• Published 24th May 2014
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Fallout is Dragons - Stories from the Maw - Newbiespud

An anthology of short scenes related to the Fallout is Dragons podcast campaign.

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A Meeting With Pestilence (Session 16) [Spoilers]

Author's Note:

Warning: This chapter contains spoilers for Session 23, but it actually takes place just before Session 16. You might be able to guess what's going on just from that, but consider yourself warned anyway.

Previously, in Dragon's Maw...

To say that that Dragon Mawlers Inc. posed a threat to the Four Horses raider gang would be putting it mildly. On their way to Slayer Base, they managed to blow up an entire raider outpost with bombs, zombies, mines, and a little misdirection, leaving only a few survivors and a bloodstained message in their wake. Between that, being the first to conquer any the dragon's curses (much less two), and many other smaller achievements, the Dragon Mawlers were gaining a reputation at lightning speed. Especially Powder Keg, who was on his way to earning the nickname "Raider-Killer."

But despite this ever-present threat, the Four Horses have not yet retaliated directly against the Dragon Mawlers. Part of that might be The Executive, who seems to be pulling a few of the strings on the complex network of the gang. Part of that could also be the titular Four Horses themselves - War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death - each having their own agendas and a loose approach to leadership, more of a wandering pantheon than generals or chieftains.

As the Dragon Mawlers finish off their third dragon, one gang leader weighs his options and decides on an alternative course of action...

An earth pony traveled along the road that encircled the dormant volcano, currently the south side between Skyfall and Apocalypse. This pony, though not wearing his colors as openly as most, was clearly marked with a few signs of the Pestilence gang. This was a pony known for dealing, doing odd jobs, and generally being one of their most capable agents.

As he walked, he was waved down by another earth pony in the distance bearing the colors of another Pestilence member. The dealer adjusted his jacket and saddlebags and waved back, moving at a quick trot towards the other earth pony.

Once they were within speaking distance, the gang pony said to him, "Fractured Tibia?"

"Doctor Tibia. That bit's important to remember, mate. What d'ya need?"

"Pestilence himself asks for your presence. There is an outpost nearby where he is currently making camp. I will take you to him."

Tibbs smiled and gave the pony a heavy pat to the back. "Ace. Thanks for meetin' me out here in the Bush." He reached into his pack and pulled out a small container, a pill bottle, and handed it to the pony. "Some Med-X for the trouble, and because I'm in a ripper mood right now."

"Oh... Well, thanks," the Pestilence member replied, clearly not expecting the generosity from a fellow raider. He pocketed the supplies and started leading Tibbs of the road and to the northeast. Tibbs followed with a grin plastered to his face, humming a strange little ditty ever so softly.

He was taken to an outpost at the base of the mountain, built under what looked like a giant rocky outcropping, almost a cave but not quite. A number of structures were built into the rocks, and a wooden wall stretched across the opening to the area, with a number of Four Horses gang members guarding the entrance and keeping watch.

Tibbs nodded to the gang members, recognizing a few repeat customers, offenders, and patients. A few of them recognized him as well, some of them smiling with gratitude, some of them avoiding eye contact, and some of them glaring at him with a hint of begrudged respect.

"So," Tibbs said, focusing back on his guide, "what sort of yakka does Pestilence need me for? Somethin' t'do with the Rangers? That whacka cult actin' up?" Tibbs paused for a moment. "Somethin' about that new group? The... dragon whatsits?"

"That's not for me to say."

"Kinda figured, but guessin's fun, right?"

They came to the largest building in the settlement, where two raider guards stood by the door. The guards stopped the group as they approached, one of them holding up a hoof and saying, "Pestilence is... communing. He does not wish to be disturbed."

The doctor's raider guide said, "This is the pony he requested to see."

The guarding raider - Tibbs noticed the two of them were more heavily armed than your average Pestilence member - shook his head. "You will wait."

"No sense disturbin' the boss," Tibbs said, placing his hoof on the other raider's shoulder. "'s not like I was busy or anythin'. We can wait. Or at least, I can. If you've got business of yer own to do, feel free. I got some letters to write anyway."

His temporary companion nodded and left to do his own thing, leaving Tibbs with the two door guards. Tibbs set his saddlebags down and began rifling through them for a quill and some parchment. "Shit. Either a' you blokes got a match? I'm out."

The guards gave each other a confused look, but before they could answer, a fit of hacking coughs and wheezes came from within the building.

Tibbs chuckled and closed his saddlebags, putting them back on. "Nevermind. Sounds like I won't have enough time to write anyways."

One of the guards pressed his ear against the door and, after as second, said, "You may enter now."

Tibbs nodded and opened the door, walking inside with his head slightly bowed. Inside was what looked like a hybrid office/living space. The scent of incense and some other kind of burning fumes hit Tibbs immediately as he entered.

To his left, reclined on a mattress, was a very sickly-looking earth pony that he recognized as one of the Four Horses, Pestilence himself. There was a needle jammed into his upper foreleg, and smoke poured from his mouth in small puffs.

"G'day sir," Tibbs greeted him with a bow of his head. "Feelin' as ace as always? How was your... communing?"

"Heh..." Pestilence coughed, his voice raspy. "Almost lost this time. Pony pox is a more insidious foe than I had imagined. Won't *cough* underestimate it again."

"And it you, I imagine."

Pestilence grinned. "I should hope so. What hasn't killed me has made me very, VERY strong. Now..." He blinked and rubbed his eyes with his forehooves. "...Why are you here, again?"

"You sent some bloke out into the Waste to get me, sir. Tracked me down and brought me here."

"Right, yes." Pestilence cleared his throat. "Ahem... There are two things I wish to discuss with you. One... You have been a loyal and effective member of the gang since you first arrived in the Maw. You may ask of me for one boon of your choice, and should it be within my power to grant, it is yours."

"Got a steady gig, and freedom galore, sir. Nothin' worth gettin' I don't already got."

"Very well. Consider it a standing offer, then. Two... *cough cough* One second, sonny." Pestilence started another serious fit of hacking coughs.

"Anythin' I can help with, sir? Fresh batch of meds and drugs available, and of course, free of charge for the boss man himself."

"No, no... *cough* I prefer to let my body do the work. Patch up my brothers all you like, Tibbs, but I fight my own battles."

"As you wish."

"Yes, now... Number two. What do you know of the Prospector group 'Dragon Mawlers Inc.'?"

"That's it. Couldn't remember that Mawler bit. Seem to be more keen on just blowin' all our shit up than maulin' us. Patched up a few runners, but from what I gather, they tend not to leave too many of us left. And... if what's been said is more than a rumor, they've been killin' dragons. Or... dragon souls. Somethin' like that."

"The truth is even more confusing than the reality, Tibbs. The reknowned Raider-Killer is among them, yet Death tells me at least two of them are reformed raiders themselves. They hunt the great dragons - for now all of the northern Maw has been cleansed of curses - yet the Cult worships a new dragonness walking the earth among them.

"War wants to bring the weight of his Path upon them. Famine is barely aware of them, save for their involvement in the affairs of Gold Rush. Death is supremely interested in them, even considering a form of partnership. I... am not sure one way or the other."

A smirk began to grow on Tibbs face, and his eyebrow rose. "Lemme take a swing. You want me to keep an eye on them for ya? Keep ya informed of their 'activities' and maybe even deal with them, should they be any sort of threat?"

Pestilence just nodded.

"Sounds like fun. If I'm gonna get close though, I may end up joinin' in on some of their attacks. I can try and send some warning on which way they head, but it's not always gonna give them enough time. And they may get suspicious if the raiders suddenly start disappearin' from the bases after I sneak my way in. And for that matter, think the gang'll be alright without access to their doc?"

"I have a reserve of specialists I can send out to fill the gap you'll be leaving."

"A whole team to replace little ol' me? I'm honored, sir," Tibbs said with a chuckle. "And the whole joinin' in on killin' what may be members of our gang. That gonna be an issue? All it'll take is one dipshit callin' me out to blow my cover."

Pestilence frowned and thought for a few moments. "We're already hemorrhaging members all across the Maw, fearing the Raider-Killer. And we suspect that The Executive is pulling strings to enslave former raiders as well." He leaned up off the mattress and closer to Tibbs. "The leaders of the Four Horses will be holding a summit at Apocalypse very soon to discuss these matters. I hope that alone says how critical this situation has become."

Tibbs' grin immediately disappeared, and he nodded.

Prestilence laid back down and said, "But no, what you do to preserve your cover is no concern of mine. I will be diverting the majority of my forces out of the Mawlers' path, and any others you meet will most likely be taking caps from The Executive on the side. So you are free to kill whoever you like."

Tibbs nodded again. "Then your will be done, sir. I'll track them down immediately."

"Good. They were last seen heading for Skyfall. I would start there. Make sure you have no traces of your allegiance to the Four Horses when you make contact. We're..." He hacked and coughed again. "...we're done. You are dismissed."

The doctor bowed and made his way out of the room. He stopped just outside the door, slipped off his saddlebags and jacket, and handed his lab coat with the Pestilence markings to one of the guards. "Take care of this for me, will ya?"

Without waiting for an answer, he dug through his saddlebags and pulled out a grimy straightjacket, slipping into it before putting the saddlebags back on. "Haven't worn this thing in ages," he muttered to himself as he trotted out of the base, past the guards and into the wastes. "Next stop, Skyfall."

As he began his trek to the wrecked airship of a city, the strange little ditty he was humming earlier returned, a smile on his face. This was going to be fun.

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