body, I pulled his armour off his chest and found him riddled with small holes. My vision flashed red as squares began to appear and highlighted the multiple holes, in total thirty nine separate holes were punched into his chest. I heard a beep inside my head and then a report appeared in my vision. I swear this'll drive me mad one day.

"Analysis complete: Puncher wounds caused by anti-infantry ammunition of 5mm. Likely weapon of use, Ironshod XM214 Minigun" That doesn't sound good. What in here could possibly use such a mean sounding weapon? I looked at the other corpses and they all had multiple puncher wounds in their chests and lots of them. All the corpses also were facing the door which told me that whatever killed them was behind that door. A spark caught my attention from the card reader and it looked like it had been tampered with. I suppose the raiders tried to force their way through the door and probably triggered the security system since it was a security door.

"Apart from the Plasma Rifle, these guys had jack shit. Sure, there were a couple of pistols and a ton of drugs but nothing much useful," Fruity sighed as he pocketed the things he found on the other corpses while I pocketed what I found on the stallion. Beside the revolver I found a hooful of ammunition, a couple syringes of Med-X, a bottle of Buckout and something called Hydra.

"Wait a minute," I looked back up at Fruity who was now examining his salvaged rifle closely. "Ah bollocks, the trigger system's fucked." He slumped sadly. He shook his head and tore a long strip of fabric from one of the raider's armour to create a strap and tied it to both ends of the useless Plasma Rifle and slung onto his back.

"Why are you carrying it if its trigger won't work?" I asked.

He shrugged as he stood. "Could sell it to a merchant or if we're lucky we might find another one somewhere to repair this one with." Fair enough I suppose. Fruity walked up to the door and lifted a hoof to press at the terminal. Not good.

"Whoa wait," I cried out.

"Huh, what is it?"

"These guys," I said gesturing to the dead raiders. "They must have been tampering with the card reader and set off some sort of security. Whatever killed them came from behind that door."

The purple pegasus looked from the raiders and to the door a few times before backing away from the damaged card reader.

"So little miss zebra, what should we do while we wait for those geckos to bugger off?"

"Hmm, well we could explore this place, you never know we might find something useful," I suggested.

"Heh, better than doing nothing I guess."

I smiled softly, nodded and began to trot towards the open double doors in the far left of the room. The door opened up into what looked to be the beginning of a museum full of containers and barrels.

"What is this place?" Fruity asked with a raised eyebrow as he looked over the room.

"Um, the MASA Headquarters, a place that deals with space," I answered while also taking in the odd museum like room, I couldn't help the feeling of familiarity washing over me. It felt like I've been here before.

"Plasma?" Fruity questioned as he stepped up to an exhibit with several containers full of glowing liquid of different colours. "What does plasma have to do with space exploration?"

"I dunno." I replied and stepped into the museum. Suddenly a security shutter slammed down over the door, blocking our exit.

"What the hell?" Fruity cried as he spun around to face me.

I looked back in shock at how close that shutter had been on slamming down on my backside. "I think the security is still active…" I whimpered.

CLUNK!

We spun around to face the sudden sound and saw that a section of the far wall between two exhibits had moved back slightly.

"Now what?" Fruity asked as he rejoined me.

Just as soon as he finished his question the sunken wall segment slid to the side to reveal a secret compartment, which contained a big robot.

"F-Fruity, what is, what is that?" I whimpered fearfully.

Fruity's eyes widened in horror as they tracked pony robot moved into the museum. It looked like a robot pony painted in military green and mounted on a set of tracks and appeared to be armed with a minigun and a missile launcher. I guess we know what killed those raiders now.

"It's a Sentry Drone," Fruity whispered.

"That's bad isn't it?" I asked while feeling my knees start to quake. Fruity simply nodded in reply.

"Intruders detected, lethal force authorised." It droned out as it rolled out of its hidden room. Yep, definitely not good.

"SCATTER!" Fruity yelled suddenly and beat his wings hard, lifting off the floor and zipping out the door next to the robot leading deeper into the building.

"Fruity!" I cried out in shock and disbelief. The robot didn't follow the fleeing pegasus as its focus appeared to be solely on me.

"Priority target identified, Zebra scum." The machine droned out as its minigun began to spin.

"Oh no." I quickly dove behind an exhibit platform, which had a model of a mound of dirt with a bunch of small barrels sticking out of it. I slid on the dirty floor until I stopped behind the exhibit as the machine began to spray bullets wildly and at high speed around where I had been standing moments before. I held my head in my forehooves as the machine proceeded to destroy the exhibit with its hail of bullets while it turned to follow me. Oh Fruity, why did you leave me?

The hail of lead stopped and the sound of the machine's tracks grated against the floor as it began to move replaced the minigun's soundtrack. The bucket of bolts was after me! Whimpering in fear, I crouched as low as I could go and moved around the exhibit to stay out of the machine's field of view. I couldn't fight it, there was no way I could destroy it with Lucky 13 and its minigun and missile launcher would probably destroy my body before I could even get close to it. I have no idea how durable my endoskeleton after all so I can't risk going hoof to hoof with it. Oh Fruity, where are you?

I peeked around the next corner. I could see the door Fruity had flown off through and that the machine wasn't in my line of sight which meant it was now behind me. Suddenly, Fruity landed in the threshold of the door and he seemed to be holding a small cylindrical object in one of his wings.

"Hey, rust bucket!" Fruity yelled to get the robot's attention. "Catch!" He then unfurled his wing quickly and flung the object he held into the room and at the machine. "Crystal, run!"

Only one thing came to mind to what Fruity had thrown for him to yell at me to run and that was a grenade. I pushed myself up onto my hooves and began to run as fast as I could towards Fruity, my hooves slipped a few times on the dirty floor which threatened to trip me up as I ran. The machine's minigun began to fire again and I felt a round punch into my hind leg as I dove through the threshold. I crashed onto my stomach again when a bright blue flash filled my vision which was followed by a burst of crackling electricity. I pushed myself back up onto my hooves and winced at the biting pain in my injured leg and then I groaned as I had a sudden wave of vertigo, along with my eye sight flickering and momentarily going deaf.

"Warning, disruption field detected." Flashed into my vision in red.

Disruption field, what?

"Disruption field... Negative." Flashed again but in green. Whatever this Disruption Field is, it messed with the mechanics of my mechanical body.

"Hey, are you alright, you looked like you were gonna puke!" Fruity asked in concern and it was then I realised he was holding me with his forehooves on my shoulders.

I shook my head to clear myself of the sudden vertigo and looked at my concerned pegasus friend. "Ugh, yeah I'm fine. What did you do?" I asked, feeling concerned about whatever Fruity had used as whatever it was affected me as well.

He gave a cocky smile. "I just fried that bitch with a Disruption Grenade," I tilted my head in confusion since I didn't know what one of those was. His smile faded as he realised I didn't understand what he was talking about. "Oh right, stable po... err, zebra. It's basically a magic grenade that fries the electronics of machinery."

I had a sudden realisation, which I kept from making my eyes go wide. I didn't know what it was that Fruity had thrown, I had guessed it was a grenade but I didn't get that tingling feeling in the back of my head and the influx of knowledge that usually accompanied it. I suppose I don't know every weapon after all. Thank Celestia.

"Oh." I felt dread fill my heart at what one of those grenades could mean for me. If I were still in that room when that thing went off I'd likely be dead as one of those grenades could possibly shut my body down for good.

"Is that why you flew off on me?" I asked, sounding hurt.

He wilted slightly at the hurt in my voice. "Yeah, sorry. I knew had one and needed a moment to find it."

Looking back into the room, we saw that the robot had indeed been fried as it was standing in the middle of the room, leaning slightly to one side with all its weapons pointing to the floor and smoke seeping out of several places. The spent grenade's casing lay at its tracks. I definitely do not want to be anywhere near one of those things when they go off.

"Where did you get that anyway?" I asked.

"One of those raiders I searched had one funnily enough."

We approached the sealed door and began to examine the shutter that had come down when we entered the museum. It was one of those high security shutters that were designed to lock in place once down and strong enough to take severe punishment. These shutters were likely installed to prevent thefts from the museum, but the Sentry Drone…that seemed a little excessive.

"There is no way we are getting out through here, looks like we have to trek further into the building," Fruity sighed as we turned to find an alternate exit. "We get ourselves out of one mess and into another,"

"Tell me about it." I groaned as we entered the next room of the museum. This room held exhibits of model rockets, and tucked away in the far left corner, there appeared to be a display platform showing a large dome.

"Oooh?" Mused the pegasus, eyes alight as the details of the scale rocket models crossed his view.

I, however, was hit with another wave of familiarity. This was bugging me now. This place felt so familiar but I just couldn't place it. We trotted into the rocket exhibit, Fruity admiring the many models of rockets that had once been used to send satellites or ponies into space, while I, on the other hoof, was preoccupied with my sense of déjà-vu. I stopped, closed my eyes and shook my head trying to clear it. Upon opening my eyes I found myself standing before the dome and its exhibit tablet.

"MASA Test Site Launch Facility." My eyes widened as it suddenly clicked.

A group of fillies and colts crowded around the exhibits in an excited manner while their teacher tried and failed to get their attention or to get them to calm down while on their school trip to the MASA Headquarters' Public Museum Floor. There was, however just one pale pink filly who stood off to one side to be away from the hazards running amuck. Ever since her short tumble down a few steps at school which resulted in breaking her leg the filly kept a good distance from other fillies and colts that were moving quickly that could result in a crash or a bump into her and risk injuring her again. The teacher, a mulberry earth pony mare by the name of Cheerilee, groaned as she stood close to the pale filly.

"Why did I agree to substitute on my vacation?" She asked herself. "The little ponies back home were never this disobedient or obstructive."

The adult mare looked down at the young filly. "Are you doing ok, Crystal?" She asked with concern; she had been made aware of the filly's medical problems before the trip. The small pink filly nodded with a weak smile as she felt safer with the teacher. The mulberry mare turned around to the exhibit behind her. "Well, at least I can still teach one student," The mare said with a smile as she began to explain what the exhibit of the dome meant. "This is a model of the dome at the MASA Test Site a few miles south of here and..."

I blinked as the sudden flashback faded back to memory and looked down at the floor. A hundred and ninety five years ago, I stood here during a school trip. I smiled weakly at the reminder that I thankfully still had my memories after whatever happened to me.

"NO FUCKING WAY!" Fruity yelled suddenly. I squeaked in surprise and spun around to find him standing before a model of a rocket motor. "This engine is what the current Enclave Raptor propulsion engines are based on."

I joined my excited friend and looked down at the plaque sitting on its stand. "Revolutionary Plasma WRX-374 Rocket Motor..." The rest of the plague unfortunately was unintelligible.

"What's an Enclave Raptor?" I asked looking to my purple friend.

"Oh err, a flying battleship, pretty much," He replied hesitantly. That didn't sound good for the ground dwellers like us. "You... um, don't really need to, err, worry about those right now," That didn't exactly fill me with much confidence. "Shall we move on?" He said in more of a statement rather than a question as he turned away from the model and to a set of double doors and shutting down any chance to continue the Raptor conversation for now. Well I suppose any subject on the Enclave would be a sore topic for him considering what they did to him.

He pushed open the doors to reveal a room full of...

"ROBOTS!" I screamed and dove for cover behind the wall outside the room.

Fruity started to chuckle, which devolved into a full on hysterical laugh. I glared daggers at him as he laughed.

After a good minute he finally calmed down but continued to smirk. I pouted as he tried to regain his self control. "I'm sorry, but that... *snicker* was just hilarious,"

I hesitantly peeked around the door frame to see the room full of rusty old defunct robots of various models and purposes. I sighed with relief and looked back up at my still snickering pegasus friend and a light in my HUD caught my eye. Focusing on what caught my attention I realised it was my compass, but the light I saw was just a single white bar exactly where Fruity is standing. In that instant I internally facehoofed and felt embarrassed at my earlier reaction to seeing the robots as I had completely forgotten about my EFS and that the compass could identify friend from foe.

"I'm such a featherbrain," I groaned, actually facehooving this time.

"Huh?"

"I completely forgot about my EFS," I clarified.

"Oh, so, is it safe?" He asked, gesturing to the robot filled room with a wing.

I stepped back up to be at his side again and surveyed the room. The compass in my lower left vision shifted but remained empty of any threats but I had a niggling feeling that it wasn't going to be empty for long. "Seems clear." I said as I took the first step into the room.

The robots all looked old, well of course they were, like me they were all over a hundred and ninety years old but what I mean was, back in my time, these seem like old models of the robots we were familiar with now. To my left was a rather large four legged pony like robot with two huge miniguns that looks like a predecessor to the Sentry Drone we are very familiar with. One robot on the right towards the top corner looked like one of those spider leg like hovering bots and one robot sitting next to the open door on the right resembled a sprite-bot but what stood out the most about it was the ridiculously huge antenna sticking out its head that looked like the sort of antenna you'd see on a roof for catching television signals.

We entered the room and like when we first entered the museum, a security shutter slammed down behind us.

"Ah, son of a bitch!" Fruity exclaimed jumping forward and tucked his tail between his legs.

"Are you alright?" I asked, looking from him to the shutter and back.

"That bastard took a chunk out my tail." He whined. Sure enough when examining the shutter a little closer I could see a tuff of purple hair stuck under it.

CLUNK! CLUNK!

We froze and slowly turned our heads towards the back wall where two sections of the wall had shifted backwards between two display stands.

"I don't suppose you have any more of those grenades do you, Fruity?" I asked with fear gripping my words.

"Sorry, all out." He replied, looking just as nervous as I was.

The two sections of wall slid aside to reveal two Sentry Drones but only one of them seemed to be active as it rolled out of its hiding place. The other drone looked as defunct as the display robots.

"Intruder alert, engaging hostile targets."

"I don't have enough bullets for the two pistols I picked up to even do anything to that but you got plenty for that revolver of yours. You have a Pipbuck, so use SATS and shoot something vital, I'm gonna act as cannon fodder to give you a clear shot," Fruity said just as nervously as before.

"Are you insane?" I shrieked. "That thing will..."

"High priority target identified. Die you striped son of a bitch!"

"AHHHHH!" I screamed as the machine's twin miniguns opened up and I ran for the nearest cover which was a gap between the old model sentry and the wall. There was one thing I knew for certain right now, I HATE THIS PLACE.

"Oi, you glorified toaster, ya mother was a dish washer and your father was a rubbish compactor," Fruity yelled from somewhere above. Yeah, like throwing insults at a robot will get you a reaction, they don't have feelings. I could hear bullets now pounding into the display robot above me as the machine kept firing. "Hey, I'm talking to you." I just about heard over the roar of the miniguns a faint pop and suddenly the gunfire stopped.

"Armed target detected, threat priority target."

"Crystal, shoot it now!" Fruity yelled as he began to fly around to the room. The hulking robot had turned its back to me as I peeked out from behind my cover. Fruity was doing his best flying around the open space around the top of the room to keep the machine occupied. C'mon Crystal, he's giving you a chance. I grabbed the revolver from its holster and held it tightly in my mouth and looked to the machine nervously. I quickly stole a glance at my Pipbuck and then back at the robot and concentrated on the Stable-Tec Arcane Targeting Spell built into the device. Suddenly everything seemed to freeze as if time had stopped. Fruity was in the middle of doing a barrel roll while avoiding two streams of five millimetre bullets. The robot had turned slightly giving me a good view of one of its two miniguns and plenty of places to shoot. The robot became surrounded in a white aura and then separated into multiple segments, tracks, body, guns, head and a small square at the back of the machine's neck which when I focused on it said it was called the "Combat Inhibitor", well that looked important. It seemed I would also have a ninety five percent chance of hitting it which was good, I wasn't that far from it so I could understand the good chance but I wouldn't be surprised if my being a bio-mechanical zebra had anything to do with it also and poured all the action mana points I could into the spell. The spell queued up three shots and I ended the process and time began to flow again. I hope this works. Through the effects of SATS I pulled the trigger on Lucky 13 three times in quick succession, firing off three .357 magnum rounds and with my mechanical vision I was able to see two of the three bullets impact the small plate covering which shortly afterwards began to spark and fizz. I guess I hit something vital.

Fruity looped around when the machine's rapid gunfire cut out all of a sudden and landed back on the floor beside me. "You got it," He said with surprise.

"I hope so." I replied, while watching the machine as sparks began to fly from the damaged inhibitor. I have a bad feeling about this.

The panel covering the inhibitor suddenly blew off the machine with a puff of black smoke and the drone began to move and resume firing its guns. The drone was moving in random directions and shooting anywhere, both its miniguns were aiming in entirely different directions, not practically aiming at anything really, just firing randomly, the thing was going completely crazy.

"Err, what did you shoot?" Fruity asked as we dove for cover behind the same prototype sentry drone model as I did earlier.

"Um, the Combat Inhibitor," I answered.

Fruity facehoofed and groaned. "Oh ponyfeathers, that thing will be on total rampage,"

"Give me a break, I've only been in the wasteland for the best part of a day or two," Fruity opened his mouth to retort and I suspected he'd mention the week on the train. "The train ride don't count," I quickly added to which he shut his mouth. "So, what do we do now?"

"We make a break for the Planetarium..." He said while gesturing to the door with a sign hanging from the ceiling saying Planetarium. "...with it going barmy it won't focus on us, too busy pissing bullets at the walls or ceiling to care about us," He moved around to the other side closer to the left wall where the only open door in the room sat. "Just gotta time it right."

I rose up slightly so I could see over the display platform. The drone was crashing into the other exhibits while it continued to fire. It drove into another stand and ground its tracks as if it was trying to push the stand. Fruity tugged on my foreleg, getting my attention and then nodded to the door. Sharing a nod we quickly ran for it. Unfortunately, the machine got itself unstuck and turned around firing.

"Oh fuck!" Fruity cried as he dropped when we ran through the door.

I let out a pained cry as I felt several pains bite into my flanks as the machine's bullets found a target, but thankfully only a few hit, though it still hurt. As soon as we were both through the door, another shutter slammed down locking us in the planetarium. We held our breaths for a short while, waiting for the clunking sound that usually accompanies the shutters but this time around there wasn't one. We both let out a sigh of relief and slumped to the floor while we could still hear the drone behind the shutter going nuts.

"Hey, you good?" Fruity asked?

"Hmm, I think it got me," I replied with a groan.

"Where?"

"My butt,"

"Mind if I have a look?"

"I beg your pardon?" I cried out, my face tinged with a blush as I couldn't believe he just asked that.

"Whoa, hey, I meant the wound, not your plot," He said waving his forelegs defensively. "I swear,"

I eyed him for a moment before turning my head again and groaned. "Ok." I said, trusting his word.

I felt the long coat of my duster being shifted off my flanks, bringing a fresh wave of pain as the movement of fabric irritated the bullet wounds which made me grit my teeth and hiss.

"Damn girl, you got ten holes in your ass," Fruity said sounding impressed. "Getting shot in the ass ten times would put even a big stallion like that prick Biceps down for good, you are lucky," Luck has nothing to do with it Fruity. "The wounds don't look that bad, a healing potion should take care of that, oh and the hole in your leg too, I'm surprised you could walk and run without the pain driving you mad,"

"I got a high pain threshold," I threw out there, hoping he'd accept it.

"Hah, no shit." He laughed before an ominous moaning sound echoed throughout the large open room. The Planetarium was a huge room painted black and speckled with white dots to simulate stars and in the middle hanging from the ceiling was a model of the Equus Solar System. The large orange sun was the only source of illumination in the room. I smiled to myself as this room looked exactly the same as the last time I saw it as a little filly.

"What in the fuck was that?" Fruity asked fearfully as he looked around for the source of the moaning noise.

"Don't worry, it's the ambient music for this room, a whale song I believe, was suppose to give a sense of atmosphere," I replied automatically as I stood back up started for a blue door I saw on the other side of the room while also fishing out a healing potion from my duster's pocket.

"How do you know that?" I froze, Oh Celestia I can't believe I blew my trap like that (By trap I meant my mouth). I need to think fast, um...

"I read it in an old magazine once in my Stable's old stores," I quickly responded. I felt so bad lying to him.

"Ok." He said slowly. Oh no, he doesn't believe me. I held my breath while I expected him to question me further but nothing came. He either accepted it or has decided to let it slide for now. Oh, I want to tell him the truth, I really do but I'm so scared of what the outcome would be. I don't want the only pony I've come to like see me as a machine or a monster. I shivered at the thought of losing him to my condition.

The blue door opened up to a stairwell, it was dark inside. That's never a good sign.

BANG!

"Now what?" Fruity whined as we whirled around.

Surveying the star speckled walls in the planetarium, it was nearly impossible to see where the corners of the room were or if the room itself was square but thankfully the dull light from the model sun reveal a section of wall that was slightly bowed out thanks to it being oddly shaded.

"Oh come on, just how many drones does this place have?" Fruity cried out in annoyance. I shared his annoyance. Why did this place have such things for museum security? It just felt a little overkill for that. I guess we now knew why we didn't hear the clunking sound like before, the door for this drone failed to open.

"Apparently a lot," I deadpanned as another bang rung out and the bowing section of wall slid out a little more. "C'mon, let's keep moving before it sees us."

The purple stallion nodded and we made our way inside the stairway. I reached out with my tail, wrapping the hairs around the door handle and pulled the door closed quietly as not to alert the robot where we are and... I stopped and blinked as I looked back at the now closed door to see my tail wrapped around the handle. A flash back to my nightmare flashed into my head, where I used my tail to grab a hold of the Crystal Heart thanks to something in my tail hairs. Nano-Fibres! If it's true, I have Nano-Fibres then, could that mean... Oh sweet mother of Luna please no, that nightmare couldn't have been real, it just couldn't.

I was brought out of my horrible thoughts as Fruity knocked on my metal forehead. "Hello, Equus to Crystal are you there?" He asked and waved his hoof in front of my eyes.

"Huh, what?"

"You spaced out on me there, are you ok?" He asked in concern.

"Yeah I'm fine," I replied with an obviously fake Pinkie Pie smile as I headed up the stairs and into what looked like a control room of sorts.

"Crystal, you can tell me if something is bothering you, you know, I want to help, your my friend," Damn it Fruity, stab me in the heart why don't you. Ohhh, I really want to tell you what's wrong but I... I can't.

"I'm fine really, I think this wasteland is getting to me, I, um, have spent my life, err, in isolation after all," Poor response there Crystal, poor response.

"Alright, but please, don't bottle it up, it'll drive ya nuts."

I nodded and smiled at him. The control room was dark and wasn't much to look at as most of the room was made up of rusty machinery and a couple of control panels. Unfortunately it wasn't the sort of control room I was hoping it would be, by that I mean security. This room was most likely the control room for the Planetarium.

"Whoa, watch out!" Fruity said as he bit down on my tail and yanked me back slightly, making me cry out from the sudden pain at the tug.

"Ow, hey," I whined, shaking my tail once he released it.

"Sorry, but you nearly stepped on a dead body," Fruity responded bluntly.

"I what?" I shrieked and jumped back. Sure enough, slumped against one control panel lay a long dead skeleton of a pony which still wore the tatters of what had once been a MASA jumpsuit. I looked over the skeleton in horror as it brought back memories of my first day outside of that stasis chamber. No, pull yourself together Crystal. I shook my head to jar the horrible memories away. With a clearer head I noticed something under the hoof that was resting on the control panel. "Hey, I see something under its hoof."

Fruity looked over to the skeleton and clocked onto what I had seen and fluttered over the bones to land on the control panel and gently, as to not disturb the skeleton too much, pulled the flat red object from under its hoof.

"You'll never guess what I just found," Fruity said in bafflement.

"What, the security key?" I asked with a hint of sarcasm.

"Eeyup," I gave him a disbelieving look. "No seriously, look," The pegasus flapped his wings and jumped over the skeleton and landed gracefully in front of me holding the small red card by his teeth. He wasn't kidding, the card was indeed a security key. According to the card it was an Lv2 Security Key. Huh, what were the chances of finding the security key in this place just lying there for anyone to see? Ten to one, hundred to one, million to one?

"We'll likely need that, keep a hold of it Fruity." I said with a smile at the stroke of good luck. He nodded and tucked the card into one of his duster's pockets.

We approached the only door in the room and Fruity pulled the door open. He immediately balked and gagged as he stumbled backwards away from the door. However before I could ask what was wrong I found out. The smell that came through the open door was overwhelming. It was a reminder of my first waking hours in the wasteland when surrounded by death. The stench of rotting flesh.

"Holy... ugh, damn, who died?" Fruity whined.

"Everypony," I deadpanned.

"What I'd give for a peg right about now." Fruity said to himself as we entered the hallway of what looked to be the office floor for the MASA HQ from the style of the deteriorated decor.

We chose a direction at random and began to trot quietly down the hall to the right. I took note of Fruity's ears, which were twitching every so often and moving around as if listening out for anything out of the ordinary and I found myself subconsciously doing the same. The second floor was very dark and dank, perfect for hidden horrors to lurk. I quickly glanced down to the bottom left of my HUD and balked for a second at the number of red bars filling the compass.

We stopped as we came to a T-junction, to the left the hallway would take us deeper into the building but according to the sign on the wall, the path to the right would take us to some stairs that would lead us to the lobby as the sign shown "Lobby" with an arrow pointing down the right path.

There was suddenly a crash, and the sound of breaking would and the sound of something being thrown hard and striking something somewhere in the building. Maybe that rampaging sentry just broke something.

"Let's just get the hell out of here." Fruity said and we quickly began to trot towards the stairs. Our hopes of finding our way back down died when we came to the stairs. The stairs were completely filled in with rubble which looked to have fallen through the ceiling. "Ah, bollocks!" Fruity whined.

My threat warning flashed into my vision and that was quickly followed by a hideous hissing growl from down the hall. We whirled around to see a pony stumble into view. No, wait, it wasn’t a pony, it was a ghoul.

"Z...z...zombie," I whimpered stepping back as the undead creature turned to face us, its lifeless dead eyes boring into mine. It opened its hole riddled mouth, its broken and rotten yellow teeth being put on show as it let out a lifeless but feral roar and began to approach us at a quick trot. I suppose with how degraded its body was, the zombie couldn't manage much more than that.

"Cr...Crystal, you, you gotta shoot it," Fruity urged as he pulled his serrated combat knife from its sheath on his left foreleg.

"B...but it's a... a zombie," I whimpered fearfully, my knees shaking with my fear.

"It's a feral ghoul, it was once a pony like me and you, you gotta kill it, you'd be doing that poor soul a favour by putting it down, now shoot it, the quicker you learn this shit the better we'll be in the wasteland." Fruity yelled over the mouth grip of his knife.

He was right, this wasn't the semi-peaceful world I grew up in. It was a horrible and violent world full of monsters and bad ponies and other nasty things that'll likely kill you if you look at them funny. But, would I still be a good pony, or Zebra, if I kill, could I still be good if I kill others to survive? We'll find out in the future...

I pulled Lucky 13 from its holster and clamped my jaws around the grip. The monster by now was only a few feet from us and I had no alternative so I steeled my nerves and pulled the trigger repeatedly, until the hammer of the revolver was hitting empty chambers. All but one of my shots hit the undead pony. My enhanced vision caught the impacts of the five .357 magnum rounds as they punched into the ghoul. One in the chest, one in the shoulder, one in the neck and two in the head to which its skull exploded in a shower of gore which disgustingly enough, speckled me with bits of rotting brain matter.

"Eww, get it off, get it off!" I shrieked in a rather girly fashion.

"Hold still," Fruity commanded. I closed my eyes and didn't move, too creeped out to consider moving and not wanting to dislodge the rotting organic matter now speckled all over my face. A shiver ran down my spine when I felt Fruity delicately use his wing to brush at my face, his surprisingly soft feathers flicking away the bits that landed on me. His wing also brushed over my hat as I could hear the feather grinding against the rough fabric of the old Stetson. "There, all better,"

"Thank you." I sighed with relief but internally I had conflicting emotions about what I just did. A part of me was mortified that I just killed something but a primal part of me was glad I did. This is going to take a while to get used to and I've not fully gotten used to my mechanical body yet either as it keeps springing something new upon me.

I sat on my haunches and held Lucky 13 in one forehoof while I pushed out the cylinder with the other and then tipped the gun vertically so the spent shells could fall to the floor. Once the cylinder was empty, I reached into one of the deep pockets of my duster where I had put all the ammo I had acquired. Focusing on the item sorting spell in the pipbuck with my mind I willed the .357 magnum rounds to the top. I felt my hoof collide with a speed loader and upon pulling it out, I found that it had six bullets arranged so that I could push all six in at once. Thankful that I wasn't going to have to manually put each bullet in the cylinder one by one, I inserted the bullets and pushed the plunger so all six bullets were deposited into the revolver and then put the loader back into my pocket and snapped the gun closed now fully reloaded and then put that back into its holster.

"We're gonna need to find another way out," Fruity sighed with a hint of annoyance in his voice. "There's gotta be another way down."

I nodded my agreement and we began up the corridor, deeper into the building.

The second floor was a right mess. As we walked the halls, we saw that some walls had collapsed giving us easy access into other office spaces or the rest rooms, to which the back wall to one of the toilets had collapsed, opening a way into a room with a computer.

I was still taken aback with the level of damage everything had taken from nearly two hundred years of no maintenance. This was still a big change for me considering everything I remembered was pristine and intact. So much had changed. I sighed deeply as again I was reminded that I was no longer in the world I knew.

As we walked the halls and explored the offices while we tried to find our way out, we encountered more ghouls. Some of these undead monsters I was able to see in some of the still working lights and was able to see that they were wearing the remnants of what used to be their uniforms. They used to work here. Fruity was right, killing them is the best thing we can do for them. Fruity reminded me while we explored that a Feral Ghoul is a Ghoul who had lost their mind completely. How bad could it be too loose yourself, to feel you mind slipping? After thinking about it more and with those reasoning's, the most equine thing to do is to put them down. We did encounter a few more as we moved deeper and killing them got easier after each one. Deep down I was scared about that because I could feel a part of me that seemed to enjoy it, the thrill of the battle or the use of a firearm. What scared me more about that though is that I didn’t know if it was ME or the MACHINE since part of my brain is synthetic. I still didn't know just what had been done to me, for all I knew whoever built me could have programmed me to like violence. That in itself was a horrifying possibility.

We covered about half the second floor before we found a way up to the third floor. We opened a door to what looked like a staff room as there were lockers against one wall, a fridge next to the door and a table in the middle of the room. However the ceiling to most of the room had collapsed, crushing a lot of what was already in here to begin with and a section of the fallen ceiling made a ramp up to a door in the room above but to get to it we would have to get through three more ghouls.

"Just how many of you buggers are there?" Fruity asked rhetorically.

I groaned as I pulled Lucky out of its holster. I had used thirty bullets since we got here and I was down to my last three speed loads of six bullets. I could hit a stationary target no problem, but a moving target, whole different thing.

"I got the one on the right." Fruity said as he branded his bloodied knife and flew at a ghoul who hadn't noticed us yet.

I nodded and took aim at the closer of the remaining two ghouls and fired two shots. Both shots missed by a mile as the bony ghoul limped and turned to face me. The ghoul opened its mouth to let out its bellow and I fired another two rounds. The first grazed the bony remains of the ghoul's nose but the second bullet flew into the ghoul's decayed mouth and blew the creature's brains out the back of its head. The ghoul collapsed into a heap on the rubble strewn floor with a massive hole in the back of its head. I cringed at the horrible sight, my lapse in concentration allowed the last ghoul to gain ground and I failed to notice the flashing warning light in my EFS until it was too late.

I felt a heavy thud collide with my side, making me stumble sideways a little but failed to knock me over or really hurt for that matter. "Crystal watch..." Fruity tried to yell in warning but stopped as he was too late. The ghoul lay on the floor and looked to be in a daze. I would be an all if I crashed into eight hundred pounds of thinly padded steel. "...out." He finished lamely as he pulled the knife out of the neck of the ghoul he attacked.

"You must be built like a tank to not get knocked down after taking a tackle like that." Fruity remarked in astonishment. I inwardly cringed at how close he was to describing what I could be inside.

My ears perked up as I heard the ghoul shifting behind me as it struggled to pull itself back up onto its broken hooves.

I sighed. "Sit down." I groaned and kicked out with my left hind leg. I didn't try to restrain myself so I think my body put every ounce of mechanical strength into the kick as I heard a wet tearing sound followed by a spurting of liquid shortly after my hoof connected with the ghoul's chin. Fruity's mouth dropped, and if this was a cartoon, it would probably have hit the floor and rolled out the door with how he held his mouth open in shock surprise. His shock prompted me to look at the ghoul and I gasped at what I saw, at what I did. My kick not only broke the ghoul's neck, it tore its head clean off its shoulders and kicked it clear across the room. That explained the wet tearing and liquid spurting noises. Dear goddesses, just how much strength did my endoskeleton possess?

"What?" I cried as Fruity was still gawking.

He shook his head to recover from the shock of my kicking a ghoul's head off. "Dude, I knew you zebras were strong but, fuck me!"

"We fall in the same category as Earth Ponies so we have superior natural strength," I think...

"Remind me to never piss you off, I don't I could handle you giving me a slap," He said with a smirk as he passed me to move towards the ramp.

"Oh har har."

The pegasus slowly walked up the incline to the door at the top. I, on the other hoof, stopped at the foot of the ramp. The broken section of roof didn't look safe or sturdy and with my weight it would certainly give way.

"Um, Fruity, that doesn't look safe." I called up to him.

The pegasus jiggled the door knob and then moaned in annoyance. "Blast, locked," He let go of the door and slid down the steep broken floor to the ground before me without turning around so he was still facing the broken ramp. There was suddenly a loud crumbling crack and the ramp seemed to split in half one half fell level to the floor while the other remained flush with the wall as it slid down. "Oh, piece of candy." He said seeing a shiny object on the collapsed section of floor and stepped up back onto the broken floor. The crumbling sound continued and my warning system flashed again. I looked up to see the other half starting to fall over and it would crash down on Fruity.

"Fruity look out!" I cried and acting on instinct, I grabbed him by his tail and yanked him back.

"Yeow!" The stallion cried as I tugged on his tail.

BANG! The broken segment slammed down where Fruity was standing moments before, kicking up a huge dust cloud that had us both choking.

"You *cough* saved my *hack* life," He coughed out.

"Hmm, you've *cough* saved me before, it's *cough* bout time I saved you *hack* for once."

He gave a grateful smile as we left the ruined the staffroom and continued on our way trying to find a way out. We turned a corner and stopped as we saw a fluorescent green light at the end of the hallway. I got a bad feeling from that light when it appeared to be moving and then my pipbuck's Geiger counter started to tick.

"Um, Fruity, my pipbuck's started to tick, is that bad?" I asked unsure.

"If it’s ticking, then there must be magical radiation in here,"

"But this is a space agency, what could they use that would be radioactive?"

"No idea, but there are ghouls in here so that could mean..." He trailed off as he looked down the hall fearfully.

"Mean what?" I asked shakily. As if to answer my question, a Feral Ghoul stalked out from around the corner and was apparently the source of the light as the ghoul was glowing as if it was a nightlight.

"Fruity, what the hell is that?"

"A Glowing One," He replied.

I turned and looked at him with a disbelieving raised eyebrow. "Seriously?"

"Hey, it's not like I named it, that's what everypony calls those glowing ones." He defended.

The ghoul reminded me of a villain from the old Batmare Beyond cartoons as it looked so much like a radioactive villain from the show who was called "Blight" and not to mention its skeleton was clearly visible, silhouetted by its glowing form, giving the creature a more terrifying appearance.

"What do we do?"

"Why don't you punch it?" Fruity suggested. "That kick worked well on the other ghoul."

It would save using up what little bullets I have left and well, being mostly machine has its benefits. I took a deep breath as I started to approach the glowing ghoul that, for the moment, was busy admiring the cracked plaster wall in front of it.

"Hey, wait, Crystal! I wasn't being serious." Fruity gasped out.

I didn't think he was but it was either run out of ammo and likely get mauled to death or make good use of my mechanised body. At least I could put my body to good use this way and defend my best friend, yeah, best friend. Fruity had been the only pony I've been able to grow close too who wasn't part of my family.

The ghoul turned its head to look at me after it finally noticed me. It opened its glowing mouth and let out hungry roar as it charged at me, faster than I was expecting. My threat warning flashed and I ducked to avoid a swipe from a foreleg it raised to hit me with at the last second. The creature skidded passed me as it missed but turned around quickly to come back in for another attempt. I reared up onto my hind legs and focused on the ghoul's head. As my gaze focused on the ghoul a reticule appeared around its head as if I was locking onto it. The creature came in close for a tackle and when the reticule flashed red, I brought my full weight down on the monster. I was surprised at the timing as my hooves drove into the creature's skull and with my weight I pushed it down to the floor. The glowing monster was still alive however, helplessly squirming under my hefty weight. I placed a forehoof onto the creature's back to keep it down while I raised the other, putting as much strength as I could into the leg, I could feel the control rods and servos tensing up as it built up tension before I then brought my hoof down on the creature's head. The impact pulverised its head, leaving a messy mush beneath my hoof.

"EWWW!" I cried in disgust.

"I ain't cleaning your hoof with my feathers this time." Fruity said while cringing at the glowing bits of brain stuck to my hoof.

"Eww," I whined as I began to drag my hoof across the old carpet like you would if you stood in dog crap. "I hate this place." I muttered loudly.

Fruity nodded his agreement as we continued down the corridor to get away from the radiation emitting from the dead ghoul. The corridor ended with a door to which we opened to check inside as it was our only way forward. What we saw inside stunned us. Not because it was a massive mess, not because we saw more ghouls, not because there was no floor, but because the room was completely out of place and totally unexpected. We stood in the doorway to the large room gazing out around the area, taking in all we could see. There were tables and workbenches piled high with pieces or energy based weapons, computer terminals on some of the tables with filing cabinets dotted about the place, and covering the walls were old deteriorated diagrams.

"What the hell is this?" Fruity asked in bafflement as he gestured to the whole room with a wing.

I slowly scanned the room, taking in everything on the walls and lying around on the tables and workbenches. As my eyes focused on several of the items, reticules appeared telling me what I was looking at. I saw plasma triggers, magical conductors, firing mechanisms, charge capacitors, focus optic lenses, pretty much everything needed to build an energy weapon and the diagrams on the walls, with what remained of them I deduced to being weapon schismatic's.

"Looks like some sort of weapon's research and development,"

"Where are we again?" Fruity asked trying to understand the room.

"Um, the MASA Headquarters," I replied while looking at my pipbuck map again just to be sure.

"And that is?"

"Err, a space exploration and um... monitoring agency...," I paused trying to think if there was more to it than that but shrugged when nothing came to mind. "I think," I added sounding a little unsure.

"Then what's all this?" The stallion asked unable to understand the weapons R&D room. "It makes no sense, what does any of this have to do with space?"

"I don't know, but I have a feeling we are going to find out." I said as I began to look around at the various parts and schematics.

We began to look around the room. Fruity quickly got over the shock of the unexpected room and seemed to be in hog’s heaven as he picked up and pocketed most of the still good pieces of energy weapon components until he found what he could use to fix the Plasma Rifle on his back.

"Oh sweet, a trigger system compatible for the MP12 Plasma Rifle." He cried out happily and pocketed the piece. "I'll be fixing you later," He said to his slung rifle.

"I'm sure you could build your own gun out of all this stuff,"

"Hah, I wish, I'm not that technical," He laughed. I smiled as I looked over to him as he pulled the top off a metal crate and then screamed out in happy surprise, which made me jump. "HOLY FUCKING SHIT, I HIT THE MOTHER LOAD,"

"What?" I asked after recovering from his sudden shout.

"Micro Manna Cells, lots of them." He smiled as he began to pluck each and every MMC out the box. "Oh wow, fifteen cells, that's three hundred shots worth of power cells,"

"Now you can assist in shooting something,"

"Once I repair this thing, I'll be back on my game," He smiled as he looked back at his Plasma Rifle. His smile faded as he regarded his rifle. "Wait, this is a newer model, aww damn, this requires twice as much juice to fire than the ones I used before. This ammo stockpile I found is only good for half the shots I mentioned with this rifle," He sighed.

"Still a lot."

He shrugged before he resumed his scavenging. While Fruity was making a mess with his scavenging, I looked into the filing cabinets. I found a lot of old pulped up paper and documents that were either too deteriorated to read or were so technical I couldn't make sense of them. After checking a few drawers, I opened a drawer that held a single red plastic folder. Curious, I pulled it out and opened it. Inside it held a sheet of paper that looked like to be some sort of signed agreement or official document as the seal for Princess Luna was still visible in the top left corner. Sadly, the elements had deteriorated the document enough that it was illegible in some areas. The first couple of paragraphs were readable and talked about the success of the Plasma powered rocket engine. The last paragraph that was still readable talked about the manufacture of plasma based weapons as a side project to better benefit the Equestrian soldiers.

"I think I know why there is a weapons lab here," I said while re-reading what was still legible on the document.

"Oh?"

"Err, from this, it looks like the government was impressed with that plasma rocket engine we saw downstairs and wanted them to build weapons based on it."

"Oh, well, I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case, the Enclave liked to get their hooves into everypony's business." He replied bitterly. Yeah, the pre-war government bought into a lot of things that would produce new weapons. It seemed Luna wanted nothing more than the complete annihilation of the enemy.

The second door in the room opened up into another hall way that had a T-junction, the connecting corridor branched off somewhere to the left and the path up ahead also turned a corner going left as well.

"How is it looking out there?" Fruity asked as he joined me.

"Clear." I replied and we cautiously began up the corridor.

As we drew closer to the T-junction a small green and white sign on the wall made me smile, the sign was a fire exit sign. I quickened my pace, eager to get to the fire exit door and get out of this hell hole. My face instantly dropped as we looked down the corridor, it was filled to the ceiling with rubble, just like the stairs to the lobby. I grit my teeth in anger at having our hope of a possible escape being shot down yet again and screamed with the combined stress.

"I HATE THIS FUCKING PLACE!"

"She can swear!" Fruity exclaimed and then started to laugh. "Haha, ohhh, I've been waiting all week for you to finally curse at something,"

I blushed with embarrassment from losing my temper. "I'm sorry, I wasn't brought up to be foul mouthed." That just made him laugh harder, which increased my feeling of embarrassment.

"Haha, oh come now Crys, this is the wasteland, every fucker swears fifty times before breakfast," Fruity laughed. We continued down the corridor and to the left hoof turn. "You should curse more often, it'll help relieve stress and all that."

"Really?" I asked sceptically.

"Eeyup, helps when you vent your emotions and stuff,"

"How does that work?" I asked as we came to the corner and we continued up the corridor.

Fruity turned and gave me a slightly annoyed expression. "What do I look like, a psychiatrist?"

"Sorry," I apologised with my ears wilting.

"Hey don't worry about." He said with a soft smile and petted my withers with his wing as we came to a flight of intact stairs going up.

Fruity walked up the stairs first with me taking up the rear, going slowly. The stairs may have been intact but they were old and deteriorated to a point and my heavy weight was causing them to groan loudly. Couldn't they have built my body out of something lighter?

We stepped out into a wide landing with two open doors ahead of us and next to the door for the stairs we just came up we saw a rusty metal door for a lift. Holding onto a little hope, but highly doubting it, I walked up to the lift and pressed the call button. Predictably, nothing happened.

"Wow, somepony had an explosive shit." Fruity joked as he stood looking into the mare toilets. Stepping up to his side I saw what he had seen. All the cubicle dividers were blown down against one another and away from the centre toilet and the back wall had been blown down into a room that looked like it contained the building's mainframe. The funny thing about this scene however was that the toilet itself was completely intact and it succeeded in bringing out a chuckle.

After a brief look around and the emptying of two medical kits, we found still attached to the walls we deduced we had no other option but to go through the hole in the toilet wall and into the mainframe room. The room held a huge cube like computer system that did seem to still be working and little else save for a safe tucked away in the far corner. Unfortunately, neither of us had a bobby pin so we couldn't pick the lock and quite frankly, I didn't want to waste anymore time in here by messing around with a safe. Not to mention I don't know the first thing about picking a lock.

We pushed open a pair of double doors that opened up into a very spacious office that looked like the floor was about to go, as the carpet was in tatters and the floorboards were broken in several places and the centre of the room had sunk down slightly. Fruity flapped his wings and hovered over the damaged floor while I cautiously walked around the more sturdy outer edge, keeping close to the wall while also avoiding the filing cabinet that would have threatened to make me step onto the damaged area.

"This place is just getting worse." I moaned as we came to another set of double doors and pushed them open.

On the other side, a surprise awaited us. Hovering a few feet from the door to the office we just left was a ball like robot with three spider like limbs, three ball like optical units on extendable arms and a thruster mounted to the bottom of it keeping it in the air. I vaguely remember seeing this model of robot in the Stable-Tec inventory as a Mr Hoofty personal assistant. To see one here and still functioning was indeed a surprise.

The machine seemed to have noticed us as it turned around and regarded us. Thankfully, its tag in my EFS was showing up as white, meaning it was a non-hostile.

"Third floor is for executives only, please identify." It buzzed.

Oh no.

"Shit." Fruity said out loud.

"Pass phrase incorrect,"

"Damn it,"

"Pass phrase incorrect,"

"Fruity shut up," I cried but then immediately shoved my hoof into my mouth and groaned at my own stupidity.

"Pass phrase incorrect.... Intruder alert, intruder alert..." The machine began to blare out loudly.

We had found ourselves in a wide hallway, to our right was the end as it was just a wall, to our left the hall branched off to the right. As the Mr Hoofty began sounding the alarm, a section of the wall beside us sunk back with a loud clunk.

"Oh not these guys again." Fruity and I whined in unison and as the wall began to slide away to reveal the Sentry Drone on the other side, we tore down the hall and ran around the corner before the drone could have left its birth.

"Fruity, it just occurred to me why we ran into Sentry Drones downstairs," I said as we entered another small landing with a door and a lift.

"Oh yeah?"

"That weapons lab downstairs," I panted.

"Huh, you're right, it makes sense now."

CLUNK!

We whirled around to the right of the lift and door as a section of wall sunk back.

CLUNK!

We whirled around to the wall on the left as it sunk back as well.

"Oh for fuck sake." Fruity whined and before we could say hello to tons of robot and bullets, we crashed through the door and fell rather unceremoniously down a flight of stairs.

"Uhhh, are you ok?" I groaned, laying on my belly with my legs splayed out and aching all over from the tumble.

"Surprisingly yeah, I had something rather soft to land on." Fruity said as he picked himself up into a sitting position and it was then I realised he was sat on my rump.

"You can get off me now," I moaned as the pain started to subside.

"Nah, you are rather comfy." Fruity laughed.

I rolled my eyes and stood up which made him loose his balance and fall off my rear and onto his back.

"A little warning next time." He whined.

I replied by sticking my tongue out playfully. However, my playful expression soured to that of disgust as the rotten smell from before returned with a vengeance.

We found ourselves now in a long corridor, the end of which however I could see was filled with rubble. Another T-junction was up ahead about half way up the hall and past it I could see two doors. With little choice as to where to go from here we began to walk up the corridor. As we drew closer to the junction we began to hear the sounds of hissing and laboured breathing. My threat warning was glowing a constant red right now and my EFS had a few targets clustered together on the right which put them in the hall down from the junction. We stopped as we came to the junction and cautiously, we peeked around the corner. I had to cover my mouth to stop myself from letting out a gasp. The hall had six Feral Ghouls standing in it and in the distance behind them I could see more milling about, it was like we just stumbled into a horde of zombies.

"If it's not one problem, it’s several," Fruity quietly moaned.

"No point moaning about it, let's get to those doors, quietly." I stressed. Fruity nodded and we crouched low and began to slowly creep our way passed the junction and up the corridor.

The floor boards creaked and groaned under our hoof steps, mine more than his, but thankfully the ghouls didn't notice the creaking over their own movements. As we drew closer to the doors one of them turned out to be a door to an office while the other was a blue security door with a card reader like the door next to the lobby.

*CRACK!*

My hoof went through a rotted floor board. "Oh no," I whined.

A ghoul let out a raspy moan from down the corridor. We looked back fearfully, my heart was pounding in my throat as a shadow began to move into the corridor.

"Fruity, cardkey," I whimpered as I pulled my hoof out of the floor.

"Huh?"

I nodded to the blue door. "Oh..."

A ghoul stepped into the corridor and looked around before its dead gaze settled on us and it opened its broken mouth and let out its disturbing roar.

"Quickly please." I urged as I backed up towards him as he plucked the card from his pocket and went to swipe it in the card reader.

The ghoul's roar had alerted its brethren and before long, we had ten to twelve ghouls slowly approaching us. Oh Celestia this is more terrifying than the robots. Then there was a sound that sounded like heaven had just granted us access as the door lock released as it accepted the security card.

"Quickly, inside." Fruity urged as he threw the door open. I didn't need to be told twice and quickly bolted through the door as the ghouls roared in hunger and charged.

We found ourselves in an office with no way out, but for the moment, we had worse things to worry about and once we were both inside we slammed the door shut. However fate decided it would be funny with us and now the door was stuck in a permanent open state. The cardkey had opened the door but now there was no lock to keep the door closed. Thinking quickly, I ran over to a filing cabinet that was devoid of its drawers.

"Crystal what are yo..." He began to complain as he held the door closed but he clocked onto what I was doing as I began to drag the cabinet over to the door to barricade it. Fruity quickly jumped away from the door as I gave the cabinet a shove to knock it over. The Ghouls reached the door just as Fruity jumped away from it, and then the door got slammed back into their faces as the hefty cabinet crashed against the door and held it closed. We breathed a sigh of relief as the ghouls banged on the door but failed to budge the cabinet.

"Ain't this ironic, we came in this building to get away from the geckos, and now we’re trapped in here to get away from the ghouls." Fruity sighed as he began to pace.

I didn't say anything; there was nothing to say that would better our situation or to lighten the mood. I hung my head as I trotted for a corner desk to sit down on the chair still beside it. I got to about the centre of the room when all of a sudden the floor sagged with a deep rumble and a crack. I looked up at Fruity with fearful eyes at what was about to happen and suddenly I was free falling, for about a second, and crashed into the hard floor below me with plaster and bits of wood raining down all over me as the crumbling floor above collapsed.

"Holy shit, Crys!" Fruity yelled and jumped down the hole after me. Being a pegasus, jumping off things didn't bother him at all. He landed on the floor beside me and started to push pieces of wood and broken plaster off me. "Shit, are you alright?"

"I'm fine, I landed on my butt." I moaned as I flopped onto my back and groaned. I was in fact hurting all over. That hard impact with the floor had rattled my entire body, and my vision had alerted me to a half dozen minor faults regarding my rear legs, but thankfully, the repair system had kicked in almost instantly to ensure my legs remained functioning but I still felt like I had just smashed a metal bar with a cricket bat. You know the feeling when you accidently hit something solid at full force and it sends a wave of pain rushing through your mouth or forelegs, depending on how you used the bat.

"Where are we?" I asked sitting up.

"Umm, I dunno, looks like some sort of store room." He replied as he began to look around.

I moaned in discomfort as I pulled myself to my hooves. I found myself facing a corner with a terminal mounted to the wall, damaged by the fallen ceiling and a heavy duty security door. The kind of security door with locking clamps. Great, still trapped.

"Oh sweet!" Fruity cried out in excitement.

"Huh, what is it?" I asked, my ears perking up.

Fruity happily fluttered out from behind the collapsed ceiling carrying a Plasma Rifle in his forehooves. The one he now held was brown in colour and seemed to have an extra three knobs on the top.

"It's a prototype Mark II Plasma Rifle. This one is called the "Q-Matter Modulator" or so the plaque on its containment tube said,"

"Now you can join in with the battles," I joked half heartedly.

Fruity nodded. "We need to get out of here first."

I nodded in agreement and checked the damaged terminal and unfortunately it refused to turn on. I bet this terminal controlled the door as well.

"Terminal is busted," I sighed.

"Hmm, these clamps are all connected by a central shaft," Fruity said to himself as he examined the door and where the locking clamps control rods joined in the centre behind a metal wheel. "A plasma bolt dead centre should melt the connection and release the clamps."

We didn't have another option really so I kept quiet and let Fruity do his work. He reared up onto his hind legs and began to flap his wings to keep himself balanced while he stood upright and used his forelegs to hold the rifle. One of his hooves held under the barrel before the super conducting emerald discharge barrel and the other held the curved hoof trigger.

With the way he was holding the weapon, it was telling me it wasn't a Mark II like he believed.

"Unable to identify weapon." Flashed across my vision as I took in the weapon more inattentively.

Fruity pulled the trigger, and with a pop and a whoosh, the weapon released its super heated green bolt of magical energy. I could feel the heat from the ball of energy as it whizzed past me and struck the door dead centre. The impact area began to glow a bright green and the sound of metal being stressed began to groan out from the door. The wait was agonising as we listened to the metal stressing under the superheated affects of the plasma strike, but we were rewarded for our patience when two metal pops rung out and the door's locking clamps released and gravity took over and the door dropped into the floor like a lead weight.

"Good shot." I praised.

The purple stallion smiled as he sat down and quickly made another strap so he could carry the Q-Matter Modulator. "Q-Matter Modulator, that's a mouthful..." Fruity muttered to himself as he fastened a new strap to the weapon. "Q-Modulator, that sounds better."

The door opened up to a rather short corridor which looked to open up into a small office space at the end. The hall also contained another T-junction going off to the left but from here we could see bits of rubble sticking out so that told us it was likely blocked off. A sign hung from the cracked ceiling and our hope at finding our way out was restored. The sign had an arrow pointing straight ahead saying "Security/Lobby" and beneath it, it had an arrow pointing to the rubble filled hall saying "Offices". Wait, offices? Then that meant, that was the staircase we found earlier that was filled in and forced us to go through that zombie hell.

"Yes we can leave at last," Fruity sang as we started for the security office.

"Some fresh air will be greatly appreciated," My nose could certainly use it after smelling all that decay.

"Oh yea." Fruity agreed.

We had just made it to the office when a hulking Sentry Drone wheeled out in front of us.

"Oh shit!" Fruity and I cried in unison from the surprise appearance.

"Unregistered facial pattern detected, valid security badge detected, temporary access granted," It droned out automatically when it seemed to detect the security key Fruity held in his pocket. The machine was about to turn when it noticed the Q-Modulator. "Unauthorised removal of classified equipment, theft will not be tolerated!"

"Oh come on you have got to be yanking my chain I haven't took owt like that," Fruity whined as the large machine turned so it's twin miniguns were aimed at him. He responded to the miniguns by pulling the prototype rifle off his back and holding it again ready to shoot and he pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. "Shit, I should have checked what charge was left in that Mana Cell." He whined as he began to struggle with the MMC's cradle to which, at this point, the sentry's miniguns were spinning up.

I felt utter dread that my best friend was about to be turned into swiss cheese and that was something I did not want to happen. I couldn't let that happen, I just couldn't. I felt something snap inside me and my vision drained itself of colour until all I could see was everything in a shade of red, multiple lines of code began to run around the edges of my vision as a reticule focused on the sentry drone's head and then I charged at it. The drone turned, sensing my advance, and since I was closest I was the more important threat. I ducked as it began to fire, getting under and then, between its streams of bullets, I reached the machine to which I then jumped up. I planted my rear hooves onto its chassis and held onto its shoulder with my left forehoof while I drew my right hoof back. I could feel the tension in my leg, the servos and control rods struggling to apply more and more tension before I finally threw my hoof forward. I hit the machine square in the face with my unrestrained punch, the mechanical pony head exploded into a shower of sparks and my hoof continued until I had drove it about a foot into the machine's body and it puttered out and died with its control system destroyed. My unstrained attack however turned out to be a double edge sword because not only did I kill the machine but the impact had broken the connection between my hoof and fetlock and the broken metal of the machine acted like multiple knives now cutting into the flesh of my foreleg.

"HO...LY... SHIT!" Fruity gaped as he stood there gawking. "I knew you were strong but, dude."

"Ow, I couldn't let it, ow, hurt you," I whimpered as I carefully extracted my damaged leg from the machine's husk. My leg, apart from the broken hoof, had been cut to ribbons and one cut was so deep I could see the metal skeletal limp underneath. I cringed with new found pain as I held the damage.

"Thank you," Fruity said with gratitude and then unexpectedly nuzzled my cheek which set off a fiery blush across my cheeks. "Here, let me help with that." He offered as he shoved his head completely into one of his duster's pockets. I almost began to worry he would suffocate in there until he then pulled his head free with a roll of bandages and a healing potion. I smiled softly as I accepted the potion and held my leg out for him to bandage. I cringed and moaned in pain as he held my hoof and put it back into position as he wrapped it in bandages. The healing potion would fix the shredded flesh, and the bandages would help keep my hoof in place for my repair system to fix whenever it kicked in, I might need to eat something metal before that though.

"That was the bravest and kindest thing anypony has ever done for me," Fruity said softly when he finished bandaging my leg. "Or the stupidest," He muttered quietly, but in a playful tone.

I giggled. "Oh don't ruin the moment," I then surprised myself by returning his nuzzle. I've never felt like doing that to anyone but my parents before. Do I really like him that much? With a slightly goofy smile I turned and started to limp towards the blue door to the lobby. "C'mon, let's finally get out of here,"

"Yes ma'am." He chirped fluttering in the air like he was shot with cupid's arrow.

Fruity swiped the cardkey into the card reader and opened the security door to the lobby. The main doors were open. One of the double doors had been shattered, and the other had swung back against the reception desk and almost looked like it was about to break in half. Something had managed to break open the doors even with the deadbolts in place.

"That can't be good." Fruity sighed.

Cautiously, we entered the MASA Headquarters lobby again. Whatever broke those doors open might’ve still been here. As we moved around the model rocket in the middle of the lobby we saw something that filled us with dread. The security shutter that had first locked us into the museum had been pushed up slightly in one corner, giving enough clearance for something around our size to squeeze through. What could lift a security shutter like those?

"We should leave, like, right now!" I urged, not wanting to be around to find out what could life a steel door like that.

"Yeah I'm with you there, let's scarper."

We turned and fled as fast as we could, wanting to get as much distance from that hellhole and whatever had broken in.


XXXXX


*Several hours earlier*

"Attention... Attention... I-01 detected within the Marejave region. Repeat. I-01 detected within the Marejave region." An electronic female voice droned out throughout the empty control room.

A large computer monitor dominating a wall turned on automatically, showing a map of the Marejave desert and a yellow blip marked with "I-01" moving at high speed up a rail line heading towards Tom City. The map screen then shrunk down to a fifth of its original size and moved down into the bottom left corner and a green wireframe face of a stallion filled the screen. The face turned and angled down as if to look at the map screen.

"After two centuries I finally have my opportunity to finish what I started." The stallion said in a deep commanding tone before the head looked up and out into the room. Its gaze settled on a door in the far wall off to the back corner. The wireframe pony's eyes flashed and the door slid open to reveal a pitch black room.

Two red lights appeared in the darkness and began to sway slightly as it drew closer to the open door. Soon a black metal robotic pony that looks skeletal in appearance and with a tail made of many black fibres, left the dark room and stood before the computer.

"It is time I gave you a purpose I-02 IS," The wireframe stallion said as it looked over the robotic skeleton. "And it is important that you succeed."

"What is my mission?" The robotic skeleton buzzed in an emotionless electronic voice.

"You are to retrieve I-01 and bring it back here intact," The computer commanded. "It is imperative that you bring it back intact for it holds the key to make my plan a reality."

The machine nodded. "Affirmative."

The yellow blip on the map lost a lot of speed as it reached Tom City before again slowly making its way up the rail line.

"I-02 IS, use any means necessary to bring it back but again, do not destroy it, failure will not be tolerated and I would hate to lose you. You are the only I-02 not sealed within the vault," The stallion ordered. "All thanks to that traitorous wench..." The computer muttered to itself quietly. The robot didn't react to the unusual behaviour of its commander.

The door in the centre of the opposite wall facing the computer opened to let the robot out. As the black metal robot skeleton turned an alarm rung out from the computer.

"Warning, I-01 signal lost, repeat, I-01 signal lost... Disruption Magic detected before signal loss. Last known location, MASA Headquarters."

"No, I can't lose it now. What are you waiting for, go and bring it back." The wireframe stallion shouted in anger.

The robot turned and broke into a fast trot as it navigated the corridors of the facility until it came to the exit and left. The machine walked through a dark and dank cave until it emerged into the blistering early morning sun light bathing the Marejave desert. The machine found itself on the top of a rocky hill with a good view of everything around it.

To the northwest it could see the old Las Pegasus Industrial District, north were the ruins of Las Pegasus itself along with the smaller walled off section of the city that has been named New Pegasus, northeast were rocky hills and mountains beyond Lake Meadow, east lay the great Horseshoe Dam, southeast lay the Coltorado River, south were more hills and behind some hills lay Tom City, southwest lay open land and salt lake flats with a few settlements dotted about and to the west lay Nightmare Mountain and at its base, the MASA Headquarters.

"Target location identified. Open ground between here and there, chance of being seen, high..." I-02 IS said to itself as it regarded the distance to its target.

As the machine contemplated what it should do to remain hidden, it saw a pony completely glad in armour. The armour looked like old riot police armour with a large trench coat covering it and a full head helmet with an air filter to one side of the muzzle and two red lenses to protect the eyes.

"Acceptable."

The robot began to move down the hill towards the pony that appeared to be busy peering down into a valley. As I-02 IS drew closer it became aware that the pony was armed with an Anti-Machine Rifle fitted to a battlesaddle. Coming up behind the armour clad pony the robot began to move slowly and quietly as to not alert it.

The Desert Ranger got a feeling like something was watching him and then he could hear the dirt shifting under a heavy weight coming up from behind him. Thinking a raider was trying to get the jump on him he waited until he assumed the assailant would be in striking range and quickly spun around to surprise it. The Ranger found himself almost muzzle to muzzle with a black robotic skeleton.

"Holy fucking shit, what the fuck is that?" The Ranger cried out in a medium toned but smooth voice.

Suddenly the machine lashed out. Before he could mount any sort of defence, the robot had firmly grabbed him around the neck with its black nano-fibre tail and constricted around his neck, not enough to choke him nor damage the armour but enough to make it very uncomfortable.

"Voice calibration in progress," It buzzed as it hauled the Ranger off his forehooves with its tail. "Talk, equine." It demanded.

"Talk, what the fuck?" He choked as he struggled to free himself. "Let me go,"

"Keep talking," I-02 demanded as it used its tail to slam the struggling Ranger into the dirt floor.

"Son of a bitch, you bastard, let me go right now," He yelled as he bashed the fibres with his forehooves.

"Keep talking," The machine repeated.

"Piece of shit, let me go, you're killing me." The Ranger pleaded and then trigged his battlesaddle, hoping to hit the machine but his body was facing off to one side so his fifty calibre shot went wide. Suddenly he was released from the fibre tail's grip.

"Calibration complete," He heard the machine say and as he picked himself up to be able to strike the machine he felt two impacts to the sides of his head and found that the machine had grabbed his head with its hooves. "You're usefulness has ended." The machine said in an exact copy of his own voice. The machine had just copied his voice. The machine then violently twisted the stallion's head, breaking his neck and killing him.

The robot carefully peeled the dead pony from his armour and then slipped into it itself. The suit of armour fit perfectly and nopony would think its fibre tail to be any different at a glance as it threaded it through the hole in the rear. Once in the old riot armour, the machine then strapped the battlesaddle into place and found that the firing mechanism connects to the helmet. After making sure the battlesaddle was securely in place the machine then picked up the helmet, its deep set optical units scanned over the full head encompassing helmet before it slowly slipped the helmet over its head and into place, and with a click, the helmet was fastened into place and the connection to the battlesaddle made. To finish the ensemble the red lenses of the helmet began to glow.

The disguised I-02 IS grabbed the dead pony with its tail and dragged him out of sight before it casually began to walk in the direction of the MASA Headquarters.

Author's Note:

At long last Chapter 4. Edited by Alycorn CF.

I hope you enjoyed this addition and the introduction of a villain.

I am so sorry for the long wait but I hope it was worth it.