• Published 9th Apr 2012
  • 11,811 Views, 1,115 Comments

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 3: Why does everypony have to pick me up?

Chapter 3: Why does everypony have to pick me up?

“Ultra Pony Roller Derby! Go!”

I gradually became aware of my surroundings as the dreamscape melted away. There was an antiseptic tang in the air, straps biting into my limbs and torso, and, worst of all, my head was a pounding mess of pain. I could feel the chill of the cold metal medical table spreading through my back. I didn’t even want to open my eyes because of the brightness in the room. I heard voices and faint hoofsteps, but couldn’t move to check where.

I tried to scratch my nose with my claw, but I only succeeded in hitting myself in the head with my stump. I managed to crack an eye open just enough to observe that my claw had been detached. I groaned and tried to open my other eye, only to shut it again after receiving an eye-searing amount of light that aggravated my poor brain. My neck itched too, on the side I couldn’t reach because of the straps. “Can someone turn the bucking light off?” I managed to groan.

The voices outside abruptly stopped and I heard somepony walk into the room. They turned on more lights in the room and walked over to me. I whined in protest and tried to get off the medical table, but the straps held me in place. “Rise n’ shine lass!” Baked Potato yelled. “Ye’ve got a lot of explainin’ to do!” I groaned again and slowly opened my eyes. I was greeted by Baked’s overenthusiastic face inches away from my own. “Ye feelin’ better yet?” he asked, somewhat quieter.

“I hate you. So much. Right now,” I whispered. I was wide awake now, and all the lights were making my brain hurt like crazy. Have I mentioned how much I hate bright lights? “How bad am I hurt? Am I missing anything else?” I didn’t feel like I was missing anything, but it never hurt to get a second opinion.

“Nah, but Rummy took yer claw away. Safety reasons, he said.” Baked looked skeptical. “I think he’s still a wee bit upset about that stunt ye pulled yesterday.” Yesterday? Why do I keep losing track of time? “Don’t look surprised lass, ye’re the heaviest sleeper I’ve ever seen!” I glared at him. “Ye passed out through another explosion, thrown about on Rummy, and ye’ve been out since we patched ye up as well. I’m surprised ye woke up at all!” he said with a grin.

“So what’s with the straps? And how beat up did I get?” I asked when I noticed all the bandages. Seriously, every time I woke up I was more injured than before!

“Let’s say most o’ the Rangers didn’t think it was funny when ye somehow happened to acquire one anti-Ranger bullet for your enormous anti-Ranger rifle.” He began to loosen the straps with his teeth. “And some of ‘em didn’t think it was safe to let a prisoner out at all, not that I can blame ‘em.” He loosened the last strap, allowing me to sit up onto my haunches. I stretched my foreleg and shook my wings hard. I wobbled unsteadily because of my missing claw and was about to ask Baked if I could have it back, when he continued, “As for yer fancy dandy claw, I took the liberty of makin’ it a bit more sturdy and fancy!”

I smiled at him. My Little Mechanic, what would I do without you? “Thanks! But… can I have it back?” He frowned at this. Not good.

“Bah, Rummy’s in a sour sort of mood, and since he’s yer jailer…” Baked trailed off. I knew what he meant. Rumcake probably didn’t appreciate me having the ability to kill a Steel Ranger if I had bullets, and taking my claw was a fitting way to prevent that for the moment.

“I know,” I mumbled. “So what happens now?”

“I have some good news!” Baked exclaimed. “I, uh, repossessed” – he made air quotes with his hooves – “yer claw and did some upgrades.” I squee’d. “Bad news though…” He sounded sullen with this statement. “I can’t give it back to ye unless Rummy clears it.”

I nodded. “It’s fine. I might have deserved that, I suppose.” I figured I’d get it back soon enough. After all, Rumcake couldn’t in good conscience keep my own leg away from me for long. More importantly, if I didn’t get it back soon, how was I going to get around?

“And some better news!” Baked added. My ears perked up. Better news? I love better news! “It’s time again for yer psych eval!” He grinned wider. I only had patience to glare angrily at him when Instant Noodles walked into the room. “I’ll leave ye ladies to it.” As he left the room, I barely heard him singing something along the lines of “Here I come, mess hall!”

I lay down and asked Instant, “So, how messed up is my brain?” She giggled at this. Aww, she was adorable. “And since Baked managed to forget to answer my original question, what happened to me this time?”

Instant Noodles stood next to the table and pulled out a clipboard and pencil. “I’ve decided to diagnose you with a recurring addiction to masochism.” I gaped at her. What. She ignored my stunned expression and continued, “You have demonstrated repeated attempts to grievously harm yourself, and each time has ended in disaster.” I couldn’t believe my ears! I was about to ask her whether or not I should be worried when she started laughing. “Oh Celestia, the look on your face was priceless!” She wiped a tear from her eye with a hoof. “I didn’t think you would fall for it that easily!” I attempted to faceclaw, but I forgot my claw had been taken away from me. Of course. Taunt the handicapped pegasus, because there was nothing better to do.

“No, but seriously, what happened?” I asked, once Instant had stopped laughing and regained her composure. “Once second we were under attack, the next I’m tied down in the medical bay!” I was starting to get a little depressed about my current situation.

Instant’s expression became serious. “Letting you run loose through the base was a lapse of judgement on my part. From now on, I’m keeping you on a tighter leash.”

Ha, leash. Collar. Bomb collar. Ha, she’d made a funny. What had I been doing though? I had been lying down in the hallway with the rifle… one bullet… I looked up and asked urgently, “Is Soufflé okay?” Conflicting emotions were running through my head.

Instant was actually surprised by my question. “He’s still out but he’ll live. Why?” I breathed a sigh of relief. “As for you, something cut your neck and it nicked an artery. You’re lucky you didn’t bleed out.” Instant must have noticed something, because she asked, “Why did you want to know about Soufflé?” She raised an eyebrow and waited.

I buried my face in my hoof. Can’t hide anything from a therapist, can you? “I… I considered killing Soufflé in that hallway…” I mumbled into the table. I looked up and nearly shouted at Instant, “This isn’t what I’ve been told all my life! Nothing’s gone right, you’re not supposed to be this nice, and I’ve lost so much. I’m supposed to fight Rangers and I ended up saving a Celestia-damned cake. I just don’t know what to believe anymore.” I broke down and cried into my hoof.

Instant put down her clipboard and wrapped her hooves around my neck. “I know it must be hard to be going through all of this, but persevere. If it makes you feel better, everything that the Grand Pegasus Enclave tells you is all propaganda. Of course, that also assumes our intel is correct.” She hugged me tighter as I cried into her shoulder. “What made you change your mind?”

I sniffled and looked up into her orange eyes. “My father told m-me I needed to be a better pony. It was… the l-last thing he…” I started crying again. I hadn’t cried this hard since I was a little filly. I was under a lot of pressure, so many things happening at once that just weren’t going my way, and simply because I couldn’t think of anything else to do.

“Your father must have been a good pony… Smoky Winds, was it?” Instant asked. I nodded. My crying had devolved into quiet sobs. “What was he like, you know, when he wasn’t your leader?”

I answered forlornly, “I don’t remember.” Instant looked at me questioningly. “Yes, really. I don’t really remember anything about him.” I racked my poor damaged brain for answers. C’mon brain! Anything?

Shut up, Frosty. I have no idea.

Well, thanks for helping, brain. “It’s like all the important things about my Enclave life is gone… That can’t be coincidence.” Instant wrote this down while still holding me in her hooves. I was feeling much better now. She held me for a few minutes as my sobs turned into little hiccups.

Our quiet moment was interrupted when an armored head poked into the room. “Ma’am? Inquisitor Soufflé is up. He’s asking for you.” He looked directly at me and added, “And bring the prisoner too.” Having delivered his message, the Ranger turned and left.

Instant pulled away and put down her clipboard and pencil. “We better go before he gets angry.” She turned to leave, when she noticed me waving my stump at her. She looked around and sighed. “Since there’s no wheelchair, you can lean on me. It’s only three rooms away.” She walked back to the table and helped me down.

I leaned against her right side and we slowly hobbled our way out. I noticed a sign on the wall and I asked, “Is it okay if I stopped by the little fillies’ room? I need to empty my bladder and should probably get cleaned up.” I probably looked terrible right now. Last thing I needed was for Soufflé to ridicule me about me crying my eyes out. “I’ll be right back,” I said as I turned to trot into the bathroom, only to fall flat on my face. Damn you, brain. Missing leg, remember?

Shut up, Frosty.

“Help. I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”


After I’d finished my business, with a bit of difficulty, we managed to make our way to Soufflé’s room. He was lying down in a big poofy medical bed reading something in his hooves. How come he gets a real bed? No fair!

“We need to talk,” he said without looking up.

Instant and I looked at each other. She nudged me, indicating that he was probably talking to me. “Uh… okay? What do you want to talk about?” I was very nervous about this meeting. Did he know? Was that why?

“I’d like to thank you,” Soufflé began. So he didn’t know yet. For the better, I guess. “You saved my life back there… Frosty.” Wait, Frosty? Not Enclave rat? Not prisoner? He’d actually used my name! We were really getting somewhere now! “I understand you had an attack of opportunity back there.” I flattened my ears against my head. Yep, he knew. He looked up at me in genuine surprise. “Why didn’t you just shoot me then and there?”

I pawed at the ground nervously. “Well, to tell you the truth…” I sighed. Let’s get this over with, I guess. “I really was going to kill you for a while there. I tried. Then I decided that killing you wouldn’t solve anything.” I sat down and continued. “I like to think that I’m a good pony, and letting you live was the right thing to do, whether I liked it or not.” Soufflé smiled. He actually smiled!

“Hm. I… I see.” Soufflé paused, seemingly unsure about himself. “Uh, status update, Instant Noodles?”

“Sir, we have three Rangers still recovering from the last assault and Panini is still in surgery,” Instant reported. Soufflé nodded. “As for Frosty, she needs time to recover after losing all that blood.”

The Inquisitor nodded. “I see. The two of you are dismissed. I have… repairs to oversee.”

“C’mon! Let’s go.” And then Instant picked me up in her yellow magical field and strolled out of the room with me in tow.

“Hey! Put me down!” I protested. I did not like being picked up at all, especially against my will! Instant complied, and put me down on the ground again, only for me to take a step and fall onto my face. Again. Brain, why must you fail me? “Ow. Pick me up please.” I was wrapped in a magical field again and lifted up. “Don’t. Say. Anything,” I growled at Instant. She was smirking at me and obviously trying to not to laugh.

I spent the next few minutes floating in silence. Instant spent the time snickering and trying not to laugh too hard. She finally stopped giggling long enough to ask, “What about your family?” I stopped fuming long enough to actually stop and think.

“What about ‘em? Dad’s dead and I really don’t know if I’ve got anypony else really waiting on me,” I glumly told her. “The Enclave has a policy… simply, anypony stranded on the surface has been ‘contaminated’ and will be removed from the population list. For all they care, my entire squad has been marked down as KIA and that’ll be that. A few someponies lucky up there probably received a certificate to have a foal. I might not have a place up there anymore, soldier or not.”

We got back to my room and Instant dropped me gently onto my bunk. I noticed my saddlebag had been placed onto my table along with a box of snack cakes, a slightly crushed carton of apple chips, and a poorly written note. Instant reminded me, “Get some rest, seriously. You lost a lot of blood and we frankly weren’t sure if any of our blood packs would work on pegasi.” I nodded. “Also, Baked said he had something else for you when you’re feeling better. Most likely he’ll stop by later or tomorrow.” After that she left, leaving me in my room with my thoughts.

I flopped closer to the table and examined the note. It read “Got ya sum dinner. Herd u like the chery ones. Also clean the rifle. The blood messd up the internls.” It was signed by Baked, followed by what I hoped was a coffee stain. Yay, cherry snack cakes! I hooked the strap on the saddlebag with my hoof and pulled it toward me. I opened it up, and inside I found the rifle neatly broken down and the parts tucked into their respective pockets. Along with the rest of the things I had hoarded before, there was a pamphlet labeled “Rifle Assembly and You! A Dummy’s Guide to Firearms!” along with a bottle of what I assumed was gun oil. There was an oily rag next to it with a tiny little note that said, “clean harder!”

I sighed and started cleaning. After studying the manual and comparing the instructions to my rifle, I got a grasp on what parts go where and how they were put together. I gripped the rag in my teeth and started cleaning the dirt and grime from the body of the rifle. When I got to the main assembly, I cringed. The blood that had covered the bullet dripped into the little cracks in the assembly, presumably while I was lining up the shot that saved Soufflé. I shuddered and started wiping the dried blood off of the mechanism parts. There was blood stuck to everything! Blood all over the breech, blood in the gas system, blood spattered all over the inside of the gun! As I cleaned, I thought back to the encounter that had saved Soufflé. I’d lined up the shot. I was ready to fire. Soufflé was too busy trying to reach his pistol to even attempt to try to run. I’d had an opportunity. I’d had a single bullet that could kill him. Why didn’t I do it?

“If you keep cleaning that breech, you’ll shine a hole through it.” I looked up to see Rumcake walk in through the doorway with a weak smile on his face. He didn’t have his armor on for once, but he still managed to look menacing without it. And, of course, his incredibly menacing pink mane. I smiled back with an exhausted expression on my face. I thought he’d never talk to me again. “I heard what happened, and I might have overreacted a little. When Soufflé wasn’t moving I assumed the worst. I never really thought you would be lucky enough to find a single anti-machine bullet. You and Soufflé don’t particularly like each other, and it only made sense to kill him when the opportunity arose.” He sat down in the doorway. “Only later did I realize that you’d saved Soufflé. Why?”

I exhaled in exhaustion. Why did everypony want to know? “I’m a good pony,” I explained again. “I’m better than just petty revenge.” I looked up from my cleaning. “Sometimes, sacrifices must be made for the good of the future.” I proceeded to start putting the body of the rifle together. I’d cleaned out all the blood I could and the mechanism was feeling a lot smoother. “You also owe me one anti-machine bullet.”

“What? Why?” Rumcake asked. “I don’t owe you anything!”

I feigned surprise. “Oh really? You don’t owe me anything for saving your boss?” Rumcake grimaced and folded his ears back. I made a sad face and scooted closer to him. “Not even a kiss?”

“What.” Rumcake was frozen in a combination of surprise and shock. I wouldn’t blame him for his word choice either. He managed to recover and stammer, “Why would I kiss you, anyway?”

I kept it up. This was comedy gold! “Not even a widdle smoochy woochy?” I cooed at him. I couldn’t stop, this was amazing!

He facehoofed. “If I give you a kiss, will you let me leave with my dignity?” His face was slowly matching his mane. He leaned closer. “Nobody. Hears. About. This. Ever.” I grinned and scooted closer. I closed my eyes and scooted closer. I could feel his breath on my cheek, the scent of gun oil an—

My little romantic train of thought was abruptly derailed as he suddenly shoved a snack cake into my mouth. “Thathsh not faaahr!” I yelled around a mouthful of snack cake. This wasn’t supposed to have happened! I was supposed to make fun of— Oooh, cherry filling! He laughed hysterically as I munched on the snack cake in an odd state between anger and bliss.

“Didn’t see that coming, did you!” he exclaimed. “Oh Celestia, that was perfect!” I glared at him as he continued to laugh. “You should have seen yourself!” He laughed harder. Before I could throw back a clever response, he leaned in and gave me a quick peck on the cheek. “That’s all you get, Frosty,” he whispered. Then he got up and left, leaving me alone. I could only sit on my bed, blushing and in slight shock. He’d kissed me!

Well, that went better than expected.

Shut up, brain. I put everything away while in a slight haze of happiness and then went to sleep, happy and content for once.


I woke up to the sound of clanking machinery and hammering. I groggily hauled myself into a sitting position. Why did it have to be so noisy? I squinted at the doorway. What was going on? I scooted my rear end out of bed and then swung my front legs off the bed… only to faceplant onto the floor. Brain, why must you fail me so often?

Shut up Frosty, I’m not awake yet.

The door crunched open and Baked Potato poked his head into the room. “Rise and shine, girlie!” he called out. I managed a groan. It was too early. He looked down at me in what I assumed was surprise. “You sleep down there all night?” he asked. I growled at him. Not funny. “Well, get yer pretty flank in gear! I gotta show ye something!” I could only shift around on the floor. Still tired. I was thinking about getting comfortable on the floor, until I was bodily picked up and thrown onto Baked’s back. I meeped in surprise. Why wasn’t I allowed to sleep anymore?

“Hey! Come on! Why does everypony have to pick me up? Put me down!” I cried. I immediately realized my mistake just as Baked was leaning over to drop me face-first into the floor. “WAIT WAIT WAIT!” I used my one hoof to try to grab onto his armored back. “Don’t put me down! Don’t put me down!” I could swear he was trying his hardest not to laugh. “Can you at least tell me where we’re going?”

Baked continued carrying me as if he'd never heard the question.

My impromptu taxi eventually stopped in a medium-sized living quarters area. “Well, ‘ere’s my room! There isn’t much, but make yerself comfortable!” he said as he dropped me onto the messy bed in the corner of the room. I surveyed the rest of the room with slight interest. The room itself appeared to be some kind of small machinist’s room. There was a workbench crammed in one corner between two other cots and a large metal table next to it covered with bits of machinery, tools, and miscellaneous metal parts. There was a metal storage locker and a small locker in the farther corner of the room. Baked trotted over to the other side of the room and dug around in the storage locker.

Imagine my glee when he returned with my new and upgraded claw! Yay! No more face planting! “Woah! That looks amazing!” I exclaimed. When he’d said he made it more fancy, that was a total understatement! “You even painted it! White with blue highlights, just like my mane!”

“Yep. Glad ye like it, girl!” He brought it over and plopped it down on the bed. “I’ve strengthened the joints in the claws, I wrapped it in a shell so at least the blood and dirt won’t get in the pistons, and it’s got a built-in compartment to store caps in!” he gushed. He was obviously very proud in his handiwork. “Now, I’mma plug it in so I don’t have to carry you anymore.” I nodded. I didn’t need anymore ponies dropping me on my face, that’s for sure. “I’m going to plug it in on three,” he said. I closed my eyes and braced myself. “Three!” he shouted.

Wait, wha—? “AAUUGHHH! LUNA’S FROSTY FLANK YOU’RE SUCH A CUNT!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I felt my nerves connect to the signals in my claw. The connection point felt like it burned underneath my skin and all I felt was excruciating pain, and the raging feeling of I’m-going-to-kill-Baked boiling in my mind. A good ten minutes later when the pain had faded to a slight blur of rage, I opened my eyes and blinked the tears away as I glared at Baked. “That wasn’t fair. I wasn’t ready.” I mean, really! Who starts a count at three?

Baked grinned at me as he said, “I told ye I’d put it in at three!” I pouted at him. I was really tempted to attack him with my brand new claw.

Relax, Frosty. We’ll get back at him.

Thanks brain, that’s all you.

“Did ye remember to clean out that rifle?” I nodded solemnly. “Remember next time: bloody bullets will mess up rifles.” I nodded again.

We were both stopped by a purple and red mare sticking her head into the room. “So I heard you’re a cunt, ‘Tater! What’s new?” I stared blankly as she waltzed into the room and pointedly looked me over. “So you’re the experiment. Nice to meet you! I’m Fruit Punch!”

She raised a hoof. I hesitated. Why did she sound so familiar?

“What? I’m not going to punch you.”

Oh… right. This was the alleged “rip my wings off” mare. She looked at me funny. “Let me guess… Soufflé?”

I nodded. “Tell me the truth… are you really as evil as Soufflé claims you are?” I asked. She gave me a funny look. “He’d say you’d rip my wings off.” I flapped my wings to emphasize my point. Wait, I had wings! I’d totally forgotten over the course of this… week? I’d been walking around and passed out so much I’d forgotten to check how my feathers were doing!

Fruit answered my question before I could turn around and check on my feathers. “Oh, he’s just angry that I can out-wrestle him. And probably because I’m a Stampede junkie.” She grinned, and I gave her one of my what-are-you-talking-about faces. She elaborated, “Stampede is a combat drug that Steel Rangers use. Its amazing!”

Baked Potato leaned over and told me, “When the Stampede kicks in, she goes in like a manticore and backhoofs everythin’, guns or no.” I looked to Fruit and she nodded. “This one time this insane lass single hoofedly ran in and punched a raider stronghold apart. Not a single grenade fired. It was amazin’!”

“Well, I gotta run. Maybe see you sometime?” Fruit said nonchalantly. “Make sure Baked doesn’t go too overboard, ‘kay?” I gave her a puzzled look but she just smiled and left. I raised an eyebrow at Baked.

“What? It’s not my fault all I’m ‘llowed to do is fix things! Ya know how borin’ that is? I need somethin’ to dooooo!” He kneeled at my hooves and held my shoulders. “Let me work my magic on ye!”

I contemplated taking a few steps back… he could potentially be serious or he was making fun of me. This couldn’t possibly get more awkward.

As if called to action, Rumcake suddenly decided to walk in. “So, Fruit Punch tells me—” And he stopped in mid sentence when he saw Baked essentially begging in front of me as I stood there in shock. “Uh… am I interrupting something here?”

“This probably isn’t what it looks like!” I blurted. My cheeks burned. Oh dear Celestia, why did these things happen to me all the time? I could feel Gala Frosty facehoofing with me in my mind. Oh Celestia, why?

“Let me guess… he wants to play with your claw thing because he’s bored.” Rumcake guessed. I looked at him in surprise. He saw me and all he had to say was, “What? I know my Potato well.” They shared a brohoof and grinned. “So he gave you your claw thing back. I guess I can live with that,” Rumcake told me. “Think of it as an apology about the whole snack cake thing yesterday.”

Baked looked at us questioningly. “Don’t worry about it,” we both said simultaneously

A voice from the PA system interrupted our increasingly awkward meeting. “Head Knight, Head Paladin, Head Scribe, High Scribes, report to the conference room immediately. Paladin Commander Rumcake, put together a small security detail. Senior Scribe Instant Noodles, bring your pet with you.” Everypony in the room looked at each other. “Also, to the soldier that put explosives in the officer’s latrine, you will be severely reprimanded. That was not funny.”

A voice in the background shouted, “It was hilarious! Woo!”


For a meeting room, this was much less imposing than I was thinking it would be—peeling wallpaper, shoddy carpeting, equally shoddy lights, and a tiny projector on a table. Unfortunately, it was not large enough to fit ten mostly-armored Steel Rangers, five scribes, a pompous armored dessert, and a partly mechanical pegasus. We were all nearly pressed up against each other and the room was slowly heating up due to all the body heat circulating in here. I was getting a few dirty looks and blank helmet stares, and I was getting nervous from being trapped in the middle of my Rumcake–Instant sandwich. I tried to get at the itch right under my bomb collar, but I could barely move my forelegs as it was.

My inner pegasus was screaming at me “GO OUTSIDE I’M GOING INSANE”. I was nervously trying not to lean against either Ranger next to me. I knew they were big, but I hadn’t actually realized they were this big!

Or you’re really tiny.

Shut up, brain.

I tapped Rumcake’s armored shoulder. He leaned down and I whispered to him, “Can I stand on your back?” He raised an eyebrow at me. “I can barely see and I’m not very good with tight spaces,” I squeaked.

“You’re heavy,” he told me.

You astronomical wanker! I’m not that heavy!

He saw my steaming expression and smiled. “Gotcha. Sure, climb on if you want.” He bent down so I could hop onto his back. I was now getting a few strange looks, but Soufflé loudly and obnoxiously cleared his throat and most of the attention was focused in his direction. I managed to stabilize myself and now I could actually see over everypony. I shook out my right wing because it had fallen asleep, then I realized something. I could probably hover around for the first time in ages! I examined my left wing and observed that the feathers had grown back somewhat well, so I decided to attempt hovering.

I nervously flapped my wings, and imagine my surprise when I actually achieved lift! I kicked my legs in glee. I was flying again! Yay! I checked the ceiling height just to make sure I had enough room for my next stunt. I floated higher then quickly turned upside down. It was a bit strange at first, but I gradually got the hang of it again. “Hey, Rumcake! Check me out!” I whispered as I descended into his vision. From the top of his vision. Needless to say, it actually scared him a little and he actually jumped back a little with a clank. I giggled at him as he glared at me. I stuck my tongue out at him and floated up to stand on the ceiling.

“Gentlecolts, you’re probably wondering why you’re here. Don’t worry—so am I.” Soufflé looked around the room. “I have no idea why I’m here. All I was told was to get a meeting. That’s it. Where’s that idiot Star Paladin Cheese Puffs?” There was some muttering around the room. “Not here? Well—”

Everything suddenly stopped when a door opened and a blue and orange buck strolled into the room and announced, “Good evening, gentlecolts.” He calmly walked over to Soufflé and dropped something in front of him. “Here’s a fully intact water talisman I reclaimed from the degenerate rabble from down the way. I reclaimed it a few days ago, single hoofedly.” There was some scattered cheering in the crowd. “Yes! Yes! Thank you.” He then took that moment to look up in pride, only to see the incredibly confused and somewhat bored pegasus standing on the room’s ceiling.

We both stared at each other. I was debating how to explain my current predicament while he was probably trying to figure out how I’d gotten in. “Uh… hi?” I tried. Half of the Rangers in the room stared at me, probably wondering how I’d even gotten onto the ceiling. Who said pegasi didn’t have magic!

“Enclave Assassin! Get down!” he shouted. I was going to tell him to chill, but when the minigun on his saddle spun around to face me, I realized I needed to change plans.

“Woah, woah, WOAH, WOAH, WOAH! Hold on! HOLD THE BUCK ON!” I shouted at him. Obviously, he didn’t want to hear it because he quickly put his helmet on and his minigun whined into action. Rangers dove for cover, especially the scribes in the room.

I braced myself against the ceiling and then launched off of it with as much strength as I could toward the far end of the wall next to Cheese Puffs. Bullets slammed into the metal where I had just been standing as I firmly planted my hooves on the wall. One more burst of speed gave me enough momentum to outpace the Ranger’s minigun. I slammed into his side using my shoulder, half expecting to bounce off of him. However, I actually overcame his excessive mass and lifted him off his hooves, only to crash into the ground several feet away. I pounced on him, still in the spell, and backhoofed him hard enough that I may have dislodged his internal hamster wheel. I elegantly followed through by pressing my claw to his throat and holding down his minigun with my hoof.

“Yo, I need you to STOP!” I yelled at him. “And turn off the bucking minigun!”

Cheese Puffs grudgingly complied. “Any of you imbeciles want to fill me in on why nopony’s helping me?” He looked at me. “Madam, would you like to remove your weapon from my throat?” I slowly backed up, breathing heavily, wings flared. I was still pumped from that major adrenaline rush thanks to my epic takedown. Rumcake muscled past him and effortlessly picked me up, holding me in place. He shakily stood up and turned to Soufflé and motioned to me. “Want to explain?”

Soufflé sighed and facehoofed. “If you waited for somepony to say something, or maybe listened first, you’d know.” He motioned at me. “This is Former Enclave Scout Second Class Frosty Winds, also colloquially known as ‘science project’. I’ll personally debrief you on recent events, since you’ve been in the field for a while.” He then motioned at Cheese Puffs. “Science project, this is Star Paladin Cheese Puffs. Shoots first, ignores questions. Now shake hooves and get along or I kill both of you.”

Cheese Puffs snorted and held out a hoof in my general direction. I bared my teeth and growled at him. I wanted to kill him so hard right now, why can’t I just kill him?

Because that’s stupid, Frosty.

Thanks, brain.

Instant Noodles walked over and plucked me up in her golden magical field out of Rumcake’s grip, much to our displeasure. “Alrighty, you two might have gotten off on the wrong hoof—but we can get along, right?” We both glared at each other.


Once I’d been dragged back to my room and been placated with a few snack cakes, I was feeling much less angry and much more tired. “That guy is an ass.” I panted. “I think I hate him more than Soufflé.” For no particularly good reason, Baked Potato also meandered into my room, presumably to bug me and Instant.

“He’s actually a fine exam—” Instant Noodles began, then caught my withering glare. “Oh. Sorry. In other news, what’s wrong with your wings?” I gave her one of my patented what-are-you-talking-about looks. “You haven’t folded your wings.”

I looked down at my wings. Oh, that’s what she meant. My wings were still flared up behind me in combat stance. “Adrenaline circulating. Wings pumped. Gotta go fast.” I waggled my stiff wings to emphasize my point. “It’s a pegasus thing.” Everypony gave me funny looks. “What? It happens!”

“I actually wanna know where ye pulled those moves from!” Baked exclaimed. He made whooshing sounds and waved his hooves in the air. “That was amazin’! And the way ye took down that damned Cheese! I’ve always wanted to do that!”

I blushed and beamed with pride. “I… I really don’t know. I just kinda did my thing, ya know?” Baked raised an eyebrow at me. “It was the first thing that came to mind. Why?”

“Air combat in a small enclosed room? That takes a lot of skill, I assume.” Instant Noodles marveled.

Somepony stuck their head into the room. “Ah do like m’ mares with skill.” We all turned to impart our varying levels of glares at him. “What? I was passin’ by, and ah overheard your conversation.”

I asked him, “Who are you?”

He introduced himself. “Ah’m Knight Cabbage Stew. Ah fix walls.” I shot a deadpan look his way. “Okay, ah fix things. Ah’m in charge of fixing the breach in sector where’s’it. Watch your step over there, darn cement’s still dryin’. See ya!” As he walked down the hallway, a thought came to my mind.

“Hey, how’d the slavers get in here anyway? I thought you idiots fortified this place,” I asked. Really, super secure Steel Rangers base filled with super powerful Steel Rangers. How did they mess this up?

“There are a few places in this base where it leads to a tunnel system. It’s like this place was built inside a tunnel system, and the places where it leads into the tunnels are like the original tunnels,” Rumcake explained. We all gave him a blank stare. “Pretend I’m making sense, okay?”

Everypony stood around in uncomfortable silence. "I think we should get ba—" Instant began, but she was interrupted by a rumbling sound coming from within the base, followed by klaxons going off. An explosion! Wait, why didn’t the alarms go off last time? “It’s another breach! Boys, get geared up!” She looked at me. “And get Frosty a gun so she can actually fight!”

Distantly down the hall, we all heard the faint cry of, “Aw burnin’ hell and tarnation!”


I followed Baked with my saddlebag haphazardly around my neck as he urgently ran to the workshop. “So, whatcha know how to use, lass?” I paused. Uh… what? They were really going to give me weapons? “C’mon, lass! Quit yer gapin and decide!” He started to pull out weapons from cabinets, lockers, and even a trash can. Eww. “Ye want power or speed? Yer call!”

I stammered, “Uh… do you have a laser? Or a plasma rifle? I’m trained in those.” He gave me a look that basically said “does it look like I have those?”. I laughed nervously and said, “Well, I’m already pretty fast… I could use something that can keep up.”

“Now yer talkin’, lass!” He dug around in a different crate and pulled out a small boxy contraption with a crude flame drawn on the side. “This is a 10mm submachine gun. It’s a little worse fer wear, but it works fine fer now. Now, here” – he pointed at the long stick attached to the bottom – “is the magazine. Drop the mag, put in the new one, pull the slide. There, now don’t go on about nopony tellin’ ye how to reload.” He slid some more SMG mags to me. “There’s a few reloads. Careful, this beauty’ll go through rounds faster than Rummy eatin’ at the mess hall!” He chuckled.

I picked up the SMG and heard the base announcer drawl into the PA system, “We have a security breach, if you haven’t noticed. All Rangers arm up and head to sector D-2… again.” I turned to look at Baked, who had suddenly donned his helmet. “Also, if anypony finds Fruit Punch, make sure she doesn’t have all the base’s Stampede. Go get ‘em, gentlecolts.” I picked up the SMG in my teeth and looked to Baked Potato. He nodded, and together we charged toward sector D-2.

When we got there, the fighting had moved out into the tunnel beyond the breached wall. Rangers were taking cover behind rocks in the tunnel and in the hallway, while the attackers hid behind the crest of the tunnel. The Rangers seemed to be doing fine, when another announcement came over the PA system. “Alert! They’re cutting through the walls in E-4! Rangers not at the D-2 breach need to head over to E-4 right now!”

Baked yelled something at me, but I couldn’t hear it over the din of gunfire. He motioned to follow him and broke into a gallop. I jumped and flew behind him, SMG in my teeth.

When we arrived, the walls were flickering with heat. Sparks and saws were cutting through the concrete, with limited success. Several Rangers were already positioned around the cuts being made in the hallway. I jumped once more to stand on the ceiling above Baked. Rumcake showed up behind us with a mini-gun attached to his armor. “I miss the party yet?” he asked. “Where’s Frosty? Hiding in her room?”

I dropped down from the ceiling onto his grenade launcher. “Well genius, does it look like anything has ha—” And yet again, before I could finish my witty comment, the walls exploded and raiders rushed in. Some of them were instantly fragged, but many of them managed to dodge the splash damage of the flying grenades, minigun fire, and even a missile to engage the Rangers in close combat.

I flew backwards and opened fire with my SMG. I watched several shots hit their targets, but they did little to no damage. Some bullets also hit Rumcake and Baked, but the small caliber bullets just bounced off their armor. “Cover me, I’m reloading!” I instinctively shouted. I pulled the empty magazine and slammed a second one in. I pulled the bolt with my claw and fired a volley of shots at the first raider I saw. He cried out in rage and pain, then stopped moving as I opened up with another spray of gunfire. “Dammit, reloading again!” I called out.

“Is that a freakin’ rocket launcha’?” somepony yelled. “Oh buck it is a rocket launcha! Heads down!”

I mentally cycled through the targets in the room, desperately searching for the raider in question. The last thing I needed to add to my day was an explosive projectile to the face. Shotgun, assault rifle, another assault rifle, pistol, another shotgun. I secured a better vantage point using a tall crate to peer into the tunnel beyond. More pistols, an assault rifle, rocket launcher, pistol, ano—WAIT A SECOND. A huge burly slaver, nearly as large as a fully-armored Steel Ranger, carried a massive rocket launcher attached to the side of his battle saddle planted his hooves and took aim.

I unleashed my small caliber bullets and watched them collide with the raider’s face. With luck not wanting to associate itself with me, I watched in mild surprise as absolutely nothing happened. One of the many bullets managed to crack his faceplate, and all it did was cause him to turn in my direction. “Aw, buck.” I kept firing bullets, even as the rocket left the tube and flew toward me.

I was saved from my moment of stupidity when a lightly armored Ranger knocked me down to the metal tiles. “Get down!” he yelled into my ear. The rocket smashed into the wall where I’d just been floating. I made the mistake of raising my head to look and I was rewarded by a shock wave slamming my head into the floor. It was very shortly followed by a wave of fire and shrapnel. I lay there on the ground underneath the Steel Ranger for a while. There was a ringing in my ears and everything was shaking around. I tried to move, but the Ranger on top of me wasn’t moving.

I couldn’t hear myself or anything else for that matter, but I gently shook the Ranger and mouthed, “Are you okay?” No response. I wiggled out from under him and attempted to stumble to safety. Needless to say, I wasn’t doing too good either. Inhaling felt wrong, I couldn’t really see straight, and something felt wrong with my right hindleg. I peered back behind me, and noticed that there was a piece of concrete lodged in my leg, along with some metal shrapnel.

I slowly dragged myself using my forelegs to get around the corner. I was in a haze of pain and I’m pretty sure I was losing lots of blood, again. I saw my SMG lying on the ground in front of me, and I picked it up. I cried out in pain as I stumbled to my feet. Oh dear Celestia my leg hurt so much. Every breath I took was painful, and I kept coughing up blood every other step. I gasped for breath as I stumbled away from the combat zone.

Imagine my horror when I bumped into a slaver. He stumbled and, forgetting he had a pistol in his mouth for a split second, shouted in surprise. Unfortunately for him, this lead to the sudden swallowing of his pistol’s bit. Tears erupted from his eyes as he struggled to breathe, and he could only glare at me angrily. He choked for about three seconds, then fell over and ignored me as he tried to remove the pistol from his mouth.

I giggled as he struggled to choke up the pistol and moved on. I limped over to a Steel Ranger taking cover and waiting for their grenade launcher to reload. My hearing was starting to return, and I heard the Ranger ask, “What’re you doin’ here?”

I coughed out, “Got painkillers? Or first aid? I feel like crap.” I collapsed next to the Ranger. “Aw man, I’m hurtin’ baaaad…” The Ranger called for a medic, then opened one of her flank plates. “What’s thaaat,” I mumbled. The Ranger was taking out a syringe, loading it with something from her built-in medical box.

“All I’ve got is Stampede,” the Ranger yelled at me. “It’ll keep the pain away for a while, but you need to be careful. Also, prepare to get angry!” Wait… Stampede? Only Stampede?

“Wait… Fruit Punch?” I asked. The Ranger nodded. “Somehow that makes a whole lot of sense.”

Fruit Punch injected the Stampede into me, and immediately I felt better. The pain was washed away and was replaced with an overwhelming feeling of energy and power. I could beat anything! “Yeah, yeah! Thanks Fruit! Woohoo!” I flapped my wings and dashed off toward the fighting again. I felt unstoppable! In the back of my mind, Filly Frosty was reminding me my leg needed healing, but I ignored her for the time being and charged into the first raider I ran into.

He yelled at me and started to pull out a large knife, but I smashed into him at high speed. The collision knocked both of us to the ground, but I recovered first. I unleashed a hail of SMG rounds into his chest and moved on without another thought. My next target was standing on top of a downed Steel Ranger. I sprayed several rounds in his direction and grinned. C’mere, you! The raider looked up and spun to turn me. Oh, of course he had a shotgun where I couldn’t see it! I dived to one side and managed to dodge a majority of the pellets. I felt a few sink into my shoulder and my side, but I didn’t care. I had to kill him!

I rolled to my hooves and pounced on the raider. I screamed at him and slashed at him with my claw. “Nobody. Shoots. Me!” I yelled, punctuating with slashes to his throat. The raider weakly cried out in pain. Blood! Adrenaline! Violence! This was fun! After he’d been reasonably mutilated, I pounced on the next unfortunate slaver that happened to run into my path. He had no chance. I sliced into him with my claw without mercy. “Die! DIE! AHAHAHA!!” I cried gleefully.

After that gruesome scene I charged blindly down the hall and into another slaver. He opened fire with his pistol and two of his shots slammed into my shoulder. I screamed in rage and jammed my claw into his jaw in a deadly uppercut. “Tear the flesh! Ahaha!” I laughed madly. Where had that come from? I turned my attention to the slaver that had just galloped in, frozen in fear at the scene before him.

I knocked him into the ground and prepared to slash him to bits with my claw. I wanted to shoot him in the face, but I’d dropped my SMG at some time. “AHAHA! Die!” I screamed. The gray slaver covered his face with his forelegs. I lay into him, slashing over and over again. I laughed maniacally and took a short break when one of my ribs released a wave of pain.

Suddenly, I noticed the slaver was different from the ones from the last invasion. There was just… something about him that didn’t blatantly scream slaver. He lacked the somewhat trademark slaver barding and he lacked the angry-looking scars that most slavers usually sported.

“No… Oh no…” I whispered. “What have I done?” I got off the pony I’d been slashing. His forelegs were bloody and gouged from where I’d attacked him. Blood dripped from my claw as I sat there, comprehending what I’d just done. “I’m so sorry,” I told him. He was very confused by what was happening right now. These ponies weren’t raiders! They were wastelanders, just trying to get by. Cheese Puffs had said something about a water talisman… “You’re here for the talisman, aren’t you?” The wastelander nodded slowly.

My bones were killing me. My muscles were burning. I was getting lightheaded, probably because of the massive amount of blood loss over the course of the last few minutes. I climbed off him. “I’m… sorry,” I muttered before I leaned against the cool metal of the walls. So tired… the Stampede was wearing off and I was really starting to feel the full weight of the pain I was in…


Poke. Poke. Another poke. “Meehhhh… Whaaa?” I slowly opened my eyes, and was greeted by a disheveled-looking teal pegasus in an equally disheveled Enclave formal dress uniform. “Who are—” I started, then I noticed my surroundings. I was back in picturesque Cloudsdale, in the cloudhouse I’d entered last time. “Let me guess… you’re drunk.”

Drunk Frosty giggled. “Of cooooooourse, silly!” She stumbled around. “You look like me!” she exclaimed. I rolled my eyes. “Terrible!” Okay, that deserved a laugh. “Heeeeeeeeeey other me, me’s here and me’s really hurt!” I heard hoofsteps from somewhere.

Gala Frosty staggered out from a side room, several emergency first-aid kits in tow. Her formerly pristine dress was in tatters, her mane in shambles. The snowflakes decorating her mane were gone, save one or two tucked behind her ear. A strip of cloth, presumably from one of the dress’s former sleeves was wrapped around her neck and stained with blood. Many other spots on her dress were also similarly ruined.

“Ngh… I sort of noticed.” Gala Frosty groaned, collapsing onto the carpet by me. “Next time, you’re going to put a little more thought into your method of attack. You almost got us killed—and if you die, I die. Even if I might be imaginary, I don’t want to die.”

The first thing that came out of the first-aid kit was a nice large dose of Med-X. Half of it went right into me, and the other half was self-dosed by Gala Frosty. “Beep beep! Comin’ through!” Filly Frosty squeaked, holding onto the comically large band-aid plastered to her nose.

My miniature ball of fluff and feathers leapt into a first-aid kit and reappeared with a roll of bandages. “Wait, does this make me any better? As in, does this even heal me?” I somewhat choked out as Filly Frosty began to wrap the gauze around my throat a bit too tightly. “Ow! Hey, not too tight.”

“Nurse Fwosty knows what she’s doing.” Filly Frosty giggled, pointing at the little cardboard nurse’s cap she’d presumably dug out from the kit.

I rolled my eyes. “Hey, Drunky!” Drunk Frosty looked over at me, bleary-eyed and a good amount of drool leaking from the corner of her mouth. “Got anymore of that?” She pouted at me and tossed me a half-empty bottle. “Thanks.” She shrugged and careened into a wall. I smiled. Was I really like that when I was drunk? Drunk Frosty got up, shook her head, and crashed into the same wall.

“Well, it won’t really heal you but it’ll damn sure make me feel a lot better. You’ll just have to wait for Rumcake to help us,” Gala Frosty replied, squirming her way out of her ruined dress. “But seriously, you do look terrible. Take a look.” I peered into the mirror with a sense of horror and disgust. I was spattered with blood, everywhere. My claw was covered in blood, my ears had blood trails coming out of them, and the concrete bits in my leg appeared to have fallen out but there was still a lot of blood all over it. So much blood. I shuddered as I realized that most of the blood wasn’t even mine. An inexplicable urge to lick my wounds bubbled to the surface of my consciousness, but I pushed the thought aside.

“I’ve done something really, really bad,” I told the Frostys (Frosties?) in the room. “I think I killed some innocent ponies. I lost control.” They all looked at me questioningly. Except for Drunk Frosty. She was lying upside down on the couch, waving her hooves in the air. “Those weren’t slavers. They were normal ponies!” I cried. “They were trying to survive!” I felt the tears coming. “The Rangers took their water talisman! And they wanted it back!” I was crying now. “And I just killed them because I didn’t—”

Gala Frosty hugged me. “It’s alright. We know, but you’re going to have to get over it. Sometimes, mistakes happen. You didn’t know. But you’re a good pony, and hopefully you’ll figure out something to make this all better.”

Yeah, that was it. Fix everything and stuff. Right. I was a good pony. Good ponies did good things, like help the common folk and not disembowel them. I needed to be better. For me, for Dad, for… for…

I didn’t remember closing my eyes.

Footnote: Level up!
New Perk: Steel Claw – Not afraid to get personal, eh? You now deal an additional 5 points of Unarmed damage.

-End of Chapter 3!-

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