• Published 9th Apr 2012
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Fallout: Equestria - Memories - TheBobulator



One crazy pegasus, one roboleg, a contingent of Steel Rangers, and an adventure of infinite detours. Put all that together and what do you get? A rip-roaring mosh pit wrecking its way across the Wasteland, leaving nothing but confusion in its wake.

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Chapter 18: You callin' me stupid, punk?

Chapter 18: You callin’ me stupid, punk?

“I'm just glad I haven't been replaced by a bucket of turnips.”


We finished eating and went to find Violet, partly because I didn’t trust anypony else with my stuff and… well, I just didn’t trust anypony with my stuff. Based on Violet’s personality and mannerisms, I was already fearing for the safety of my trusty anti-machine rifle. Rumcake elected to stay behind, claiming he had “clerical responsibilities” to attend to before escaping my line of sight. Without anywhere else to store things, I stored my brand new bobblehead underneath a wing.

I heard the scratching of multiple quills and flipping of pages before I was halfway up the ladder. Based on the excited mutterings of the two ponies causing the parchment-based noise, it seemed like Tangerine and Violet were having a great time in each other’s company.

“…and if we work under the assumption that the Ministry of Wartime Technologies didn’t alter the specifications of the spell matrix in the government publication, then it all comes down to the simple task of isolating the cubic-stack pentagram system from the armor’s spell matrix and copying it over to the old repair talisman,” I heard one of them tell the other.

“That’s impossible!” Tangerine groaned. “I’m barely capable of advanced field repair as it is, never mind our lack of detailed instructions.”

More shuffling of paper. “I don’t need instructions. I have science,” Violet asserted, moving around several books at once with a heavy thump. “Besides, who said you would be doing the magic work, anyway?”

Poking my head over the lip of Violet’s flat, I noticed that a large space had been cleared out and had subsequently been flooded with scrolls, bits of paper, and open books. Somewhere in the midst of all the chaos, the two unicorns were still immersed in whatever they were doing and hadn’t noticed me yet. Tangerine had her hood down and was face-first in a torso-sized tome while levitating a notebook at hoof. Part of her was covered by a fallen stack of paperback books, but she didn’t appear to care. Violet was surrounded by several floating volumes while also writing in a well-worn book. To my extreme annoyance, she was still using my feather as a quill.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Tangerine shot back. A corner of very familiar battered cloth caught my eye from beneath several scrolls in various states of stowage. With as much caution as possible, I attempted to slide my bag out from underneath all the things on top of it. “Are you suggesting that I’m a magical featherwe—aah!” The hovering notebook faltered as I knocked over several more books and scrolls in the process.

She exasperatedly exhaled and snapped, “Bloody hell, Frosty. You scared the living daylights out of me.”

Violet hadn’t reacted at all. “That’s why. I sensed her coming five minutes ago.” She turned her attention to me, looking up from her multitude of orbiting books. “Speaking of which…” My right hoof was roughly yanked into the air by a hazel magic field. “Now hold still while I look something up real fast.” I tried my best to withdraw my hoof, but Violet’s telekinetic grip was simply too strong.

After finding out that no amount of struggling wouldn’t get me anywhere, I had nothing better to do other than observe. Tangerine had gone back to her book, and Violet was keeping me in place while looking through the book that she’d been writing in previously. On the topic of books, it might have been orange or purple at one point, but the many multicolored patchwork repairs made it hard to tell what color it actually was. Besides the owner’s name scrawled on the front, the original title was barely readable.

“The Omniarcanus?” I read out loud. “What’s that mean?”

“It’s probably too complicated for you. However, I do have to thank you for finding it for me again! I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t brought it back for me.” Violet indifferently continued to flip through pages, many of which were of different sizes and shades. Much like the book they were contained in, a few of them didn’t appear to be part of the original text.

“Here it is. Hold still.” She closed her eyes and charged her horn with magic.

Even though I couldn’t go very far, I still leaned back and braced myself for what was coming. “Well, I don’t really have a choice,” I muttered. Just in case, I protectively placed my claw over my happy bits.

Whatever spell Violet had used last time still creeped me out just enough to put me on edge. There was a flash, a sudden full-body tickling sensation, and then it stopped. I prepared myself for the inevitable tentacley things that were about to touch me, but they never came. When I opened my eyes again, Violet was writing in a different page of her book.

I didn’t want to press my luck finding out what had been done to me this time, so I simply asked, “That’s it?”

A response might have been asking too much. Violet was furiously scratching away at a page with my feather-quill, an excited look plastered on her face. Whatever had happened, it was probably good.

“Oh, that’s all for now. You can go.” She continued to write away. “Fascinating.”

Without missing a beat, she went back to conversing with Tangerine. “Did you know that pegasi have their own unique magic fields? Fields that have the ability to retain unicorn magic?”

“Really? I thought—” Tangerine paused. “Hold on, what?”

“As observed by a Professor Skim Reader, pegasi have limited weather-related magic abilities, unlike a unicorn’s potential all-encompassing magical skill,” Violet explained, completely ignoring my presence. “But it appears that extended contact with unicorn magic makes a pegasus’s latent magic more pronounced, yet no more powerful. However, your dear little Frosty here has a really strange magic signature that I don’t recognize. I’m just going to assume it’s a decaying mix of both of our magic signatures since that’s the only way it makes sense.”

Magic fields? Signatures? What? Apparently Tangerine had a better grasp on what it was than I did. “That’s cool and all, but what does that have to do with repairing a repair talisman?”

“Nothing. Let’s get back to that.”

I blankly stared at them. “I don’t get any of this,” I whimpered, completely lost and confused.

Escape, Frosty! Escape before I get more confused!

Great idea, brain. What a bunch of nerds. In the meantime, I fished out my bag and started checking the contents to make sure everything was more or less where I left it. Since I probably couldn’t get a word in edgewise, I would just have to hope nothing had been messed with too much. At least I got Dad’s hat back, which I immediately plopped onto my head.

Both unicorns gave me a condescending look, almost as if they pitied my lack of intelligence. “I really didn’t expect you to understand much more than point and shoot,” Violet stated with a little snicker.

I didn’t really care about this conversation since it wasn’t being productive anymore. By an unspoken agreement, the unicorns went back to their fancy smart things and I went back to checking my bag. Over by one of the support beams, I spied my anti-machine rifle doing its best scroll rack impression. Once the rolls of parchment had been relocated, I field-stripped my rifle and shoved the parts into their convenient compartments on the inside of my saddlebag. Now all I needed was my armor…

I retreated down the ladder before the concentration of technological jargon in the immediate vicinity overloaded my brain. Without really thinking about it, I decided to go find Rumcake. Maybe he knew where my armor was. Before I forgot about it, I carefully tucked my little white gem addict bobblehead into the safest spot in my bag.

Once again, Sparkle and Rumcake were standing next to their armor at one of the many workbenches conveniently placed nearby. I say “standing” because even though their much more repaired-looking armor lay against the workbench, they weren’t really doing anything except staring at something I couldn’t see on top of the bench itself.

“Hey guys! What’re we all staring at?” I cheerfully asked, coming up behind them. I squeezed my way between the two of them.

Well, I found where my armor went. Somepony, presumably Sparkle judging by the screwdriver still clenched between her teeth, had taken it apart down to the bare armored plates and bolts. With the barest hint of rage coloring my voice, I quietly stated the obvious.

“You took apart my armor.”

Rumcake sidled away from me ever so slightly. “It was Sparkle’s idea.”

My first instinct to attack her came out of nowhere, but I held myself back thanks to the sheer shock of it all. I was better than a mindless destruction machine. Calmly, I turned to Sparkle. “Was it?” I asked, even softer yet still managing to maintain an air of menace.

“Uh…er— I ‘ean, uh,” Sparkle stammered around the screwdriver. “—‘aybe?”

My hoof met my face with a barely audible groan. “Please, please tell me you remember how to put it back together. I don’t have that many spares stored and I’d like to have my current armor as intact as possible.”

Sparkle stared at the neatly arranged piles of metal plates and other armor-related parts. She dropped the screwdriver and sheepishly squeaked, “I might need to take a look at one of your extras.”

Wordlessly, I reached into my bag and dropped an impossibly neatly folded suit of Enclave Power Armor in front of her. “I’m not even going to ask why you even needed to take it apart.” All it took was an angry glare to make her immediately get to work.

“If you’re done threatening Sparkle, I think we might need to have a talk,” Rumcake mentioned, poking my side. “In private.”

I had a bad feeling about this, mostly because he sounded much more serious than usual. Bad feeling aside, I followed him over to the wall and braced myself for anything.

We stared at each other for several indeterminate seconds.

“This is the part where you tell me why you’re doing this,” I said.

Rumcake opened his mouth, but continued to blankly stare.

“Hello?” I waved my hoof at his face.

Finally, he answered. “I forgot what I was going to say.” I facehoofed again. “Wait, wait I remember now—we trust each other, right?”

I cocked my head. That went without saying, didn’t it? But if he had to ask, then what was wrong? “Yeah, of course. I trust you,” I replied, puzzled. “If the time called for it, I’d put myself on the line to protect you.”

“And I would too, basically.” Rumcake sighed. “But the problem is… if you trust me so much, why do you insist on running off on your own and getting yourself killed? I do love you, Frosty. You know that, right? I just can’t bear the thought of losing you any more than I already have.”

It was my turn to stare with my mouth open. I couldn’t blame convenience, since backup would have been helpful.

“Every time I’ve left you alone, bad things have happened.”

I could only blame time, but that seemed like a feeble excuse out of context.

After attempting to rack my mind for any other excuses to little avail, I sighed and hung my head in shame.

“I’m sorry.” As much as I hated it, he was right. I was taking too many unnecessary risks, and for what? In hindsight, my reckless abandon was probably going to get me killed even before my deadline arrived.

I looked back up at him. “I probably should have waited, but I just couldn’t!”

“Why?” he simply replied.

I wanted to tell him everything, my deal with Death, how I only had less than a month left to live, and how fractured my psyche really was, but I didn’t want him to worry about it. Speaking of fractured, Raider had other plans for the direction of this conversation.

“But the killing leaves so little time for the waiting!” she fanatically cackled.

Rumcake backhoofed me across my face, snapping me back into control. “Ow,” I grumbled, rubbing my cheek. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” I probably deserved that.

“Did you know your pupils do a weird creepy twitchy thing when you stop being, well, you?” Rumcake told me, now staring directly into my eyes. “It’s actually kinda disturbing.”

For a moment, I couldn’t figure out how he’d noticed my deteriorating mind since he hadn’t really been around for some of my best freakouts. Sure, he’d been around for a few of them, but they weren’t that noticeable, were they?

“Wait… Tangerine told you everything, didn’t she?” Yeah, that made more sense.

“Sparkle too. From what they’ve told me, you’re not in good shape,” Rumcake admitted. “Apparently you’ve created a few different personalities or something? Care to enlighten me?” He glared at me expectantly, eyebrow raised.

Well, there was no more avoiding this particular conversation then. With a defeated sigh, I prepared to launch into a full explanation. I pulled out the earliest, most severe example that I could remember that Rumcake had been present for. “Remember that time in the tunnels under Happy Hills?” He nodded. “And you remember how I was being all creepy and violent?”

“Yeah… Instant said she had a hunch, but I don’t think she ever followed up,” Rumcake realized. “Hard to forget that time though. Never again will anypony get the jump on me.”

Oh right. I’d never gotten the explanation behind that.

“That was the violent one in control. I—she has this thing for excessive brutality and gore. I’ve also got one that basically acts like my logical thinking or something and another one that’s usually playful and stuff.”

So that was Raider, Gala, and Filly Frosties accounted for. “The other ones aren’t nearly as important.” No need to cover Drunky and Ice Storm just yet, and especially Officer. I had a pretty good feeling that he wasn’t part of my mind at all.

Just by Rumcake’s head angle, I could tell he was trying to process all of the things I’d just told him. “Is it possible to talk to the logic one?” he finally asked.

I flattened my ears against my head. “You callin’ me stupid, punk?”

“Uhh… I think you’re smarter than you look?”

“Not helping.”

“Sorry, you just blew my mind so hard that I can’t words.”

I allowed myself an empty chuckle. “I really don’t know if I can arbitrarily switch between each of my personalities.” A good portion of the problem was that I had no idea how I would go about doing it in the first place. Usually Gala did her own thing instead of waiting on my every beck and call.

“Most of the time they just kinda—hngrrk!” I was suddenly struck by an inexplicable feeling of vertigo which caused me to stop in mid-sentence.

On their own accord, my hooves raised to my face. (Claw and hoof, whatever.)

“Now that our life isn’t in danger, I finally have a chance to remark that this is excessively strange,” Gala Frosty flatly stated, testing my claw with a few flexes. “And why does your body feel so dirty and stressed?” She partly groaned at me, stretching our wings and legs.

“Uh, Frosty?” Rumcake looked very confused as he stared at me with questioning eyes. “Is… are…” He cocked his head. “You’re not normal Frosty, are you?”

If there was an award for stupid questions, Rumcake had just won it. Gala pouted at him. “Well, if you prefer boring old Frosty, fine by me. I thought you wanted to talk to me, sheesh.” She casually flipped my mane and let out a dramatic sigh.

Just as theatrically, Rumcake grabbed my shoulder. “Wait! I have questions!”

“I thought so.” Gala smirked. “Ask, and you shall possibly receive.”

For some reason, his first question was, “Does this mean making out with you doesn’t count as cheating?”

Both of me blankly stared at him. Really?

“What? It’s a valid question.” Colts will be colts, I guess.

As if telling a secret, Gala whispered, “You do realize that your Frosty can see and hear you, right?”

Rumcake immediately blanched, though I did feel a little bad for him.

I’ll let it slide… this time.

I felt our lips tug into a grin. “Smooth moves, Coltanova. Good thing Frosty’s willing to let it go this time. Next question.”

I could tell he was really thinking about it carefully this time. After much tapping and hmm’ing, Rumcake eventually came up with a question. “If you’re Frosty’s smart bits, does that mean that you know more than she does?”

Actually, I wanted to know the answer to that one too.

We sat down on the ground and leaned against the wall. “Well, that’s complicated. All of us share the same consciousness, sort of, but I think we might have access to different parts of our mind,” Gala explained, even getting my attention.

“Thing is, I haven’t really tried since—” I mentally warned her about telling Rumcake about Officer Frosty. Whatever he or she was, I didn’t want to say anything about it. “—well, I just haven’t really tried,” she lamely finished.

“So does this mean you know about Frosty’s missing memories and stuff?” he immediately asked.

If only it were that easy.

Gala tapped our chin thoughtfully. “There are things missing from our collective memory, but I might be able to find something. That is, if the rest of Frosty’s okay with it.” She didn’t really wait for an answer. “Hold on, be right back.”

I found myself sliding face-first into the ground, since I wasn’t ready for having control of my body back. Thanks to my great reaction time, I sat back up before I kissed concrete. “Woah, a little warning would have been nice,” I growled to myself.

“Wait, you can switch at any time you want?” he actually sounded amazed.

I had to think about that for a moment. I used to be able to only switch at certain times, but now… “Well, the others choose when to show up and when they want to say something, but I can’t really force one of them to take control. They just, you know, kinda do their own thing.”

Rumcake looked a bit disappointed. He dragged his hoof across the floor as we sat in abject silence. “Sooo… what’s the word on smarty hooves?”

“Huh?” I looked up from the wing I was idly preening. After I’d essentially told myself I was an untidy mess, I planned to do something about it immediately.

“The smart one. Anything?”

Oh. That’s what he was talking about. “I have no idea. Usually they—”

Right on cue, I was no longer in control of myself. “Boop!” Filly Frosty reached out and bopped Rumcake on the nose. She happily giggled as he sat there, looking confused as all hell.

“Wha—”

“Boop!” Filly Frosty poked Rumcake’s nose again. “You’re silly.” She laughed, poking his nose again.

Obviously, my sudden change in attitude caught Rumcake by surprise. “O-kaaay. I wasn’t really expecting—”

“BOOP!” More giggling.

Rumcake rubbed his nose. “—that. Frosty? I need you t—”

“Boop!”

“—to stop.”

“Honk.” Filly Frosty changed tactics, choosing to squeeze Rumcake’s nose instead.

“Stop.” Another honk. “STOP. Frosty, what are you doing?” Followed by another boop, which Rumcake barely dodged. “Frosty, stop!”

Against Filly’s wishes for one more well-deserved booping, I pushed her into the recesses of my mind. “Ugh, sorry. I think the rest of me is just itching to speak to you directly now that you’ve asked the question.”

I sighed. Switching back and forth so much in such a short period of time was actually giving me a slight headache. “And if you need to know, that was my foalish personality. Why I have one, I have no idea.”

The migraine prodding at the base of my brain decided to crank it up a notch. “Hi! I’m back. Good news, I found some information. Bad news, this might be bad news for some of us here.” Gala burst out of my mind as if she had just returned from somewhere.

“Nnghh… what does that mean, exactly?” I groaned, pushing myself out over Gala’s influence.

“Shush. The only things I managed to pull out were basic information, but you might find this useful: about five or so years back, Frosty’s parents had a falling out. Frosty sided with Dad, and Summer Breeze; my—her sister sided with Mom. Long story short, her parents don’t—didn’t speak much after that, but Summer and I still stayed in good relations.”

I couldn’t really explain it, but it was like I could actually feel holes in my memory filling in. Dad found out that Mom had been cheating on him while he’d been on deployment, and after that their marital situation had declined.

“We agreed that each of us would make sure that Mom and Dad would be okay. I went with Dad, since I took after him more than Mom.” I managed to croak, tears threatening to assault my vision.

Gala wiped a stray tear from our eye and sniffled. “There’s a good part to this—Mom insisted that Summer transfer out of the task force Dad was in and find a different one to squad up with.” My heart soared. That meant Summer was definitely still alive somewhere! Hopefully, she’d dodged the purging of Recon Force Blizzard. “Though that information is, uh, classified.”

I leaned forward and grabbed Rumcake, pulling him into a tight hug. There were no words for the relief that I was feeling. I simply buried my face into his fuzzy shoulder and cried tears of joy, sadness, and regret. For the first time in a long while, I let everything out. The impact of all my actions finally caught up to me—the kill team, all of the senseless, needless murder. I cried for all of them, every single one that I’d killed in cold blood. I cried for what I’d lost and all the pain I’d caused.

“Shh…” Rumcake stroked my mane. “I’m here for you.” All this talk about family was making me all sad and nostalgic, and his body was so strong and warm…

“But could you loosen your grip a bit? I can feel your talons digging into my back.” I muttered an apology between sniffles and shifted the hold I had on his back.

My throat ached from choking back sobs. “Why do you love me?” I felt his muscles tense under my cheek. “What makes me so special?”

The hoof on the back of my head paused as well. “Would you be mad if I said your body?” Rumcake whispered back.

I wasn’t sure whether to be mad at all. From what everypony always said, I wasn’t particularly surprised. In fact, I was more surprised that he was either bold enough to say it directly to me or telling me the truth. Sure, I would have liked to hear something like “oh, I love you for your strong conviction” or “your personality is what makes you sexy”, but I really did lack both of those things. I’d settle for just sexy.

Funnily enough, Rumcake’s heart rate escalated slightly. I listened to him breathe as he expected me to answer. When I didn’t, he finally asked “Are you mad at me?” He took my extended silence as a bad sign. “I feel like I’ve chosen poorly.”

I pulled away with a sigh. “No, I’m not mad. I guess I really just don’t have other redeemable qualities.”

Personality was right out—I had too many of them. I wasn’t graceful at all, especially in the air. Smart? I barely got through basic, let alone actual education-like courses. Sure, I knew what I was doing most of the time, but that was about it.

“Doesn’t help that I’m crazy as shit.”

Clattering and clanking brought my moping to a standstill. Doc was standing close by, still just as grimy and still armed to the teeth. “Paladin? I need a word, if you would. In private.”

Rumcake gave me a worried glance. “Looks like Doc needs something. Are you going to be alright on your own for the moment?”

I nodded. Well, I guess I should probably get something done instead of feeling bad for myself.

“Alright. Love ya.” He gave me a quick kiss on the head for good luck and then trotted off with Doc.

I, on the other hoof, decided that leaving two unicorns alone with nearly literal tons of pre-war information was a recipe for disaster. That was my excuse for storming over there and enthusiastically asking Violet whether she’d done anything to my gun while I was recuperating.

Something seemed to be happening by the town center, so that immediately took higher priority. I pushed my way through the small gathering to find out that the two unicorns I was looking for were making a scene. Violet, wearing her tattered scribe robe, stood next to a worried-looking Tangerine, wearing a robe in much better condition, backed up by an unarmored Sparkle.

“What are we watching?” I whispered sidelong to the dusty brownish stallion standing next to me.

After seeming to consider his answer, he finally replied, “I think it’s some kind of magic show. I dunno.”

The two unicorns proceeded to delicately take apart Rumcake’s slightly battered armor to get to the internals. I strolled over to Sparkle and away from the pair of unicorns, since I didn’t want to distract them from their very delicate task. I mean, they were floating around little lines and circles and things! Whatever they were doing, it was definitely too advanced for my own good.

Sparkle wasn’t exactly very happy as she snapped one of my armor’s shoulder plates back into position a bit harder than necessary. “So, how goes things?” I asked, peering over her shoulder.

She checked the fully intact suit of power armor that I’d helpfully supplied and fished out several large short flat bolts from the small pile she’d collected. “Eh.” Sparkle grunted in annoyance as she picked up the opposite shoulder plate and bolted into place as well. At least I’d be armored up by the end of the day, judging by her progress.

“It could be worse.” The moment those words left my lips, the entire room suddenly dipped into darkness. “What the b—”

It looked like we weren’t allowed to see anything, courtesy of the two unicorns in the room. All the light in the room was being sucked into one spot, courtesy of a certain brown-tinted mare. I also found out I could see in the dark—as in, I could see a whole lot of dark.

Save for the pale orange glow that was being overshadowed by an intense hazel light emanating from Violet’s horn, barely anything was illuminated at all. The parts of my mind that were still working insisted that this much light should have lit up the entire area, but I stopped listening to them a long time ago. Suddenly, a myriad of rainbow-colored circles, lines, rune-ish things, and a whole lot of other stuff erupted out of a small colorful gem suspended in an orange field.

Just as suddenly, another dark red gem floated up and exploded into cracked and fragmented red circles, lines, rune-ish things, and a lot of other broken-looking stuff. Slowly and carefully, Violet swept away the worst of the damage from the red squiggles. A large section of rainbow circle-things lit up with a bright hazel outline, slowly brightening floating away. The original lines and circles stayed behind, while the hazel outline continued to carefully navigate toward the red stuff.

All of the red things jolted slightly to the left. Both unicorns sharply intook breath at the same time, then Violet glared at Tangerine angrily. “Are you seriously trying to mess this up? If you goof it right now, everything breaks.”

“Sorry, sorry. Lost focus for a second,” Tangerine apologized, shutting her eyes in order to concentrate. “Continue.”

Violet gave Tangerine a warning glance before going back to moving the sparkly hazel outline. Once the outline was replacing a good portion of the shattered red lines, Violet closed her eyes as well. Her already-glowing horn gained another layer of glow and sweat beaded on her brow. The hazel lines and stuff flashed once, then faded away to red. After that, everything went back to normal. All the magic stuff coming out of the gems whizzed back into their respective rocks, the lights went back to normal, and Violet flopped onto her haunches.

“And it should be working,” Violet panted. She wiped the sweat off her face with the edge of her robe’s hood as Tangerine slotted the gems back into the armor in front of her. “Go try it.”

A bright red laser appeared out of nowhere, then came to rest on the armor. The report of a sniper rifle rang out, followed by a small hole being punched in the neck plating. Very slowly, the steel around the hole melded together and reformed so that it was like nothing had happened.

“It buckin’ works! Now y’all gonna stop buckin’ with th’ lights now?” Airhead yelled from his flat. “Y’all have no respect.”

“Hey! No shooting in residential!” Boss yelled from the distance. “Keep your bullets to yourself!”

Rumcake sauntered back over with a pair of weird little orange biohazard-marked pouches slung around his neck. “Hey, did you guys know that this place has a working long-range radio? Because I just got off the radio with base, and we’ve got a new mission directive. Well, it’s more like an optional objective. Everypony ready to roll?” he asked, looking around at our conveniently assembled group. He nudged his power armor on the ground. “And is this fixed yet?”

Violet proudly stood next to it. “I’ve patched up the repair talisman, but without more power and information I can’t do a perfect fix.” As amazing of a job she’d done, she didn’t look pleased with her work. “It’s still going to work, but the repair rate has been severely hampered.”

“But it works, right?” Rumcake asked again.

“Yeah, I guess,” Violet glumly agreed.

Rumcake smiled warmly. “That’s what counts. And I can’t think of any other unicorns that have the ability to repair talismans like that.” Even Tangerine agreed with a wry smile. “So in my book, you did a damn fine job. Sparkle?”

The very annoyed Ranger snorted. “Fine, fine. I’ll admit you’re skilled,” Sparkle grudgingly agreed. She shoved the last few bolts into my armor’s leg plates. “And I guess you did a good job.”

Then it was Tangerine’s turn. “They’re right. You’re smart, you’re skilled, and the Rangers need mares like you.” She smiled hopefully. “Maybe you can teach us a thing or two from that book of yours.”

Violet stayed silent, considering her options. “I don’t know…” She nervously shifted on her hooves. “Mom left the Rangers for a reason, and nopony looks at my book. Nopony but me.” With newfound confidence, she glared at everypony gathered. “And if anypony touches my stuff without my knowledge, it will be the last thing you do.”

The tension in the air could have been sliced with my claw. “O-kay… don’t touch the book. So now that all that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business. Uh, what’s the op?” I asked, very unsure whether Violet could actually kill me with a book and very anxious to change the subject. From what she’d just demonstrated, her claim wasn’t too far-fetched.

We held a moment of silence for our collectively lost time. In the meantime, Rumcake picked up his helmet and secured it on his head. “One of our scouts found intel on an unopened stable a few klicks away. With luck, we should be the first in. After that, it’s off to Bucklyn Cross for a quick checkup.” He stomped his hooves into the armor’s boots, then paused. “Damn it, these are the rear ones.”

I glanced at my armor as well. “Might as well get this stuff on if we’re leaving.”

The chestplate was closer, so I dipped my head down and threaded my head through the neck hole. When I raised my head, I realized the entire thing was on upside down. Even if I wasn’t normally rated for power armor, why didn’t I know how to put this on by now? I struggled with trying to flip the armored collar piece around as I mulled this over.

Finally, I gave up and asked, “Somepony help me with this.”

The two other ponies in attendance stared at us. “You know what, I think you two make a great couple,” Tangerine piped up, then glanced at Sparkle. “Look at them bumble around like it’s their first suiting-up.”

I was still having trouble getting the chestplate around my neck to spin around while Rumcake had finally gotten his boots on right.

Sparkle snorted. “You’re right, that is kinda adorable. They do match, after all. You help Frosty, since she’s having a load of trouble.” She stomped over to her own suit. “I’ll help Rumcake if he needs it.”

We spent the next hour or so making sure everything was prepared for the journey. Armor was re-equipped, rations were acquired, and bullets were purchased. Everything needed to be bought before we left — including dinner, since we weren’t coming back anytime soon. A few shopkeepers and locals were somewhat dismayed by the news, but Boss took it worse than anypony else.

“It’s a shame to see you go, but remember—I, for one, welcome our new pegasus overlords,” went his exact words. Of course I doubted that event since we—the Enclave—kept postponing the fabled return to the surface.

Speaking of the Enclave, Airhead also wanted to talk to me. I was on my way back from a last-second munchie restock when he stopped me. “Heard y’all are haulin’ ass outta here.”

I regarded him with guarded suspicion. “You might have heard correctly.”

For once, his confident facade cracked. “From what Ah’ve seen, ya still got’cher cutie mark. An’ that means ya can get back into the grand bucking vagina fortress in the sky.”

That brought questions to my mind, questions that I’d rather not answer to myself. I chose my next words carefully, guarding my tone. “Maybe. Why?” For a sniper, I was kinda expecting him to be more dodgy and less direct. Heh, stereotyping.

Airhead nervously chewed his lip, which was really the only part of him that I could pull any ideas of his body language from since only his muzzle protruded from his balaclava. “Y’all got family left? Up there, Ah mean?”

After my heart-wrenching epiphany earlier, I really didn’t want to talk about family. “Get to the point, asswipe,” I snarled,

“Who put a sack of dicks in your lunch? Sheesh, y’all gotta calm down.” Airhead sighed. “Ah got my fiance up there, an’ all she knows is that Ah betrayed the Enclave an’ got executed.” He stared off into the distance. “Her name’s Cy, by the way,” he added. “For Cyclone, or somethin’ like that.”

Well, his motives were obvious. “And you want me to tell her that you’re still alive and well, I assume?”

Airhead was taken aback. “An’ why the hell would ah do that? No, Ah need you to go tell her she’s a goddesses-damned bitch.” And with that, he unfurled his poorly-camo’d wings and flew off. What the balls did I just agree to?

We gathered outside Perma once everypony was ready. “Since you’re traveling with us now, you’ll need this.” Rumcake came up from behind me and clipped something to my right shoulder.

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a little rubber antenna extending from a small device attached to my right pauldron. “It’s a short range two-way radio so we can actually communicate with each other in the field.”

I was about to say something until he held me in place and looped something that snapped in place around my neck. “Since you already have an earbloom, I’ll sync the radio so that it detects this throat mic and your PipBuck’s earbloom as one audio device,” Tangerine explained, pulling out her little device that I’d seen before.

This probably made for the most useful thing Rumcake had ever given me. “Aww, this is such a nice gift!” I cooed. “Better than roses and chocolates any day.”

Even though both of us were armored up and he had his helmet on, I still tried to tackle him into a hug. Unfortunately, with armor, he was heavy enough so that I bounced off his body.

“Woah there, toots. It’s just a freakin’ radio. Chill.” Sparkle rolled her eyes. I stuck my tongue out and blew a raspberry at her. She was just jealous.

The five of us (me, Rumcake, Sparkle, Tangerine, and Violet) started down the road, Rumcake in the lead. Our target destination was less than a days’ worth of travel to the west. It could be less, but not everypony with us had wings like I did. Ergo, we were all stuck walking. Periodically Rumcake would send me out to scout out the path ahead, but that got boring and repetitive when there wasn’t anything trying to kill us. I did, however, get a great view of dull brown wasteland and dead shrubbery.

A few hours before sunset, I was sent out on patrol one last time to make sure our location of camp was secure. Contrary to popular belief, the Wasteland at sunset was depressing as heck. There was no fabled reddish glow, no actual sun, though I will admit the cloud cover did turn a nice shade of purple sometimes.

Eight moving dots north of our position stopped my train of thought. I brought my rifle to bear and used its magic scope to get a good look at them. Only three of the eight were armed with guns, since the other five were marching in a straight line and shackled together. Each of the five had little black bands around their necks. A slave train? Uh oh.

I swooped back down to the ground where everypony else was idly chatting and standing around. “Guys, we might have a moral problem.”

Of course saying that would get their attention. “But does that mean that we can set up camp soon? I’ve got my eye on a run-down diner over there, and my hooves hurt from walking,” Violet whined.

“What did you find, exactly?” Rumcake asked, completely ignoring the previous statement. I brought him up to speed on what I’d seen. After he’d heard what I needed to tell him, he stayed silent. Presumably, he was deliberating on whether or not to do anything about the slaves, but he could be thinking about anything under that helmet.

I felt like I had to give my own input on the situation. “As much as I’d like to save them, I don’t know what we’d do with five civilians in our current objective. We can’t bring them with us, nevertheless send them somewhere without an escort.”

“Did any of them have energy weapons?” Rumcake brightly asked. I shot him a dirty look and he simply replied, “What? I have priorities.”

On that thought, I wasn’t really sure if they had any energy weapons. With the low light conditions and just me being a little tired, I wasn’t really sure. “Maybe? I mean, it’s a possibility. I don’t think it’s really worth it.”

A pebble bounced off the side of my head. “No, buck you! We rescue them. Anything is better than being a slave in the Wasteland,” Sparkle retorted, completely and pointedly ignoring Rumcake’s questionable priorities. Maybe she had a slightly valid point. Even my short time in captivity was terrible.

“Last time I checked, dead wasn’t any better,” I spat, adjusting Dad’s hat on my head. Inside, I really wanted to rescue them too.

Violet spoke up. “Wait a sec, anypony here have any bomb disposal training?” We all looked at each other, hoping somepony would either raise a hoof or ask why. When nopony said or did anything, she followed up with, “So I take it none of you have any idea about the bomb collars then?” I cocked my head and nearly opened my mouth to ask exactly how stupid she was. “Just by Frosty’s dumb expression, I can hazard a guess all of you forgot about those.”

Oh right, she hadn’t been around for my bomb collar days.

Still, insults demanded retaliation! “I can defuse an overloaded plasma charge in ten seconds flat,” I lamely shot back. Conveniently enough, defusing or disposing of anything energy-related that was also about to detonate generally involved throwing and getting to a safe distance. “And yes, I did forget about the bomb collars.”

“Doesn’t mean we can’t do our best, though. If we can kill the slavers fast enough, they won’t have time to detonate the collars!” Sparkle insisted. “There’s five of us and three of them. We can take ‘em!” She brandished her repaired grenade launcher and stomped her hooves on the ground.

We looked at each other again. We were at an impasse, and it just so happened that Rumcake needed to make the final decision. He looked at me, then to Sparkle.

“If it helps, I don’t really care what we do,” I simply stated, trying to help him along. “As long as we don’t get killed too brutally, I have no problems.” I had no fear, just doubt.

Rumcake stared at me, then Sparkle, then to Tangerine, and finally at Violet. “Yeah, I don’t think we can really be bothered. As shitty of a situation they’re in, I don’t think we’d do much good either. Slavers are usually quick on the draw with those detonators. Let’s just hoof it to that diner that Violet wants to sit in.”

So then that was that. That was a whole lot of potential loot and good karma that was slowly ambling away, but Rumcake was probably right. Fighting them was probably more trouble than they were worth.

Blue smoke wafted past my nose. “Calm down, loot whore. Caps will be caps, and it’s not like you don’t already have enough random crap you’re not using,” Ice drawled. “Besides, you should be keeping an eye out for some fags.”

I turned to my left and raised an eyebrow at my ethereal gun-toting badass. “Excuse me?”

Ice floated out a crumpled carton of cigarettes and shook it at me, its meager contents glumly bouncing against each other. “I’m low on smokes. Get with the lingo already.”

“You did that on purpose,” I accused him, narrowing my eyes at him as well. Like any good cryptic messenger, he gave me an encouraging cocky grin before fading away into blue dust. Funnily enough, this time he left behind wispy hoofprints and a flattened cigarette butt. Wait, had he done that before as well?

I was snapped out of my psychotic reverie by the all-clear signal. “Come on in, the water’s fine,” Sparkle called out to us. “But seriously, the water’s still working. Amazing, huh?” she said on our way in. Working water? Rumcake was in the middle of demonstrating it by eagerly sucking at the slightly rusty tap at the counter. His helmet was off, obviously, and precariously rocked on top of a ruined display case.

The whole time that I had been being angry and insane, the Rangers were securing the diner that we had seen on the road. Over-hydration complete, Rumcake mentioned that he wasn’t happy with the diner due to its small nature and the number of exposed entrances, but it was either that or the probably-infested warehouse farther down the road that I had spotted on a reconnaissance flyover. Me, I was standing on my own across the street and behind an exposed pipe. The two unicorns were on the other side of the pipe quietly discussing various magical things that I still didn’t understand.

The rest of the diner hadn’t fared any better, evidenced by broken tables, chairs and plenty of superficial damage to the walls and floors. The two butterfly-printed medical strongboxes on the walls had both been broken into and their contents stolen long ago. The diner itself was designed somewhat like an oval-shaped dartboard, with the counter being the center ring, followed by chairs, walkway, then more tables. The windows, or the lack thereof, followed those.

“You really didn’t think of being this exposed, did you?” Violet asked, looking out the very same windows I was. “We’ll get sniped if we even sneeze wrong.”

“It was either rest now, or probably get shot at or eaten. Which would you prefer? And it was your idea, too,” I snapped back with a scowl. Outside, darkness was falling. “If you’re going to bitch about it you go and find somewhere else to hunker down for the night.”

The second I saw the determined look in Violet’s eyes, I was actually worried that she’d actually go out there and look. She opened her muzzle to say something, then closed it when Tangerine pulled Violet’s shoulder, hard. “Don’t. It’s been a long day; worse for some more than others.” Tangerine then glared at me. “So quit your fighting and help me with these tables.”

I hovered backward and held up my hooves in surrender. “Fine, fine. What do you need me to do, then? Especially with those tables.”

With a creak and a wrenching noise, one of the window side tables freed itself from its rusty mountings, assisted by an orange aura, and slammed itself against the wall. Tangerine had effectively created a barricade to cover the space where the window was before. “We can cover some of the windows so we have some kind of safety.” She paused for a second in thought. “Actually, Violet is probably better for this. Nevermind.”

The brown mare pranced past me with a smug expression on her face. “Not my fault I’m just plain better.” She smirked, and proceeded to help the others in barricading the windows.

I was feeling useless at the moment, since I wasn’t moving tables or bolting them to the walls. Of course I could have helped, but I wasn’t needed. Thankfully, Rumcake noticed me aimlessly hovering in place before I drove myself crazy trying to figure out what to do with myself.

“Frosty?” My ears perked up to the sound of Rumcake’s voice. “Could you go up and keep watch while we finish this up?”

I saluted. “Aye aye, captain.” With that, I hopped out of the diner via the hole in the roof and perched myself on top. As the darkness continued to fall, being able to actually see was about to become a problem. Still, I kept my eyes open for any possible threats to us. Being up on watch also gave me time alone to myself, which I was starting to find somewhat annoying.

“Never gets old, does it?” I heard my voice say next to me. I twisted around in surprise. Light fabric swished in the breeze as a very familiar set of teal hooves gently touched down on the metal roof beside me.

Begrudgingly, I answered Gala Frosty. I didn’t even want to begin thinking how this was possible at all. How was she out here, in the real world? “Nope.” I sighed, continuing to apathetically stare out into the wastes.

“Kinda makes you wanna…”

“—Break into song?” I finished, studying her suspiciously neater appearance. If only I took time out of my day to comb my mane to a lustrous sheen and don spotless fancy clothing tailored perfectly to my figure. Oh well.

And just in time, Filly poked her head out from under Gala’s dress. “Yup! Everypony sing it with me…”

I slammed my claw against the roof’s weathered steel plates. Too late, I realized there were other ponies below me probably wondering what had just happened. “No. Just no,” I flatly stated, keeping my voice as low as possible. “I know the bucking song, and the last thing I need is that tiny little part of it endlessly looping in my head while I’m trying to sleep tonight.”

Just like any self-respecting foal, Filly looked me right in the eyes and began to hum the tune just loudly enough so I could hear it. At least she squeaked and dove back under Gala Frosty’s dress when I snarled menacingly at both of them.

“Everything okay up there?” Rumcake called out.

Right, I’d made a bunch of noise earlier by stomping on the roof. “Yeah! I, uh, fell down some stairs,” I blatantly lied. Quickly, I scanned the terrain around the diner we were fortifying for threats. “But it looks all clear from up here.”

There was a loud clatter from below. “Great, great. Ow!”

“Sorry, didn’t see ya there,” Sparkle apologized.

“You hit me with a chair!”

“Sorry!”

I had to facehoof at their antics. It was hard to believe that these were the soldiers I was trusting my life with. “Sounds like you four are having a harder time down there. Need a hoof?” I jokingly called down to them. Well, they were the idiots I trusted the most in this dark, grim wasteland. Especially my Rumcake.

A small dark blur scampered across the landscape and disappeared behind the remains of a fenced-off giant blank billboard. Hm. It was probably just a radhog or radscorpion, but it was too dark to see anything anymore. I decided to trust my judgement on this one and decide it could probably have been a radhog looking for food.

“So what’re you two here for?” I asked my two imaginary counterparts, without looking away from the wasteland.

Gala gave me a puzzled look. “Whatcha mean? Something wrong with enjoying the view?”

By the way she grinned at me, she knew I knew that couldn’t have been the reason. Filly was nowhere to be found, probably and hopefully she had gone back to the confines of my mind. But this was still a problem: first Ice Storm, now these two were here. Calling this a problem was going to be an understatement. Keep it together, Frosty. No going full-blown insane until I die.

“You know what I’m talking about,” I shot back, all the while watching the other dark dot stumbling its way across the last rays of light. It was nowhere near us and it wasn’t getting any closer, so I ignored it as a threat. “You shouldn’t be here.”

I could tell that Gala was smirking at me because I suddenly felt the need to laugh. “What? I’m not allowed to come out and stretch my wings?” She giggled, brushing the underside of my chin with the tip of her wing. The way the feather actually tickled me meant that I couldn’t have been hallucinating. Right?

I looked around and sighed. Without any better lighting or night vision, there was no way I was going to see anything. Granted, my vision was good, but complete darkness was where I started being useless. In addition, Gala had conveniently disappeared back to my frazzled mind when I had turned around. Well, I guess she didn’t want to wait for me to come up with a snarky response.

As it turned out, talking to Gala barely killed half an hour. That left me with the dreary, boring, very uneventful wasteland to stare at. Just to stave off boredom, I kept alternating between scanning the surroundings and neatly organizing my caps into stacks.

The clatter of metal on metal caused me to involuntarily twitch in surprise. I whipped around to find that a makeshift ladder had been erected so that everypony that didn’t have wings could also access the roof. “Group meeting. Your coltfriend demands it,” Violet droned, poking her head out.

The interior of the diner had dramatically changed in my absence. The windows had been barricaded, chairs had been stacked against the aforementioned barricades, and obviously the ladder had been added as well. All of the Rangers, Violet included, had set up their sleeping bags and cots behind the round counter where they would be the most protected. I realized that there wasn’t any space for me behind the counter since all the available space was taken up by all the other ponies’ stuff.

“Before we start the meeting, may I ask where I’m going to sleep?” I asked in a slightly annoyed tone. All I did was keep watch for—I checked my Pipbuck, which helpfully told me it was eleven thirty-ish at night—several hours, and suddenly I didn’t have anywhere to sleep. Great. What didn’t help was everypony staring at me.

Rumcake and Sparkle both had their armor stripped down to just the chestplates and weapon mounts. Tangerine had her robes off, for once, and Violet was already sitting on her bedroll reading her book. “Well, you can sleep with me,” Rumcake immediately answered, much faster than anypony anticipated.

Everypony then decided it was a great idea to stare at Rumcake next. “I’m going to guess you were planning that the entire time and leave it at that.” I sighed.

Tangerine clopped her hooves together loudly. “Okay, what are we doing, Commander?”

“Right. As I was going to say, this place is locked down. We’ll stay the night and roll out tomorrow morning when we’re rested. Since I lack the ability to wake up, and I happen to be the highest rank here, I’m taking first watch. Any volunteers for next?”

“Dibs on second,” I piped up, raising my claw in the air.

“Last watch!” Tangerine immediately followed.

A low groan from Sparkle probably meant she didn’t want any of the remaining spots left. Violet, you’re on fourth watch.” When Violet didn’t even look up from her book, Rumcake said in a slightly louder voice, “Violet? Did you hear me?”

There was a pretty good chance the bookworm hadn’t heard us. All we got was a partial head tilt and a half-assed “Hm? Yeah, whatever.” Hopefully Sparkle could get Violet to understand why both of them had to wake up in the middle of the night to stare at absolutely nothing interesting.

“As for our itinerary: we’ve been tasked with investigating an unopened Stable somewhere in the area. Tangerine, you have the coordinates, right?” Rumcake asked, looking to her for confirmation. After receiving a nod from the orange scribe, he continued speaking. “After that, things get a bit sketchy. The good Inquisitor thinks something’s going down at Stable Twenty-Nine, so we’re apparently going to investigate firsthoof. Inquisitor Soufflé isn't one to trust only radio transmissions.” Right after Rumcake started talking about Stables and stuff, I completely stopped paying attention.

“I’m just going to pop out for another fly-around,” I added.

Rumcake pointed his hoof at me. “And there’s where things get dodgy again. Frosty, you’re no longer allowed to go anywhere far without me.”

It was like every nerve ending in my brain melted down. Excuse me? “What?” I blurted, losing balance as my wings flapped out of sync. “Woah!” I fell off the counter I was standing on with an ungraceful dive. Once I regained my footing, I asked, “Wait, wanna run that by me again?”

This time, Rumcake looked me right in the eye. “I’m coming with you. There’s no way I’m going to let you drive yourself into the ground. All you do is do stupid shit and take risks that’ll get you killed.”

“I’m perfectly fine.” I asserted.

“Frosty, you have developed multiple personality disorder, sustained severe mental and physical trauma, and you have a history of drug abuse ever since you got to the surface, not to mention whatever you did above the cloud layer,” Violet helpfully informed everypony. “I’d say fine is the least descriptive word.”

How did she know about that? “Sorry, she got into my notes for like, less than five minutes,” Tangerine apologized. That answered that then.

There wasn’t really much that I could really say against that. “Well…” My retort died on my lips. “I can get better?” I weakly suggested. Of course nopony bought it, but I couldn’t come up with anything better.

Good thing Sparkle came to my rescue by changing the topic. “About Stable Twenty-Nine, what’s got Soufflé’s jimmies all shaken up? Last I checked, that’s Rangers’ territory, right?”

“It is,” Tangerine butted in. “But there’s been rumors of dissent coming from them. By the sounds of it, about a third of the Rangers stationed there are ready to break off.” And I thought Enclave military relations were bad. “Orders from Soufflé are to assess the situation and report back.”

Wow, some real big brother shit going down, huh?

Time to zone out, Frosty.

Agreed.

While they were doing their thing, I had stealthily maneuvered to Rumcake’s bedroll and already gotten my three boots off without incident. Taking the greaves off was an entirely different matter, however. My hooves and armored limbs repeatedly bounced off each other as I attempted to undo the catch on the underside of my right greave with my claw. “Buckin’… why’s this thing stuck?” I muttered to myself.

“That’s because you haven’t cleaned or lubed any of the hinges ever since you got that flying suit,” Rumcake softly whispered into my ear. In response, I playfully whapped his nose with a flick of my ear. “Here, let me help.” His brown hoof reached over and undid the first clasp with ease.

I shook out my freed foreleg as Rumcake went to work on the remaining parts of my armor that I still couldn’t remove on my own. Okay, it was more like I no longer wanted to try just so Rumcake would continue, heh, undressing me. Now only if we had the diner to ourselves, maybe I’d see some action other than getting shot at.

We piled up my discarded armor in a somewhat neat pile beside the bedroll. At the moment, I patiently laid on my stomach and waited for Rumcake to finish unbuckling my wing plates so that I could have a bit more comfort. With them I was armored, but I desperately just wanted to air out my wings. Power armor got a lot more sweaty than I thought it would.

There was a loud pair of clicks from my back. “Ha! Got it,” Rumcake triumphantly pumped his hoof in the air. “But seriously, take a day off to oil this stuff. You have no idea how rusted some of these joints are. The only reason you don’t notice is because your armor makes you strong enough to ignore it.”

Begrudgingly, I nodded. “Fine, I’ll clean it. Eventually.”

Rumcake struggled with trying to take off the rest of my armor, to little success. “Well, I can’t get this one off because the clamp’s just stuck.”

“Oh well.” I sighed. There went my plans for comfort and sexy times. “We’re in a combat zone, so I wasn’t really planning on taking this off anyway.” I hammered the collar of my armor for emphasis.

I felt heavy weight settle on my back. “Mnmh. Hey, make yourself comfortable. I’ll wake you when it’s your turn to keep watch,” Rumcake muttered. The weight lifted as he stomped away.

“Have fun, Cakey.” I gave him an awkward sideways kiss on the cheek for good luck or something. At the time, it seemed like the best fillyfriend move to do. Too bad I hadn’t ever had much practice in that department.

At the top of the ladder, Rumcake said, “Nighty-night, Frosty.” And then in a slightly more hushed tone as he tromped across the roof, “Wait, that’s not a nickname…”

~~~~~

In light of impending death, my brain problems, and the ridiculously lumpy bedspread I was on, I was incredibly surprised at how easily I fell into a dreamless, dark, coma-like state. The last thing I remembered doing while awake was preening my feathers and cooling myself by leaving my wings spread out. When I was rudely poked and prodded back to life, I tucked my head under my right wing and groaned something vaguely threatening.

“C’mon Sweet Cheeks… wake up. It’s your turn,” Rumcake whispered.

I groaned again. “Mnnh… Sw’t Cheeks? That the best you came up with?”

A hoof grabbed the edge of my wing and pulled it up, bringing harsh bright light with it. “I literally spent a few hours on that. Shut up.”

Since I obviously wasn’t going to get back to sleep, I stretched out and hugely yawned. Too bad we didn’t have any insta-ground powdered coffee to start the day with. My mind wandered to the “coffee” mixture that I drank a few days ago and I arbitrarily decided I was a tea sort of pony now. “Greeeh,” was all I managed to say to him.

“Well, good morning to you too, sunshine.” Rumcake’s voice came out tinny and ever-so slightly echo-y because of the lamp he was wearing on his head. Okay, it was actually just his helmet light, but damn was it strong! I kept my eyes closed and draped my right foreleg over my my muzzle to protect myself from the glare. He got the hint and turned it off.

I grabbed Dad’s cap off the ground where it had fallen off my head and gave it a good dust-liberating shake before securing it on my head. “Gimme a minute to grab my sniper cannon.” I yawned, carefully retrieving all the parts of my anti-machine rifle and did my best to put it together in a timely manner while still half-asleep. It turned out a Frosty-minute was along the lines of about three or four minutes, for the record.

With my rifle in hoof, I lazily flew up through the hole and plopped myself behind the raised edge of the roof. Since I couldn’t see in the dark all that well, I opted out for the velocity attachment instead of the scope. A moment later, I was joined by Rumcake.

“Don’t worry, I know how to keep watch,” I assured him.

A snort. “I would hope so.”

“So… what? Can’t sleep?” Yet another dot scampered across the wasteland, shortly followed by another. “Hm. There are a lot of things awake at night,” I observed.

Rumcake sat down next to me. “Yes to both of those.” For some reason, he still had his helmet on. “I was wondering, though. What did you used to do in the Enclave?” he asked, shifting his weight slightly.

“You’ll have to be more specific.”

“Like, military stuff I guess.”

“Well…” A slightly sensitive topic, but I knew just enough to give him the general overview. “I was part of a reconnaissance team. We’d get missions from higher-up to go check places out. As for as I know, our squad was used as some kind of recovery team or something. I’m not really sure what else we did.”

“So… you just flew around looking at things,” Rumcake incorrectly summarized.

I facewinged. “Not really. If something needs to be cased from anywhere, you call scout teams. Those buckers get good at infiltration and stealth. Otherwise, recon teams usually do all the things in-between. Smash and grabs, stakeouts, sometimes assassinations, that kind of thing.” Or in my case, weird recovery missions. As an afterthought, I added, “You?”

My coltfriend scratched his helmet, stopped, took off his helmet, then actually scratched his head. Ah, one of the many reasons I loved him. “I pretty much assign Paladins to go do things and Knights to go fix things. Periodically, I go out into the field to break the monotony of yelling at Initiates and stuff.”

“Ooo. Fancy big shot over here.” I giggled.

I heard Rumcake quietly laugh under his breath. “About a month and a half ago—maybe a week before I met you—I was out on a patrol with a few Junior Paladins to show them the ropes, stuff like that. We were on our way to clean out an abandoned Stable-Tec building, and we get jumped by a roving band of marauders.”

I took a moment to look away from the wasteland to raise my hooves to my face in mock despair. “Oh no! What did they want?” After I delivered that stunning example of acting, I went back to observing another blob retreating into the distance along the road. Stupid low—er, no light surveillance.

“They wanted our weapons and gear.”

“Mm? Then what?” The dot was practically invisible now. One less thing to worry about, assuming it didn’t come back.

Rumcake chuckled. “I dropped a pie plate on all four of them.”

I blankly stared out at the road. “A what now?”

“Launched a frag round at them before any of my scrubs reacted. Cleaned ‘em right off the cliff before they had time to fire their missile.”

Eh. I had to admit, that was pretty eh of him. “And you became the big hero, right?”

“Of course! Everypony was going on about my epic snapshot for days! Well, that is, until you showed up.” Rumcake sighed, then took out the small orange pouch I’d seen around his neck at one point. He stared at it for a moment, then put it away again.

Most of me wanted to ask what it was, but I didn’t want to give him the impression that I wasn’t keeping watch just because I was good at multitasking. “I wish I could be a hero,” I mumbled. “Though you can keep the rank. I don’t care much about that.”

“Why’s that?”

Now I regretted saying that. If he wanted to know… “You know I’m a sniper. All it takes it the push of a button, a click of a trigger, and whatever I’m pointing at dies. Other ponies tell me what to point at, and I do my job.” Speaking of which, I took aim at a vaguely pony-shaped blob. “I’ve done bad things, Cakey.” I pulled my rifle back once I realized I was about to dematerialize a tumbleweed half-obscured by a crumbling wall. “I’ve learned things about myself that I don’t want to know. Then again, I wasn’t really expecting much less.”

There was silence as both of us simply kept watch. We knew that we were about to run into some really uncomfortably touchy conversation. I could tell him about the food recovery mission that I retrieved from a memory, but I wasn’t sure if I should. Would he also see me as a monster? That little tidbit from my nightmare still broke my heart just enough to hurt.

“I’m no hero, and I never will be. There are things I’ve done, ponies I’ve killed, that I don’t want to talk about. I don’t save ponies. I kill them.” My tears began to blur my vision, compromising the task at hoof. “And it takes much less out of me if I can tell myself I’m following orders,” I confessed, letting out a big sigh. “Doesn’t help that I can’t take responsibility very well either.”

“Frosty…” There was a soft clank as Rumcake’s hoof placed itself on my back.

I tried to casually laugh everything off, but it came out as a half-giggled sob. “For the goddesses’ sake, everything’s changed since I got trapped down here.” Very carefully, I dropped the bipod on my rifle and placed my gun on the ground. I held out my metal prosthetic leg. “I didn’t have this before I got left for dead. I never asked for this.”

Beside me, Rumcake nervously swallowed. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

“What doesn’t kill you makes you wish it did,” I spat.

More silence. “O-kay… maybe we need to change the subject. I’m sorry I brought it up,” Rumcake apologized, giving me an encouraging head rub. “Did you ever, uh, play hide-and- seek?”

I was wiping tears from my face when I answered. “We played search and destroy. Losers lost their dessert privileges. We didn’t have carrot cake for months at a time.”

“Sounds… a bit excessive.” Rumcake held out a small, mostly clean blue rag which I accepted gratefully.

Upon wiping my eyes, I felt something thick and slimy smudge itself across my lower cheek. I used the outer edge of my claw and scraped whatever it was off and stared at it. “Grease? Really?” The offending grease got wiped onto Rumcake’s coat, right below his cutie mark. “Thanks.”

“Wow, thanks.” Rumcake snatched the rag from me and began frantically wiping. “That’s never going to come off.” I angrily pointed at the dark smudge on my face. “Okay, fine. That won’t come off easily either.” He licked the back of his hoof a few times and scooted over to me. “Let me wipe that off for you.”

“Huh?” I had enough time to turn my head and get a hoof-full of spit rubbed against my cheek. “Hey, the heck?” Rumcake held me in place as he continued to rub vigorously. From somewhere else, somepony else was protesting as well. Even as I tried to point my ears at the source of the sound, he wouldn’t stop fussing about the spot on my face.

Very faintly, I heard, “—ves hurt, and we’re stopping now!”

“Brevity, hol’ yerself. An’ keep it down, fer cryin’ out loud!” A much deeper, hushed voice. Old, male, probably the leader by the sounds of it. “Anypony could be out here.”

I fumbled for my rifle. “Cakey! Stop!” I urgently whispered. When he didn’t, I gave him a swift sucker punch to his throat. While he staggered backward and choked on his lungs, I quickly snatched up my rifle and trained it on the five dark shapes approaching us. “Five tangos, closing in at walking speed.”

“Hnk… was that necessary?” Rumcake coughed. In case I tried it again, he grabbed his helmet and put it on.

“Shh!” Full mag, one in the chamber. Safety off. “Looks like Wastelanders to me. Shabby armor, average weapon quality. Three earth, two unicorn. Advise.” One of them was wearing some kind of large helmet-like apparatus which made an excellent target.

The barrel of my rifle dipped. I swatted the hoof away in mild annoyance and fixed its owner with a death glare. “Don’t worry, I’ve got it,” Rumcake assured me. He cleared his throat and poked a button on his helmet. “Fellow Wastelanders, halt in thine advances.” There was a horrendously frightening squeal of feedback. I used my one free hoof to cover one of my ears. Below us, the Wastelanders did the same. “Sorry!

“Princess? Is that you?” a very small, young voice squeaked.

Sure, let’s go with that.” Rumcake had to suppress a snort. “They think I’m a princess. Ha!” He turned his voice changer back on. “Now get those hooves in the air!

Several pairs of hooves reached for the clouds. “Really?” I whispered, taking my sights off the group. “What’s next? You going to make them wave them?”

“Great idea. Wave them. Your princess demands it!” Hooves frantically waved back and forth.

As evil as this was—posing as a deity, abusing said position, and frightening innocent Wastelanders—it definitely was just a tiny bit funny.

Now bring me every mug you find.

“Wh-what kind?” This was a new voice, frustratingly androgynous and young.

Rumcake looked at me. “What should I say?”

“You don’t know? This is your show, after all.” I rolled my eyes and searched for any other threats that weren’t being yelled at in front of us. “Just make something up.”

“What color are mugs?”

“Seriously?”

“What? We usually don’t take those with us when we repossess prewar tech.”

On that note, I’d forgotten what colors the mugs were too. “Uh. They’re white. Right? Mostly white, kinda dirty?”

Your princess demands all the white sparkly mugs!

Some of the Wastelanders reverently bowed and began walking down the road once more, pursued by the remainder of their party. Just as a precaution, I trained my sights on the large one in the back. Could never be too careful in some cases, especially if they found out their “princess” was a crazy stallion with a megaphone.

We continued to watch them disappear into the darkness. I pulled my rifle back and folded the bipod. “I swear to Luna, if you just started a religion…”

Rumcake whipped off his helmet in one swift motion. “Don’tcha worry about it.” He wrapped his hoof around the back of my neck and pulled me into a kiss that I wasn’t expecting at all. I threw caution to the wind and returned the kiss. I tried to pull away from him when I heard somepony coming up the ladder. Even for decency’s sake, he wouldn’t stop.

Sparkle poked her head up from the ladder. “Yo guys, I’m awake for my shif— Oookay, I can come back later.” With that, she disappeared back to ground level.

Finally, I managed to break away for air. “Why do you have a vacuum for a face?” I gasped. “Seriously!”

“He gets horny when he’s tiiiireed!” Sparkle chimed.

“Do not!” Rumcake shot back.

To add insult to injury, Tangerine was also awake. Turned out the Canterlot voice changer was loud enough to wake everypony downstairs as well. “Didn’t you try to make out with Paladin Fruit Punch that one time?”

“It was just once!”

“Three times.”

“How the hay do you remember that?”

“She broke your nose the third time.”

Rumcake tapped his nose thoughtfully. “Right.”

Most of me felt insulted. “Three times?” I mouthed to Rumcake. “Really?”

“What? I was young, naive, and really bucking horny. Don’t give me that look,” he shamefully muttered back.

“And then there was that time with Junior P—” Tangerine continued, undeterred.

With surprising quickness, Rumcake sat up and snapped, “Stop right there before I kill you. We don’t talk about that.”

Tangerine sounded like she choked on something. “You’re too lazy to do the work.”

“Hm?” I mumbled, barely even paying attention anymore.

“You would not believe the paperwork it takes to kill somepony,” Rumcake muttered back, still rubbing his nose. “That doesn’t even include the debriefing.”

Paper? Here in the Wasteland? That seemed like a laughably impractical use for it. Back in the Enclave, paper was hard to come by because of the lack of excess trees and tree substitutes. “And how, may I ask, do you have enough paper for that?”

“We retrieved enough terminals to re-invent the informal office correspondence. No paper, just digital updates. It’s terrible.” Rumcake picked up his helmet and squeezed his head into it. “I hate desk work.”

The two of us swapped places with Sparkle, who was on next watch. Once I told her about the fairly active wildlife and to keep her eyes open, I flew down the ladder and landed on top of Rumcake.

“Hey, watch it!” Rumcake protested.

“Not my fault you’re in the way. Eep!” With utmost ease and care, I was gently flipped onto my back. I tried to squirm away, but several hundred pounds of hunky Steel Ranger and part of his armor piled onto me first.

There was a very annoyed groan from nearby. “Will you two lovebirds just shut up?” Violet rolled over. “I was having a perfectly sexy lucid dream until the bucking prince of the night completely ruined it with a steamroller-powered voice.”

“Sorry for having a social life,” I sarcastically apologized.

“My condolences.” Violet flipped back over to her other side and flattened her pillow over her head. “Now shut up.”

“What she said,” Tangerine added, doing the same.

Going to sleep seemed to be a good idea. “Maybe we should be quiet and just sleep,” I whispered to Rumcake.

“I’d like to see you try after I’m done with you.” The helmet came off once more as a hoof trailed down the side of my body and stopped on my thigh.

Against every fiber of my being, I pushed the hoof away. Sure, I wanted it—but here and now was a bad time. This was unknown territory, not to mention there were many other ponies here and no walls to separate us. Maybe later, hopefully.

“Let’s just sleep. I’m tired and I’m not in the mood either.” I managed to escape Rumcake’s crushing body mass and sprawled myself all over his back, much to his amusement. We tossed and turned with each other for a while, playfully fighting for the single blanket. I hadn’t noticed how tired I was until I fell asleep during a lull in our skirmish.

~~~~~

YO. SUP.” I woke to the comforting sight of the deathpony Mort staring me in the face. My first reaction was to scream like the little filly I was, fall onto my rump, and scoot as far away from him as possible.

We were in a gray, empty plain populated by just Mort and me. Where were the other versions of me? There weren’t even any fake clouds anywhere. At least there wasn’t anything visibly metal around, so I knew I wasn’t in Officer Frosty’s territory.

YOU KNOW WHY I’M HERE.

“No! Buck you! There is no way in Tartarus I just died,” I shouted, throwing the first thing I heard my claw collide with. A plush green throw pillow fulfilled its sole purpose in life and bounced off Mort’s skeletal head. In my fearful haste, I hadn’t noticed what he was wearing. “Are you… are you wearing a suit?”

The incarnation of death was wearing a gaudy pastel green, ill-fitting three piece suit with his standard hood tucked into the collar. The legs were obviously too loose, the chest was too tight, and his equally green tie was too long. He also looked just as uncomfortable as his suit, which I got a chuckle out of.

JUST KIDDING. I HAVE JURY DUTY TODAY.” Mort pulled an ornate golden pocket watch out of his suit jacket. “IT DOESN’T START FOR ANOTHER TEN MINUTES.

“So… I’m not dead?” I asked, letting out a relieved sigh.

IS IT WRONG FOR ME TO JUST VISIT MY FAVORITE NUTCASE?” Mort attempted to fiddle with the length of his tie, with much difficulty. “Stupid tie…

“Okay, you’re just making me mad. There is no way you’ve had that tie for that long and not know how to tie it.” I reached out with my claw and grabbed the tie’s knot, which came off of Mort’s collar with a snap. "Oh. It’s just a really bad clip-on.” I stared at it in dumbstruck awe. “Well, that’s just your problem then.”

Mort’s “voice” died down a little as he went from intoning to just talking. “Yeah, it is. By the way—

“Hm?”

—you might want to WAKE UP.

~~~~~

On Mort’s prompt, I found myself bolting to my hooves, my claw already gripping my rifle’s handle and bringing it to bear at… nothing. “The buck?” I whispered to myself, carefully flying myself over Rumcake’s sleeping form. Thankfully, he hadn’t decided to hold me like a teddy bear this time. “The buck was that? Premonition? A warning? Hallucin—ah, screw it.” It was too early to deal with metaphysical mumbo jumbo.

Crunch. Snap. Ka-click. Crunch. Shuffle. Somepony armed and very bad at sneaking was trying to get around us! More scuffling and noises of metal on metal became more audible as I started paying attention. I closed my eyes and kept listening in order to figure out what was happening. “Two behind, three on the left, one on the right,” I told nopony in particular. “We’re going to get surrounded.”

A quick survey of who wasn’t present revealed that Violet was supposed to be on watch. I stealthily made my way to the roof, and when I got there, I nearly screamed in frustration. The impossible smartass mare had fallen asleep at her post! She wasn’t even facing the right direction! “Next asswipe that takes a step eats lead!” I yelled into the dim light of the morning.

I heard hooves stop in their tracks. On the other side of the street, there were definitely a few pony-esque shapes hiding in the ditch next to the road. One of them decided to hazard a peek over the edge, which was about to be the last thing he/she/it did.

I toggled S.A.T.S. to make sure I made a lasting statement. Head? No, I wanted him alive. Using little head motions, I scrolled through the options open to me. Torso? With a five percent chance, I didn’t think so. Left hoof? Sure, I had an eighty-seven percent chance. I left that possibility open and searched for others. Eyes. The buck? Eyes? Why would I need to do that? Even at a ninety-five percent chance, I wasn’t going to do that. A warning shot needed to be a warning. With no better options, I targeted the left hoof.

An ear-shattering crack broke the relative silence, accompanied by an explosion of bone and gore from my target. Based on the scream of pain, he was launched backward into the pit by the force of impact. Wait. I had a gun that fired bullets the size of other guns. As the unfortunate buck wailed, cursed, and bled out, I realized that I hadn’t thought my strategy through once again.

“Sorry!” I shouted. “That was supposed to be a warning shot.” Nevertheless, I chambered the next round. Beside me, Violet spasmed and scrambled awake. Unceremoniously, I shoved her in the direction of the ladder and made a circling motion with my hoof. If the others weren’t awake now, I was hoping she would wake them.

“Warning shot? His whole leg’s off!” the reply came, nearly drowned out by pained screaming.

“It’s just a flesh wound,” I grumbled, carefully peeking over the edge to spit a loogie onto the raider taking cover next to the wall under me. “I see you down there! Back off.”

Sparkle appeared next to me, fully armored. “How many?”

“Seven around, five, maybe more, in the ditch,” I told her. “Let me guess—Rumcake’s still asleep.”

“Mmhm.”

I heard clanking behind me. “What’s going on?” Violet asked, a panicked tone added to her voice. Her book floated past my hooves and safely into hers. “Why’s somepony trying to break down the back door?”

The grenade launcher on Sparkle’s battle saddle unfolded. “I got it.” She took two steps to the hole in the roof and simply dropped to the ground floor with a heavy thud. Something splintered shortly thereafter, probably the back door. “Hellooo, boys!” There were a series of deafening explosions and meaty splats that probably meant the raiders behind us had been taken care of.

“Back your boys up or you’ll be picking them off the walls!” I shouted at the shapes in the ditch.

Very cautiously, a head poked out just enough to yell “Fall back!” and quickly dropped back to the safety of the trench. Four raiders retreated back to the trench. “We only want the Rangers. Give ‘em up.”

I went back to the hole in the roof and poked my head in. “Hey guys, they said they want ‘the Rangers’. You want to surrender? Should I surrender? Do I count?”

“Well, I don’t think so. Any of you feel like giving up?” Sparkle asked the others.

We all heard the extensive loud yawn. “What’z happ’n?” Rumcake groggily asked, still rubbing sleep from his eyes.

“Not much. Like, a bunch of guys are across the street and demanding ‘the Rangers’ give up and turn themselves over,” I casually mentioned. “Nothing new.”

Rumcake yawned again. “Okay.” Another yawn, followed by face rub into bedroll. “Tell ‘em to go buck themselves so we can go back to sleep.”

I nodded. No arguments here. After politely waiting for everypony else’s opinion, which was generally the same, I withdrew my head to deliver the response. Apparently Sparkle had different plans for them, because she stopped me before I had time to turn around. “Hold up, I got this, li’l sis.” She picked up a steel rod off the ground and carefully climbed the ladder to the roof. “HEY ASSHOLES! GO BUCK YOURSELVES!” She threw the rod in their general direction. “HERE, THIS’LL HELP!”

By the sound of her smug satisfaction, I could tell one thing. “You’ve been waiting to pull that one for a while, huh?”

“You would not believe it.” Sparkle giggled, carefully making her way down the ladder.

Metal clinked on metal, and a small round metal sphere dropped into the room. Simultaneously, every military mind in the vicinity had the exact same outburst. “GRENADE!” Both unicorns did the smart thing and dove for cover. Rumcake lazily rolled away and presented his mostly-armored back to it. Sparkle scrambled back up the ladder. I stared at my claw and got an idea.

I located the grenade and grabbed it in my claw. “Hot potato!” Very quickly, I flung the explosive so hard it must have gone into orbit. An explosion above us meant that we were safe. Everypony breathed a sigh of relief. “Well, that’s solved.”

“We’re still stuck here, genius,” Violet gasped, clambering back over the chair she’d taken cover behind.

She was right. As long as those raiders were over there, we wouldn’t be leaving. Unless… “Hold on, I have an idea.”

“Uh oh.”

“The back door’s blown, so we can leave out of that. Problem is, they’re going to notice if we suddenly leave. We need a distraction.” Bits and pieces of ideas in my head started coming together. “And I have the perfect idea.”

“Oh no.” This time, Rumcake sat up and glared at me. “I don’t want to hear one of your stupid suicidal plans.”

Ouch. I winced inwardly, mentally berating myself for what I was about to say. “Uh, remember when I said I wouldn’t do anything stupid?” Rumcake slowly nodded. “Just one more?” I sadly smiled at him.

“No. I won’t allow it.” Rumcake planted himself in front of me, steadfast.

I fumbled with the catches on my armor. “Well, if you come up with a better idea…”

“Oh, and you’re going in without armor? No! I’m not letting you leave.”

I rolled my eyes. “Please. You haven’t even heard my plan.” The chest plate and back plates of my armor fell to the ground with a light thud. “It’s great!”

“Really now? Enlighten us, then.”

Rumcake continued to glare at me, so I told them what my plan was.

“That’s a terrible plan,” Violet flatly stated.

Tangerine looked uncomfortable. “I’m going to have to agree.”

“I’m not letting you leave,” Rumcake stated again.

It seemed like I didn’t have any supporters. Thankfully, Sparkle had my back once again. “You know, that’s stupid enough that it might work.” Wasn’t sure if it was a compliment, but I was taking what I could get.

I winked at Rumcake. “You can’t stop this.” With that, I whipped out my wings and launched myself through the hole in the roof. I only needed to go far enough to make it to the other side of the road, so I didn’t get too much height. At the apex of my launch, I pulled myself into a controlled spin and crashed into a conveniently placed raider in the ditch.

There was a moment of shocked awe from both parties. One raider came to his senses faster than I could pick myself up. “Kill him!”

I felt a bit insulted. “I’m a girl.”

Silence. “Kill her?” one of the other ones suggested.

“KILL HER!” In a snap, I was surrounded by seven and three-fourths raiders.

“Woah, woah, WOAH!” I backed up and raised my hooves and wings in the air. “I’m just here to negotiate!”

One of the raiders, an older eyepatched stallion wearing a particularly nice set of extra-spiky riot gear, slapped the raider next to him. “Let the lady talk.”

I sighed. “Thank you.”

“You have ten seconds.” Eyepatch took out a revolver and loaded it. “Starting… now.”

I took a deep breath. “The Rangers took me prisoner and forced me to work for them and now that they’re in trouble they took all my stuff and made me come out here to maybe come to a peaceful conclusion with your leader and PLEASE DON’T SHOOT ME!” I screamed at the end, cringing as the revolver’s barrel pressed against my forehead.

Eyepatch raider regarded me with his one good eye. “Fine.” He holstered his revolver. “Follow me.”

Very quickly, I was shoved out of the ditch and hustled down the alley between two abandoned buildings. At some point, we turned right and ended up in what looked like it used to be a garage. A hasty camp had been set up inside, but these weren’t raiders. Well, unless raiders routinely carried around giant cages full of slaves.

“Uh… which one’s your leader?” I shyly asked Eyepatch, who was still pulling me along. Besides Eyepatch and his friend that had followed us, there were only five other ponies in the camp. I hazarded a guess that the one wearing the gaudy crown was the leader, but I needed to be sure.

Eyepatch pointed out a different pony, this one wearing some impractically large armor which was offset by the silly bowler hat perched on his head. “Warboss Gork’s in charge. You get to talk to him, and make it quick.” Eyepatch grabbed me by the neck and looked me in my right eye. “For your sake, get to the point quickly. He doesn’t have a very good attention span.”

I was abruptly released and forcibly shoved at Warboss Gork. A small pile of rubble and steel that I tripped over caused me to lose my balance and I collided with his armored ass. I stumbled backward and ended up sitting down right on the spot. The more scary part was, the bucking ground shook when he started turning around. “Oi, wha’z dis git doin’ ‘ere?”

“You’re the leader here?” I asked, looking around for somepony less menacing.

“Dat’s me, and I call’z da shots.”

I was also expecting somepony more intelligent, for some reason. Oh well, it wouldn’t matter in a second. “And you are the leader, right?” I asked one more time, just making sure.

“Wot’s you not understandin’? I’s the boss.”

“Excellent.” I lunged forward and swung my claw at the Warboss as hard as I could. When the hit connected, the shotgun built into my metal leg went off, blasting bits of his head all over the far wall. Everypony in the room stared in shocked horror as I cooly strolled away from the headless corpse and ejected the spent shell from my ballistic claw. “Okay, now take me to your second in command.”


Footnote: Level up!
New Perk: Split Personalities (Level 2) – I’m not crazy. You’re crazy. No, you. Each of your sub-perk personas now has their own S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats. They do not have their own perks.
Current Sub-perk: Diplomacy – Remember thy Charlamane. You gain +8 to Speech

Author's Note:

If you’re reading this text, that means the story has been updated and this is the new and correct version.

Got a question? Ask Frosty!

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