• 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 5: It was an emergency, okay?

Chapter 5: It was an emergency, okay?

“All right, that's it! We've tried persuasion, charm, whatever it is Pinkie Pie does…”


“No! That can’t be possible!” I shouted. “The slavers are attacking from the surface, right?” Burly’s words floated back into my mind. ‘Somethin’s rocked the bloatsprite hive.’ Before, I’d assumed it was the monster in the reactor room. Were the slavers leaking into the tunnels?

“As much as I hate to say it, this Red Eye character is one of the smartest commanders we’ve seen. He’s outsmarted us on more than one occasion, and some of his field lieutenants are just as smart as he is,” Rumcake calmly spoke. “I wouldn’t be surprised that they have some ulterior motives back there.” He pointed at the collapsed tunnel he was still trying to dig out.

“What do we do now?” I asked him. “The slavers are down here, bound to attack at any moment, and there are a whole load of somewhat ambiguously innocent ponies up there oblivious to the terrors down here!” I was getting more and more worked up about as I spoke. What would happen if the slavers took over the tunnels?

He stopped digging and grabbed me. “Calm down. We’re going to go tell the mayor.” I took a deep breath and attempted to calm down. “Now. Lacking that, we’re going to face them ourselves if they attack. I’m not going to let anything happen to this town.” He gently brushed my mane as I finally calmed down.

“Okay… okay.” Deep breaths, Frosty. “So, I guess we get out of here and head to the mayor’s?” I asked. He nodded, and we left behind the slightly excavated tunnel behind.

After much argument and a little weapon-brandishing we managed to get an express ride to the surface out of Underhill. After arriving on the surface, we immediately dashed off to the mayor’s residence. The guards let us in, and they also begrudgingly let us see the mayor after a few threatening insults involving a spatula. We barged into the room and Rumcake immediately told the mayor, “You have a slaver problem.”

“Yes… yes I do. That’s why you’re still here,” he replied in puzzlement.

Rumcake facehoofed. “Sorry, let me try that again: you have a slaver problem in Underhill.” He took out the rocket parts and dumped them onto the mayor’s desk. “I think they’re collapsing tunnels that lead to crucial portions of the facility.” The mayor looked over the parts with disinterest.

“Looks like a load of junk to me,” the mayor said with increased disinterest.

“These are Red Eye’s slavers you’re fighting.” Rumcake slammed his hoof onto the mayor’s desk. “Doesn’t it seem kind of convenient that you’re under attack from slavers at the same time we’ve found things in the tunnels?”

I butted into the conversation with my little revelation from earlier. “Even Burly knows what’s going on! Something’s happening down there. Something’s attacking your scavengers in the tunnels!” The mayor didn’t have a response. He just sat there, probably taking in all the information we’d just thrown at him.

“Fine,” he finally replied. “If you can find a good link between what’s happening under the tunnels and that pile of scrap you found, I’ll authorize a full-blown assault. Your insane friend is training our militia, and the Doc’s been working on something for a while for heaving combat.” He shoved Rumcake’s hoof off his table and continued, “Until then, know your place.”

We turned and left the mayor’s residence with a feeling of resentment. “He’s an ass.” I huffed the moment we were out of earshot of the guards.

“He’s actually a—” Rumcake started, then he caught the dirty look I was giving him. “Oh. Right. Anyway, I’ll go check up on how Baked Potato is doing. Why don’t you go talk to the town doctor?”

I shuddered involuntarily. “Do I have to?” I asked him fearfully. “That buck freaks me out.” After the first time, I’d developed an irrational fear of even speaking to him again. “I don’t want to talk to him.”

“He can’t be that bad. He’s a doctor! He helps po—” He stopped in mid sentence as he caught a glimpse of Doc Galactic’s clinic. “That shouldn’t be physically possible…” he muttered, most likely about the skeleton on the noose. “And is that cross—”

“Yes,” I interrupted. “It’s drawn with blood.” I actually saw him back away uncertainly. “Now you know why.”

“Wow. Uh. I guess I do.” We continued walking aimlessly, attempting to ignore Doc’s clinic. “Why are you so scared of him?”

“He took out two of my bucking ribs!” I yelled back. I stopped and lowered my voice. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. It’s just—”

“It’s okay. I can see why you don’t like him already. Why’d he do it?” he calmly asked.

“Back in the base…” I stopped. How long had it been since then? Whatever, I guess. “I got nearly exploded by a rocket, crushed by a Ranger, and speared with some steel.” He stared at me in silence, probably shock. Hard to tell what’s going on behind that helmet. “Some other stuff happened, and I got brought back here by somepony who gave me the benefit of the doubt. Doc Galactic fixed me up and did what he had to do. Probably more, knowing him.”

“So he removed your broken ribs, then?” he asked me. “Sounds reasonable.”

“Yeah, except he decided to take my ribs for payment. I still owe him like, eight hundred caps,” I grumbled. “I hate him and he scares me. A lot.”

“Now I never want to meet him. Ever. But anyway, you’ll have to talk to him about whoever’s been coming in from Underhill. We need to know what kind of injuries they’re having and what they’ve been attacked by,” Rumcake informed me. “Now get moving.” He scampered off as quickly as he could before I could protest.

“Dammit.” I hesitantly walked to Doc’s gruesome clinic. As I approached the doorway, I murmured to myself, “How does that skeleton stay together?”

“Lots of wire and glue, my little pony,” Doc Galactic shouted from the other side of the doorway. How did he do that? I didn’t say it that loudly, did I? “Come on in! We have something to discuss.”

I swallowed my fears and strode up to the scraggly unicorn. “So, uh… what’s up?” I asked as confidently as possible. He was bent over a microscope on a table with some slides and equipment scattered about the tabletop. “What’s with the science experiment?”

“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” He motioned for me to look into the microscope. “Take a look.” I peered into the microscope and observed the little platelets and other random blood-related junk floating around arbitrarily. “See it?” he asked.

“I know I’m looking at blood, but I don’t really see what I should be looking for.” I backed away from the microscope and rubbed my eyes. “I took enough science classes to get qualified to enter a field medic course. That’s as far as my science goes.”

“Lemme dumb this down for you.” He sat there and thought about it for a moment. “You’ve got a disease I’ve never seen before. It’s slowly moving through your blood and I have no idea what effect it has on the rest of you.” He went over to the examination table in the room, which currently had a massive amount of medical equipment and other various brewing equipment occupying it. “Feel strange lately?”

I raised an eyebrow and thought back to the past few days. Was there really anything strange going on?

You got kissed by a sexy mare.

Shut up, brain. “I don’t think so. Why?”

“Hm.” He wrote something down on a pad he’d pulled out from somewhere. “If you experience anything strange, or if you have any symptoms that could potentially tell me anything, tell me. I need to find out whether this is contagious, because if I haven’t examined it, I’m probably not immune to it.” He gave me an exhausted grin. “At least we’ll know in a few hours if it’s airborne-transmissible.”

“Wait, what have you been doing in here, anyway?” I asked, looking around the room.

“Call it a science project.” He picked up a beaker filled with a tiny bit of orange-red liquid in his dark blue magical field and swirled it around. “It’s something I’ve been working on for a while. It’ll hopefully be done in a few days, but it’s hard to tell at the moment. If you stumble upon any chems, I’ll take em.”

“Anyway, I actually had another reason for seeing you today.” Onto the million-bit question. “Burly said that some crazy stuff’s been happening in the tunnels.”

“Oh, that cavepony? He’s somewhat trustable, I guess. I would assume you’re talking about the sudden influx of injuries several days ago?” he lazily replied as he added some unidentifiable liquid to a flask. “Why?”

“What kind of injuries did they have?”

“Let’s see…” He scratched his scraggly mane thoughtfully. “Crush injuries from tunnel collapses, burns from gas explosions, and a few cuts and scrapes from other things.”

Explosions and collapses? It couldn’t be coincidence, could it? “Any of this seem consistent with rocket launchers?”

“Well, I guess it’s possible,” Doc Galactic mused. “Head into the back room and ask the patients. I don’t have time to help you right now.” He pointed at a pair of double doors at the back of the room that had another cross drawn with blood and turned back to his experimentation with urgency.

I pushed my way through the double doors and collided with a seemingly solid wall of antiseptic-scented air. The room was bleak and gray, but it was very clean to the point of shining. “Woah. Didn’t see that coming.” I took a look behind me into the front of the clinic. Grimy, falling apart, and occupied by an insane doctor. “How do you keep the back room this clean?”

Rusty walked into the room holding a bucket in his teeth. “Hey, Frosty! You break something again?” I rolled my eyes. “Told you I work here now! It’s so cool in here!” He dropped the bucket on the floor and hugged me.

I pushed him away and told him, “Okay, that’s enough contact for one day. You do all his cleaning around here now?” He nodded. “And he pays you.”

“Yep!” he confirmed cheerfully. “So, why are you here, anyway?”

“I need to get a question answered.” I looked around the room. “Know anypony from the tunnels who’s been here for a few days?”

Rusty pointed at an occupied bed behind a curtain. “He’s been here for a while. Cave-in, I think. Doc lost his patient file, so your guess is as good as mine.”

I walked over to the curtained-off bed and quietly pushed the curtain aside. “Hi. How are you doing?” I quietly asked the gray and blue pony lying on the bed. Rusty walked up behind me, listening in.

“Could be better.” The pony groaned. “Who’re you?” He shifted in his bed in order to get a better look at me. His blankets shifted and I noticed the bandages crisscrossing his torso and legs.

“I’m Frosty. You?”

“I’m Junk Yard. I work the East tunnels.”

“I’m going to assume you got flattened in a cave-in.” He flattened his ears irritably. “Can you tell me anything about what happened?” I asked. Hopefully he could give me insight about what was going on in the tunnels.

“Well, basically what happened is I was bein’ really stupid and the roof dropped down on me.” He grimaced and shifted in his bed. “I wasn’t paying attention, okay?”

“Anything else? Hear anything?” I pressed. There had to be something!

“Well… I guess once you mention it, there was a gas explosion somewhere beforehand.” He tugged at the bandages along his chest. “Lots of ponies had been running into gas back there. Sort of strange, once you mention it.”

“Why?”

“Gas either collects in small rooms or slowly dissipates. It doesn’t usually just randomly explode most of the time.”

Rusty nodded. “And gas explosions are pretty rare,” he added.

“So then we’ve got intentional cave-ins and explosions. Do you remember where?” I asked him.

“Sure, you got a map?” I held it out and watched him make an unnecessarily large circle around a specific spot. “Careful out there, those tunnels are more unstable than the rest of them.”

I thanked him and left. I waved goodbye to Doc and Rusty as I left to go look for Rumcake and Baked. They weren’t too hard to find because of the loud yelling and clanking sounds coming from the north end of town. As I got closer, their yelling became more understandable.

“Oi! Stand up straight, ye lazy slouch!” The familiar voice of Baked drifted over, followed by the Canterlot-voice modified bellowing of Rumcake.

You! The bullets go in the OTHER way! Hey! Mount that assault rifle on a battle saddle! NO NO NO! YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!” I smirked as the both of them continued to yell at the town militia.

I waved at Rumcake when I got close enough. “Hi! How you doing over here?” He was holding his helmet like a megaphone and he was yelling into it very enthusiastically.

He turned to me and nearly blasted my mane right off when he yelled, “Have you seen the idiots I have to work with?” I smoothed my mane back down and winced as the ringing in my ears intensified. Some of the militia looked over in embarrassment or anger.

He turned to the militia again and yelled, “Carry on.” He looked back at me apologetically and lowered his helmet. “Sorry about that.” He scratched his frazzled pink mane with his hoof. “Forgot I had that on.” I shook my head to clear out the ringing in my ears. “They can’t even point a gun. So, you found something, I take it?”

“Yep. Couple days ago, somepony was blasting the hay out of the tunnels.” I told him everything else Junk Yard and Rusty had told me. “So, should we investigate the tunnels then? I’ve got a location for where we might be able to look.”

Rumcake raised his helmet and yelled at the militia again, “Oi! Don’t eat that!” He grabbed me in his hooves and cried hysterically, “I can feel my intelligence dropping! HELP. ME.”

I laughed nervously and pried him off of me. “Easy now, you’ll be fine.” He grudgingly got up and continued yelling at the gathered militia attempting to get better at… everything. “They can’t be that bad, right?” I asked, right as a grenade went off and one of them slammed heavily into Rumcake’s armored side. Rumcake didn’t budge in the slightest, the iron wall he was. The militiapony, however, wasn’t nearly as sturdy as he was. I faceclawed as I watched the unfortunate pony flop to and fro in the dirt. “Well, I’ve got nine problems but this ain’t one. Have fun, I guess.”

He turned his helmet on and yelled at them. “Good work, idiots. Somepony get Doc, I guess.” As few militiaponies picked up their maimed companion, Rumcake put his helmet back on and toggled the Canterlot voice module off. “I say we go see what those slavers are doing. You up for some diplomacy?”

“Eh?” I blurted.

Nice save, Frosty.

Shut up. “What happened to cleaning them out of the tunnels?”

“Easy. Since these are Red Eye’s slavers, we can probably reason with them.”

“Really? What if it doesn’t work?” I was dubious. Would this really work? In my last confrontation with them, they’d seemed a lot more raider-y than slaver-y.

“Easy! We just resort to more… dramatic means of negotiation.” He whipped out his grenade launcher and blasted the targets the militia were using for target practice. “Any questions?” he asked me, as the militia looked on with awe.

“Ugh, this is a stupid idea.” I grinned. “Let’s do it.”

~~~~~

I lay on a short ridge with my anti-machine rifle assembled and aimed at a ragtag camp flying a tattered red banner. “This is a stupid idea!” I whispered to Rumcake and Baked. I peered down the sights and relayed what I was seeing to the Steel Rangers behind me. “Three—no, four sentries on watch at the front gate. Five more in the courtyard. Two tough guys guarding a large shack in the back. The commander’s probably back there.” I looked at the two of them standing there in their power armor. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

“O’ course lassie! Anyway, as long as ye keep that rifle pointed in the right direction, we’re covered.” Baked laughed from under his helmet. “Now, if ye see anythin’ funny goin’ down you signal us, got it?” I nodded and loaded my rifle with the magazine with two bullets in it.

“If it gets really bad, haul your cute flank out of here and come help us, okay?” I blushed and nodded again. “Now, let’s tolerate and love the shit out these idiots.” They readied their weapons and moved out toward the camp. I watched them through the enchanted sights on my rifle as they strode towards the camp.

“Every step you take… Every move you make… I’ll be watchin’ you,” I breathed to myself, attempting to stay calm. Stabilize. Wind, four kilometers south. Four hundred meters. I shifted myself in order to correct for it. At this point, the sentries had noticed the two Steel Rangers carefully walking up to their camp. It looked like they were having some kind of yelling match with the sentries up on the gate. “C’mon, don’t mess it up already,” I muttered.

After a tense and lengthy exchange, the camp bustled into action. I swore under my breath as nearly thirty more slavers showed up from various tunnels, buildings, and tents. They were all armed, and all of the guns were pointed at Rumcake and Baked. “Their armor probably won’t stand up to that much firepower…” I murmured. A large, burly, heavily armored slaver with two miniguns mounted on his battle saddle slowly waddled toward my Rangers from the back of the camp.

I assumed that he was the leader, because two tougher-looking slavers trailed behind him and the others gave him a wide berth. I adjusted my aim and watched their exchange. Everything appeared to be going well and nopony looked like they were going to shoot. Okay, good.

Movement to the right, behind the orange pile of barrels on that wall-thing.

I scooted my aim over to where my brain had caught movement. Thanks, brain! Sure enough, there was a slaver moving as quietly as he could with a rocket launcher slung across his back.

“Dammit!” I cursed. They were up to something! What do I do? Was I supposed to shoot? What was the signal?

Wait for him to move out into the open. Teach the others a lesson.

Good call, brain. I slowly tracked his progress along the wall. I quickly checked the rest of the slavers, who were all still watching the exchange between their leader and my Rangers. “Cmon… go ahead, take your shot,” I whispered to the slaver with the rocket launcher.

After a few minutes of boredom, I noticed the other slavers were beginning to become restless. Rumcake and Baked were still talking to the slaver’s boss. I took a look at the sneaking slaver with the rocket launcher finally making his move. I quickly shifted my aim and prepared to fire. The gentle breeze tickling my ears from the south abruptly stopped and changed directions. Wind, east three kilometers. I angled myself again to compensate, took a few tense breaths and gritted my teeth.

Wait for it… The slaver struggled to load a rocket into the back of his rocket launcher. I took a deep breath and relaxed myself as much as I could. My pulse rhythmically hammered in my ears again and everything shifted into slow-motion.

One. I double-checked my aim. The slaver hadn’t moved much, so I was still on target.

Two.

Three. I slowly exhaled and the hammering in my chest became softer.

Four. I pulled the trigger.

Five. The shot rang out like thunder, and about half of a second of a second later the slaver’s entire head suddenly disappeared in a somewhat satisfying cloud of blood and gore. The bullet kept going and buried itself into the ground, but not before punching through another unfortunate slaver’s torso.

Both of the Rangers immediately jumped and deployed their weapons as the other slavers looked around in panic. The slavers were all jumpy and nervous after witnessing the gruesome demise of two of their colleagues. I could see the boss was yelling at everypony and the Rangers were probably doing the same thing. I grinned at my handiwork, until a particularly sharp-eyed slaver spotted me. “You can’t see me. You can’t see me. Nothing’s here. Move along and brush your mane,” I chanted nervously. He started yelling and pointing at me, smiling the whole time.

I wiped that smile off his face with the last bullet in my magazine. I sniggered to myself as I quickly broke apart the rifle and shoved the parts into my bag. The last thing I noticed before I packed away the sight gem was a huge firefight breaking out, with my Rangers in the center. I took out my brand new SMG and flew over to the firefight as fast as I could. As I got closer, Rumcake shouted, “This was a stupid idea!”

“No shit, Rummy!” Baked exclaimed, as bullets of varying sizes sparked off their armor. The two stallions were side to side, fighting off the hordes of slavers around them. “Stop movin’ ye daft ninnies!” he yelled as he tracked his minigun along a wall, attempting to hit several slavers hiding behind it. “It’s hard t’ hit ye when yer hidin’ behind things!”

I flew over the firefight and sprayed the slavers behind the wall with my SMG. “The cavalry has arrived, boys!” They cheered weakly in the midst of their gunfire. I kept flying and then banked into a hard turn while reloading to strafe the ones that were getting up. “Rummy! Your four o’clock!” The giant armored slaver was getting up and spinning up his miniguns.

“Say hello to my reasonably-sized friends!” the boss shouted in his gravelly voice. “Eat lead!” His miniguns flared to life, spitting 5mm bullets into Rangers and slavers alike. Rumcake cried out in pain and collapsed as most of the bullets penetrated his armor. Baked dragged him to safety as I attempted to distract the huge minigun slaver by spraying bullets into his back. Unfortunately, my SMG failed to punch through his obscenely thick metal armor and he barely noticed.

“Cover me!” I shouted. I dove behind a low barricade next to my Rangers and swapped out my SMG for my anti-machine rifle as quickly as possible. “Rumcake! Can you shoot back?” He nodded and shakily stood to his hooves, opening up with his grenade launcher. I quickly assembled my rifle and slammed in a new magazine. “Gimme five seconds of cover!” I shouted at Rumcake and Baked. They both nodded.

“Give’m the ‘tater special!” Baked cried with glee. Rumcake laughed weakly as both of them opened up their rocket bays and launched two missiles each at the slaver boss while firing their main weapons. There was a massive explosion as the barrage of ordnance exploded against, near, and around the giant slaver. “Take that, ye—” A large flying section of wall knocked Baked off his hooves. “Oof! I’ll be alright! Take th’ shot!”

I was already ahead of him. Right as they’d fired the missiles, I poked my head out of cover and braced the rifle’s bipod on the wall I was taking cover behind. Duly noting the relatively unscathed nature of the armored monster and the smattering of craters around him, I had a feeling that even I would survive a barrage from these Rangers. My pulse was going crazy and I was shaking like a foal, but I managed to take a deep, shuddering breath and slide into a sniper’s focus. I heard my heart thumping madly and I tried to control it.

Onetwothree.

I shakily lined up the shot as the missiles started hitting him.

Fourfivesix.

I raggedly exhaled as I squeezed the trigger.

Seven eight. Nine.

The rifle fired and I watched the bullet through my sight in super-slow motion as it sailed through the air.

Ten. Eleven.

I was rewarded with a high dinging sound followed the soft crack of the lead slaver’s head coming apart in a hail of gore and bone.

The battleground became silent as the dust cleared. The miniguns were no longer firing, and the remaining slavers stared on in shock when they saw their boss-leader-guy headless and spurting blood from his neck. As his body anticlimactically crashed to the ground, the slavers realized that they were in trouble. Some jumped off the walls, some ran past us, whatever the case they all fled from us. Rumcake groaned from where he was now lying on the ground. “Aww buck, I think they hit my spleen.”

After a quick looting of the bodies and the encampment, I managed to bring in quite a haul. Mostly assorted rifles, SMGs, pistols, plenty of ammo for all of them, two inhalers loaded with what I assumed to be Dash, a few Rage patches and four syringes of Med-X. The rest was just a variety of food and other random junk that I picked up anyway. Yay, kleptomania!

Before I could go loot any more buildings or tents, Rumcake groaned in pain. “Hey, you alright?” I asked him as his steps faltered.

“Okay, collection time’s over, lassie!” Baked shouted. “Rummy’s onboard med-suite ain’t gonna fix im’ up. How ye hangin’, lad?” Rumcake shook his head and grunted in response. Baked turned to me urgently. “We gotta get him back to the Doc! An’ fast!”

“You know your way back?” I asked him. He nodded. Good! “Okay, I’m going to fly him back to town.” I took out one of the Dash inhalers I’d picked up and took a deep breath out of it. My nostrils tingled with delight and a powerful shiver ran down my entire body as I emptied out the inhaler. “Wow! I feel really really really good I can do anything right now but first I gotta get Rummy out of here wow I feel good! I feel really really good!” I grabbed Rumcake by his sides and lifted with all my might. “Wow you’re heavy really really heavy!”

“Eh… ye okay there, lass?” Baked asked with concern. What was he talking about? I feel amazing! “Yer kinda… twitchy.” I shook my head vigorously. Twitchy? Nah! I was feeling really really good! Baked shouted.

“I’m totally fine! Wow is it getting hot I feel really hot how about you anyway I’ll see you back at town ‘cause I gotta go fast!” And then I zoomed off toward town in my Dash-fueled haze of speed and excitement. Even with a protesting and possibly airsick Steel Ranger in my hoof and claw, I was going faster than I’d ever gone before! “Woohoo! I’m going so fast I didn’t realize how much I miss flying with the wind in my mane the currents beneath my wings oh hey the town’s right there that was fast!” The words just spilled out of my mouth as I flew right onto Doc Galactic’s doorstep.

“Wow. That was… fast,” Doc observed, stepping out of the double doors. “Are you okay?”

“Oh yeah totally I’m fine I feel awesome hey is it getting hot in here I feel really hot I think I’m going to go outside and fly around some more see ya!” I blurted and took off again. So fast! If only this feeling never stopped!

~~~~~

I woke up in my lofty perch in Rusty’s room with more than a few bruises and a pounding headache. “Ugh… what happened?” Broken poked her head into my field of vision with a smile. “It feels my face got flattened by a manticore.”

“Well, you did collide with a building at high speed.” Broken giggled and climbed up and patted my head. “You feeling okay?”

“My face hurts.” I rubbed my muzzle irritably. I carefully stretched out my legs and winced at the burning sensations in my entire body. “And I’m sore all over.” I carefully stretched out my wings and and cried out in pain as a bolt of pain lanced through them. “Gah! Oh wow that hurts!” I winced and gingerly flapped my wings. “Ow. Ow. Ow.” I stood up and shook myself to loosen up my stiff muscles, all of which protested from being moved so much. “That makes me feel much better, I think.”

“You know, you’re adorable when you’re on Dash. Your friends told me all about it!” she exclaimed. Wait! My friends! I opened my mouth to say something, but she answered right away. “They’re fine. You got him to the Doc with time to spare, and now he’s recovering just fine.” I breathed a sigh of relief and I flopped down onto a pillow. “You should go visit your friend!”

“I don’t wanna move right now. I feel so tiiiiiiiired,” I whined, refusing to get up. I flapped my wings weakly to somehow demonstrate how tired I felt.

Poke.

“Stop.”

Poke.

“Stop it.”

Poke. Poke.

“Okay, fine! I’m getting up!” I painfully shuffled to my hooves and stretched again. “Guess I'm off, then."

"Oh, so soon? You don't even want a kiss goodbye?" Broken batted her eyes at me and made little kissy motions.

My eye twitched, and I raced out as quickly as possible, ignoring the sounds of giggling from behind me.

When I arrived at the clinic, Baked Potato was standing near the door to the back room and Doc Galactic was tinkering with his strange brewery contraption from before. He heard me walk in and he put down the bubbling beaker. “Hello there, Frosty! How can I fix you today?” I sighed in relief as I sat down, relaxing my sore, sore, muscles. “So I would assume the Dash high finally wore off?”

“Yep. I’m so sore all over! I don’t think I’ve ever gone that fast in my life. How’s Rumcake?” I asked.

Doc was nearly jumping with joy. “Oh, I had so much fun!” I cringed at him as he dug around a drawer for something. “It was like a scavenger hunt for bullets!” He pulled out a syringe with his magical field and started filling it with the mixture from earlier. “It was the most fun I’ve had for months! Thanks! You three are giving me so many opportunities to practice my medical expertise!

“What are we, guinea pigs?” I whined.

“Actually, you’re more li—” Doc started, but I wasn’t particularly in the mood to listen to scientific drivel, so I picked up the closest bottle and chucked it at him. That elicited a satisfying squeak of pain upon impact. “Okay, I guess I deserved that,” he muttered, rubbing his jaw.

“Yes. You did.” I growled. I stepped over to where Baked was standing. I took on a more friendly tone and asked Baked, “You been here all night?” I could hear him deeply breathing under his helmet. “You in there?” I gently tapped his helmet. He was probably just thinking about so—

I heard a soft snore from under the helmet.

No. He couldn’t be… I waved at him again. “Seriously?” I muttered. He snored again, this time louder.

Do it. You know you want to.

“Sorry buddy, but this is too good to pass up,” I whispered under my breath.

I tiphoofed over to his side and faced away from him. I shifted my weight onto my forelegs and gathered all my strength into my hind legs. Here goes nothing! I released all my strength and I bucked him as hard as I could. My hooves clanged loudly on his armor, but I’d hit him just hard enough to cause him to slowly tip over. “Eh? Wot?” he mumbled, right before he fell over and crashed into the floor. “Ye gigantic twat!” he cried as he tried to get back up.

I helped him up as I laughed hysterically. “Oh that was amazing!” I gasped. “You should have seen your face! I should have seen your face!” I attempted to mimic his accent “Ye gigantic twat!” I laughed harder. “You can’t put caps on that!”

“T’aint fair t’ ambush a stallion while he’s sleepin’!” Baked whined. “Yer an evil little lass, aren’t ye?” I giggled and he playfully punched me. “Ye feelin’ better?”

“Not really. I feel worse, but I know what you mean,” I told him.

“Next time, no candy fer ye,” he scolded.

“Hey! It was an emergency, okay?” I retorted.

“Shut up and get in here!” Rumcake shouted from the back room. I smiled and we ran into the back room. When we got there, I started laughing even harder. Rumcake was out of his armor and lying in a bed with his entire neck and torso covered in bandages. His right foreleg was wrapped up in a cast and he was giving me a dirty look. “Stop it. It isn’t funny.”

“No! It’s hillarious!” I continued laughing anyway. “Holy crap, what did Doc do to you?”

“I went bullet fishing in his ribcage!” Doc Galactic nonchalantly answered, trotting into the room. “I had a great time!” He poked Rumcake’s bandaged torso. “You, not so much I would assume.”

“No shit!” Rumcake yelled. “You made me bucking watch while you had me cut open!” Doc only smiled. Rumcake gazed at me sympathetically. “Now I know why you hate this guy.” I grinned.

Doc frowned. “It wasn’t all that bad, was it?” He gestured at me. “At least you still have all your parts, unlike her.” My grin disappeared.

“You made me hold your beer!” Rumcake shouted. “What doctor does that?” He turned back to me. “What did he make you do?”

I shrugged. “I dunno. I was passed out the entire time.” Somehow, I didn’t want to know what he’d done anyway.

“Why does she get a knockout spell?” Rumcake demanded. “That’s not fair!”

“Hey! Don’t judge!” Doc said defensively. “I’m not going to have a lady watch me cut her ribs out! That’s just cruel.”

I really wasn’t sure whether to be flattered or really disturbed. On one hoof, at least he had an—admittedly twisted—idea of chivalry; but on the other claw, something was very, very wrong with him.

“But you, you’re a grown stallion!” Doc continued, patting Rumcake’s head. “Who’s a big colt? You’re a big colt!” he cooed.

“Stop it,” Rumcake scolded. “Can we please just move onto more pressing matters? Frosty, why’d you open fire first?”

I felt a twang of worry lance through my mind. Was it the wrong thing to do? “I saw the slaver trying to flank you with a rocket launcher. I waited for him to make a move, then I shot him in the head,” I told him, projecting confidence. “He posed a possible threat, so I took him out.”

Rumcake nodded. “Okay, that makes sense now.” He turned to Baked. “Well, so we were half right.” Baked grunted and tossed a small bundle of caps at him. “Well, thanks for the quick save back there. Our barrage wasn’t as effective as I hoped, and he would have actually gotten us if you hadn’t taken that risky shot.”

I gushed with pride. “Wow, uh, thanks! I went with my instincts back there.”

“Yep. Anyway, turns out the slavers have no idea what they’re doing,” Rumcake informed me. “They’re trying to close off the tunnels between the sewers and the Seapony Energy underground sections.”

“Wait, what?” I exclaimed. “That’s not possible!”

“Lass, they’re runnin’,” Baked clarified. “Somethin’ in th’ tunnels got them scared wild.”

“But… I thought they were trying to mass in the tunnels! What could they be running from? Why would they just give up on all that potential pre-war weaponry?

The weird glowy thingy in the tunnels, maybe?

“Who knows? We don’t know what they were tryin’ to do,” Baked answered. He caught the confused expression on my face. “Somethin’ on yer mind, lass?”

“Uh… I don’t… Okay, well…” I stammered. How would I tell them? Would they believe me?

They’re your friends. Maybe. You can trust them.

“Spit it out, lass!” Baked exclaimed.

“Okay, there’s this really creepy monster thing down there in the tunnels.” I got some weird looks from the gathered ponies in the room. “I shit you not, this thing is scary.” I recounted my experiences in the security room that day. “Maybe they’re running from that?”

“Any other details you can remember?” Rumcake asked. “Armor type? Size? Weaponry? Anything?” I shook my head. “Any ideas, Bakey?”

Baked tapped his helmet thoughtfully. “Sounds like th’ camera ye were seein’ through was in th’ reactor room.” Well, that answered a question. “But I’ve never heard of anythin’ or anypony that’s got that style goin’ on.”

“Well then. We’ll just have to find out.” Rumcake pointed at me. “Go talk to Scrap Bank for supplies. Baked will give you some caps to pay for it.” I nodded and consulted my beaten-up saddlebag on its contents. “Baked, you go see to ammo.” Baked saluted. Rumcake pointed at Doc. “Get me out of this ridiculous getup and back into my armor.” Doc rolled his eyes but grudgingly complied anyway. “Who dares, wins.”

~~~~~

After I’d looted Scrap Bank’s shop for some food and a good amount of healing potions, I headed back to Doc’s clinic to meet up with my Steel Rangers. Baked was helping Rumcake load his grenade launcher and Doc was adjusting his bonesaw harnesses. “Uh, Doc, what do you think you’re doing?”

“I’m coming with you, of course!” He grinned and slid yet another cruel-looking bonesaw into a vacant slot on his harness. “I haven’t had a good jaunt in ages!” He went over to a butterfly-printed medical box and strapped it to his back. “Anyway—if you get torn up, I can fix you up!”

“And what happens if you get killed?” I asked. “Ponies here need you!” Doc only shrugged. “Think about it!”

“Eh, death is only an inconvenience.” Doc waved me off. “Pass me that trauma kit.” Again, something was seriously wrong with this pony.

I picked up a small package that was labeled “TRAMA KIT” in my teeth and dropped it onto the medical box on his back. “You know you—” I mentioned.

“Shut up. I know, I’m a doctor, not a dictionary.” Doc levitated a length of surgical tubing out and used it to tie the trauma kit to the medical box. “You need a medic, and I fit the bill just fine.”

I turned to Rumcake, who grimly nodded. “We might as well. The last thing I want to do to you is get you addicted to Dash.” I gaped at him. Really? We were bringing the only local medical professional in the wasteland into an incredibly dangerous tunnel system where we could all die?

I sighed and passed Doc Galactic the chems I’d found earlier. “Before I forget, here you go.” He took them and dropped them onto the table with his strange chemistry set on it. “So what do you need so many chems for?”

“It’s for a chemical cocktail that I haven’t tested yet.” He tapped the medical box on his back. “I don’t want to have to use it, but we have it if you need it.”

“Now that we’re all geared up, let’s get down to business,” Rumcake stated. All four of us got up and left Doc’s clinic. To the reactor room, this time with backup!

~~~~~

“Well, this is it,” I told the assembled ponies behind me as we stared at the collapsed tunnel in the South Labs. “The reactor room should be right back there.” I stared at my map, trying to figure out whether there was another way around. “I guess the only way is to start digging.”

“Okay everypony, stand back!” Rumcake called out. He whipped out his grenade launcher and aimed it at the debris blocking our path. We all realized what he was about to do and we all collectively dived behind various desks, tables, and walls. He firmly planted his hooves into the ground and opened fire, blasting away at the obstruction in our path. “Yeah! Explosions, woo!”

After a few seconds when the dust cleared, everypony peeked out from their chosen spots of cover. “Is it safe?” Doc asked tenatively. Baked nodded. “Oh good, because it would be a terrible shame if we all suddenly died because some idiot with a grenade launcher dropped the entire continent on us.”

“Would you have preferred to dig?” Rumcake asked indignantly. “Come on, follow me.” Without waiting for the rest of us, he stepped through the giant hole that he’d just made and disappeared into the darkness. We all looked at each other, then proceeded to file into the hole one at a time.

“I hate to mention this now, but in hindsight I realize I should have bought body armor,” I whispered to the rest of my group in the darkness. Rumcake groaned, but I swear I heard Doc giggle with delight. “Sorry!”

“Buy some when we get back,” Rumcake shot back, then he raised his hoof. “Hold up. Helmet lights on.” Rumcake and Baked both turned on their helmet lights, and even Doc focused and released a glowing blue light from his horn. The darkness in the tunnel disappeared, replaced with a sickly yellow-blue light.

“I feel a bit left out,” I mentioned to the others, feeling glum about my lack of lighting. They all turned to look at me, and suddenly I was blinded by every single light source being pointed in my direction. “Gaaah! The lights! They burn!” I cried, covering my eyes with my forelegs. “Get it away!”

Everypony immediately turned their lights away and back into the darkness. While my eyes adjusted back to the relative darkness of the tunnel, Baked asked me, “So, what’s the deal with this place, anyway?” He scanned the walls and ceiling. The room was cavernous and had a domed ceiling, and the walls were streaked with soot and grime. “And where’s the liiiiiii—” he yelled as he fell into a crater.

The rest of us just gaped in shock at the state of the room. “Okay, I’m no theoretical physicist or anything, but something tells me there should be a floor here.” Doc observed, breaking the silence. I double checked the map. This was the right room alright, but what—Clickitey. Eh? Clickitey. Clickitey. Clickitey. “Is that the sound of my Geiger counter or the sound of my organs slowly dying?” Doc asked rhetorically. “Just kidding! It’s both!” He shuddered and tightened his coat around himself.

Doc balefully looked around the room while the Steel Rangers appeared to go check their own state. “Yep, I’m getting like, one rad per second,” Rumcake told me. I pouted at him unhappily. “Armor. You should think about investing in some.” Doc levitated a Rad-X over to me and I immediately downed it, unsure if it would actually help. “Make sure you get a RadAway after this.”

Baked grunted from inside the crater. “Did ye say this was a reactor room?” I nodded. “Well, that don’t look like no reactor.” He shined his helmet light at the center of the room. Instead of what I somewhat expected, there was just a crater scattered with debris. “Looks like there was some kinda meltdown in here.” He trotted closer to the center and immediately backed off. “Woah! Okay! Lass, ye better not come down here!” He addressed Rumcake, “It’s nearly forty-eight in there! Definitely an old meltdown.”

A smashed window in the corner of the room caught my eye. “Okay, I’m going to just go around the giant room-sized crater and check in there,” I told Doc. He nodded, and continued observing Rumcake and Baked standing inside the edge of the crater. They were discussing something involving some Ministry or something, I didn’t really care.

I peeked through the shattered window. There was that scratching noise again! I perked up my ears as I investigated the room. It couldn’t just be me, right? In the top corner of the room I could barely make out a security camera in the corner.

The room slowly brightened up and Doc appeared behind me. “Hey, is it just me or do you hear something?” he whispered. I turned to him in surprise. “So, you hear it too. You have any idea what it is?”

I shrugged. “I have no idea,” I replied while carefully flying into the room through the broken window. “Come over here. I need to see what these buttons say.” Doc poked his head through the window, his horn illuminating the room with his pale blue light. Now, imagine how silly I felt when I realized all the words were burned off or obscured beyond recognition. “Well, nevermind then.”

I poked my head underneath the table with the buttons on it. “You find anything else back there?” Doc called out. “It’s getting boring out here.” I heard him pacing around outside. “Hey, what’s this?” I heard him walk away and the light in the room faded. When I looked back up, Doc was gone.

I stuck my head back into the reactor room. Baked and Rumcake were on the other side of the room examining a set of heavy doors that looked like they were really locked. “Doc?” I called out. No response. “Ha ha. Very funny, Doc. Where’re you hiding at?” I looked around. I couldn’t tell where he could possibly be hiding. I peeked into a small access tunnel off to the side. “Doc?” I called out nervously.

I heard the high-pitched whine of something powering up. Where’s a flashlight when you need one?

“Gotcha,” A deep, masculine voice growled behind me.

Wha—

I had enough time for my brain to register what was going on, and then something collided with the back of my head. Everything suddenly went dark and I don’t remember ever hitting the floor.

Great reaction time.

Shut up, brain.

~~~~~

Hello, brain damage. You in there?

Wait, isn’t that my line?

Wait, dammit.

I groaned weakly. “Ehh… what happened?” I squinted in the darkness I found myself in. “Anypony out there?” I coughed and tried to rub my muzzle, but my hoof was tied to my sides. I attempted to swing my claw around to cut the rope holding me captive, but all I managed to do was swing my stump. “Dammit, not again.” I groaned.

“Nice to know you’re awake,” Doc’s voice floated over to me. I looked around. “Up here, featherbrain.” I looked up and smirked when I saw Doc Galactic tied up and attached to the ceiling. “You okay there?”

I struggled against my bonds, hoping that my captor was really bad at knots or something. They didn’t budge and I sighed. “I could be better, but considering our circumstances I think I’m fine. You?” I continued my attempts to wiggle out of the rope, but I only managed to lose my balance. “No, no, no NO!” I lost control and completely fell onto my face. “Dammit. Now I’m tied up and face planted. Great.”

“Well, I’m doing fine. But it looks like you’ve been disarmed.” If only I could facehoof. Or faceclaw. Dear Luna, the puns. Doc laughed uncontrollably. “Wow, I’ve always wanted to throw that out there!”

“Well. It looks like you two are up and about,” a voice growled. “About time.” From my spot on the floor I could only make out a set of armored hooves. The strange part was, the armor appeared to have been custom-crafted from welded steel plates. The hooves stopped right in front of my muzzle. “Get up.”

“If you haven’t noticed yet, I’ve been tied up by some crazy idiot,” I sneered at him. “And if you’re a bit thick” – I attempted to wave my stump at him – “you haven’t noticed my other leg’s gone.” I was rewarded with the familiar white-and-blue tones of my claw being dropped in front of me. “Aww, thanks.”

As I wormed my way closer to it, the mysterious pony continued talking. “I guess I can trust you. The DJ think’s you’re hot stuff.” He stepped over me and whispered to Doc, “It’s good to see you again, old buddy.” I squirmed around and tried to get a good look at them. “How you been?” What? Doc knew this whackjob?

Doc shifted around. “Wait, is this about the whole skeleton thing?” He laughed nervously. “You know, I really do apologize about that. I mean, the shin bone doesn’t really have to be connected to the leg bone, right?” He struggled in his ropes. “No hard feelings?”

“Oh, this isn’t about that anymore. Though what I’m about to make you do will definitely make me feel better.” He went over to a dark portion of the room and suddenly Doc fell down from the ceiling. “Get your friend fixed up.”

Doc magically loosened his ropes and helped me untie mine while he spoke. “Look, all of this makes sense. In context,” he assured. He then paused and put a hoof to his chin in thought. “Actually, it still doesn’t. Pretend I’m making sense.” He finally untied my ropes and levitated my claw over to me. “You want help?”

I sat up and nodded. “I can’t really— BUCK YOU WITH THE GODDESSESDAMNED MOON YOU GIANT ASS!” I screamed when Doc decided to plug my claw back in. I was getting used to the pain of the nerves reconnecting and all, but damn it, it still bucking hurt! “You’d think I would realize it by now!” Doc burst into another fit of laughter.

“If you girls are done, I need you to come with me. There’s something I need your particular expertise for,” our captor said as he pointed at me. “Now, let’s go.” We obediently followed him out of the room and into another hallway.

Now that I could get a good look at him, he wasn’t as scary as I’d thought he was. However, he really was the thing I’d seen on the security camera that day. His armor was completely made of welded steel plates and his helmet was a scavenged combat helmet with a few attachments and gas mask attached to it. As for weapons, he had a pair of assault rifles strapped to his sides in a semblance of a battle saddle.

“So, Agent Tabber, how you been?” Doc nonchalantly asked him. “Still working for that idiot Roy Mustang?” Agent Tabber muttered something incomprehensible under his breath. Doc continued, “You haven’t changed, have you?”

“Shut it, Stitches,” Tabber shot back. “You’re a filthy deserter. That’s what you are.” He fiddled with something attached to his helmet. “You’ve got a fifteen thousand cap bounty on you back in Dise, and I’ve got half a mind to turn you in.”

“Now, you and I both know that won’t happen,” Doc quickly replied. “And anyway, nopony’ll believe you.” He flaunted his coat. “I’m just a doctor now!”

“I know. And as much as I’d like to haul your ass back with me, I still owe you for Canterlot.” He turned and kept walking. I gave Doc a questioning look but he shook his head. “We’re almost there.”

“So…” I awkwardly started. “You two know each other?” Both of them stopped and glared at me. “I’m going to assume nopony wants to talk about it.” Tabber huffed and kept walking. Doc glanced at him and sighed.

“It’s a really long story,” Doc finally groaned. “We were part of a team. Things went wrong and I bugged out. That’s all.” He stared at Tabber. “It’s just… everything went wrong. We were lied to, cheated, and left for dead.”

We stopped in what looked like a mostly-empty storage area. “That’s not how I remember it!” Tabber shouted, spinning around and nearly hitting me in the face with his rifles. “You ran!” He jabbed Doc (Stitches?) in the chest. “We had a job, and you decided to abandon the rest of us.”

“I… I don’t want to… talk about it anymore,” Doc stammered. I was actually somewhat shocked. I’d never heard Doc this scared before, even when he was being confronted earlier. “Just… let me stay in town. It’s nice there.”

“Come here, pegasus,” Agent Tabber growled, ignoring Doc for the moment. “I need you to open this.” He pointed at a cloud-locked metal locker.

I crouched in front of the locker and prodded the cloud-built keypad with my claw. Much to my surprise, my claw sunk right through it. “Huh. That’s interesting.” I prodded the keypad with my hoof and felt relieved when my hoof met the solid cloud.

“Can you open it?” he asked.

“Yeah, yeah. Hold on,” I muttered. I shifted the patternized keys and numbers around in some of the most common combinations any pegasi would use. “There we go.” After a few moments of fiddling, pulling, and a bit of luck, I opened the chest and backed up. “Well, I can’t say I was surprised.” Hello, empty storage container.

He sighed and took off his helmet. His coat was a nice dark orange color and his mane was a deep red shade. He bore the scars of many knife fights and his ears were missing several slices. And his eyes! They were a beautiful, mesmerizing purple th— “What? Is there something on my face?” he asked.

“Gah! Ah! Eh, no,” I stammered weakly. Focus!

Smooth. Great recovery, ten out of ten.

Shut up, brain.

“Whatever.” Tabber turned to Doc and growled. “Well, I guess this is the end of our little reunion since this was all I was here for. You can go back to your friends now. Follow that hallway, turn left, second door on the right,” he said, pointing off into the depths of the room. Dejected, he turned away to leave, but suddenly paused. “Wait. Why are you even here, anyway?” he asked, performing a surprisingly quick pivot on his hind hoof.

“Well, we were originally going to figure out what the slavers were doing down here, but you’ve sort of answered our questions,” I explained to him. “I’m going to assume you kicked them out of here a few days ago?”

“Yeah. They kept interfering, so I got around to rigging traps and ambushes for them to run into. Didn’t take long for them to pick up and leave,” Tabber replied matter-of-factly. “So, you’re here to kill those slavers, eh?” We were?

“One more job? For old time’s sake?” Doc pleaded. Tabber rolled his eyes and prepared to leave. “Think of the loot they might have collected! You can’t return empty hoofed.” Doc reasoned.

Tabber groaned and stopped in his tracks. “Fine. Those slavers are in between me and my exfil at Old Olneigh, so I guess I can come with you.” Doc grinned with satisfaction. Tabber grimaced and poked Doc’s nose. “One time. Just because we used to be friends. And because I’m still technically under contract.”

Something connected in my brain when he’d said “Old Olneigh”. It seemed familiar, in a way. But where had I heard it? I filed it away for later investigation and turned my attention to the task at hand. “Well, we need to meet up with Rumcake and Baked Potato first before we go hit that slaver camp,” I told them.

“And then you can show us where the slavers are coming from,” Doc finished. “Now, let’s go find the rest of our group, shall we?”

After a few minutes stumbling about in the relative darkness, we finally encountered the familiar yellow glow of our Steel Rangers’ helmet lights. After a long introduction and a very careful explanation of a very convenient chain of events, we finally convinced Rumcake that Tabber wasn’t hostile to us. “I still don’t think this is a good idea,” Rumcake grumbled.

“Look, I don’t particularly enjoy doing this either, but I think he’s going to be really useful,” I implored. I steered him aside as Baked excitedly discussed something about crafting armor and weapons with Tabber. “I think we should work with him.”

“Better be a good reason. I’m not stickin’ our necks out fer some lunatic we found in th’ tunnels,” Baked countered.

“I think he knows something about my past. Or at least, something from two weeks back,” I whispered. “Something in my mind got connected or something when he talked about this place, Old Olneigh. Know anything about it?”

Rumcake grunted. “It’s just ruins. Nothing’s there anymore besides manticores, hellhounds, and more manticores. Also there’s hellhounds. Mostly hellhounds.” I closed my eyes and tried to remember. Hellhounds? Something about hellhounds? “You remembering something?”

Little flashes of a meeting and a Vertibuck ride flew past my vision. I growled and rubbed my forehead in frustration. “Just… random… things. I think I just remembered the ride over.” Nothing was making sense! It sure would help if my visions came with an audio feed.

Audio is overrated.

Dammit, brain.

“Everything’s all random and disjointed, though,” I continued.

Rumcake sighed. “Fine, he can come with us.” I followed him back to where the rest of our group was idly milling about. “Well, Agent Tabber. You can come with us for the time being,” Rumcake announced. “Now, let’s go destroy our mutually despised enemies and be completely done with it, yes?”


Footnote: Level up!
New Perk: Bloody Mess – Eww. Characters and creatures you kill now have a higher chance of meeting their end in a violent explosion of blood and gore. You also now do 5% more damage with all weapons.

-End of Chapter 5!-

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