• Published 20th May 2012
  • 1,205 Views, 20 Comments

Fallout Equestria: Dashed Hopes - Ironwolves21

In the ruins of stalliongrad, can love Truly survive?

  • ...

Long walks and Sore Hooves

Dashed Hopes
Chapter 6

Am I the toast of the trench or what?
Oh you’ll be toast alright.

The gate of Horseshen station were made of meter thick steel; supplemented by thick reinforced concrete on all sides. The warning light span silently in its housing, it bathed the area in pale yellow light. I trotted in beside Saw and the others; but I still felt the gaze of the guards who kept their guns trained on both us and the area behind the gate.

Somepony; whom I could only assume to be the guard captain by what he wore; trotted up to us and offered a hoof to Saw. “Welcome to Horseshen, we haven’t had many visitors as of late.”

Saw nodded and motioned to me. “She’s party leader, not me.” I may have blushed slightly at the gathered attention.

“Heh, yeah that’s me.” I offered my hoof to the buck, who took it up graciously.

“Again, welcome to our station. May I ask what brings such a well armed group to our humble metro?” I glanced over to Riot for advice; all I got was a lousy shrug as he turned back to one of the guards and began to chat again.

I looked back to the captain, who hadn’t moved an inch. “We’re going into Stalliongrad, I’m going to find my sister.”

The buck tapped his chin thoughtfully. “I see. An honourable quest, but I think you’re in over your mane.” He smiled softly at me as he stepped aside. “I suggest checking the armoury for a firepower upgrade, that pistol will only get you or your friends killed. I hope you enjoy your stay at our station.”

At that, the buck wheeled about and began to trot back to his command post. I shook my head as I turned to my friends. “What do you guys think? Should we just keep going or should we rest?”

Riot spoke first. “We should see about getting you a laser rifle or something of the sort, that captain was right.” Saw nodded in agreement with the grey unicorn.

Matchstick on the other hoof smiled wide as she looked at me. “You need to try the moonshine Dew!” My ears drooped slightly at the mention of alcohol.

“I-I don’t think that’s such a good idea Match. We need to keep our momentum going after all.” I gave her my best award winning smile.

She didn’t buy it. The mares eyes drooped and she almost seemed to glare at me. “Fine then miss fancy panties, I’ll be at the bar making friends while you get shafted by merchants.” The mare grunted as she turned and trotted away with her nose in the air.

Riot shook his head behind me. “ Now you can explain to me why you thought it was such a good idea to bring her along, eh?”

Saw chuckled as I gibbered uselessly. “You kids play nice now. Me, I’m going to drink with Sticks over there.” I raised a hoof to argue, but he turned around and started to trot after Matchstick. My hoof fell back down with a dull thud.

Riot nickered as he trotted up next to me. “Let’s get moving Dew, we need to figure out what we’re doing before nightfall.”

I cocked an eyebrow. “Nightfall? Why would we care about that? Can’t we just camp outside like we did with Hoofington?” I swallowed quietly as he turned around to look at me. I almost jumped as he laid a hoof down on my shoulder.

“Lass... Hoofington was no cake-walk, but Stalliongrad will literally kill you in your sleep.” He gave me a sincere smile as he patted my shoulder.

I think my jaw dropped slightly. “W-what do you mean?”

“I mean we’re going to need gas-masks and a lot of filters if we expect to get anywhere outside twenty feet from the door. “

His words stopped me dead in my tracks. “Is it that bad out there? How could True Heart survive out there if it’s that bad?” I know my voice was cracking and strained, but this was serious stuff right here.

Riot sighed as he stopped ahead of me. “If she’s in Stalliongrad, she’s got a gas-mask and a big gun.”

Riot was leading me through the tiny metro market; it was considerably smaller than the one at New Carrion, but I noticed that they offered a strange selection of goods. One of the merchants was selling an array of odd looking weapons and saddles, and beside him was a booth where ammunition could be traded.

I trotted up to the counter as Riot broke off to talk with the mare running the ammo booth. The merchant running the gun stall looked at me with hungry eyes and a swindling smile.

“Hello there, looking for some new ordinance?”

I nodded as I picked up a small pistol with my hoof. The buck nickered as he glanced at my holster. “Your gun is better, but if you wanted to trade or something...”

I shook my head as I turned to a large and menacing weapon. The buck grinned ear to ear. “This! This is way better than your toy gun.”

“I don’t even think I can lift this thing!” I poked the weapon in question, causing the buck to frown.

“As you wish... Are you going to buy something? Or are you wasting my time?”

Riot trotted next to me and placed a full clip of ammunition on the table. “Bring out your special rifles. Now.”

The buck nodded swiftly before ducking into the back. He trotted out with a bulging duffel bag clamped in his teeth; the bag was plopped down infront of us and the clip of ammunition was grasped in return. Riot unzipped the bag and pulled out a number of weapons.

My eyes went wide as I looked over the military grade weapons. There was a certain laser rifle that drew my attention with its extended prism chamber and enhanced focus sight. Riot must have seen the look on my face; he started to grin as he picked out a bag of caps. “You think you can handle that sucker?”

I nodded my head swiftly as the bag went over to the buck. Riot put his hoof down on the counter as my hooves wrapped around the weapon. “Give her five cells, I gave you enough to warrant that.”

The buck nodded again and tossed a small box at me. I ignored them as I ran a hoof down the weapons side. My mouth hung open in a grin as I popped a fresh battery into the chamber; the weapon whirred for a moment before beeping.

“Alright lass, pack your new toy up and follow me. We’ve got shopping to do.” I nodded happily as the laser rifles strap hung from my neck. I would attach it to my saddle when I got the chance. Riot led me around a corner and into an enclosed shop. I froze for a second; seeing the amount of faces staring back at me blankly from their hung spots on the wall. Riot chuckled as backpedaled slightly.

“Calm down Dew, they’re just gas masks.” He looked over to the shop keeper, who eyed us curiously.

“You here to buy a mask? Maybe a new coat?”

“I need three new masks with five filters each.”

The buck whistled as he brought out a soiled box. “Big spender huh?”

“Either that or they get somepony killed.”

“Fair enough, that’ll be two hundred caps or fifty cartridges.”


Riot tossed over another pouch before motioning to the wall. “Have at er’ Dew, find one that fits.”

“A-alright...” I gulped as I trotted over to the masks; I quickly shook my head in shame when I saw them in proper lighting. “Oh of course they’re empty....Dew’s just a scared little filly...” I nickered as I grabbed a grey one off the wall. It had a snout that hung down to the side, it looked uncomfortable; especially because I had longer hair; The rubber was bound to grab.

My eyes were drawn to a less erotic looking one that had a pair of filters poking out either side; it had straps in the back instead of rubber. I shrugged my shoulders and slid the thing over my face. The mask hugged tightly along the borders of my face; Riot turned around and trotted over. He took my masked face in his hooves and I blushed like an inferno...

“W-what are you doing?” He shook the mask lightly from side to side.

“Can you breath? Hows the seal?”

I stopped blushing as hard when I realized what he was doing. “I-It’s fine, fits nicely.” I glanced up at him; but froze as he stared back at me. My red cheeks returned with a vengeance as he offered a soft smile.

“Good, it’s yours. The others will be fairly easy because of their short hair; but I know that Matchstick has her own mask. This ones for me.” He lifted up a mask similar to mine; but it was definitely meant for combat.

“Thanks!” Riot nodded as he floated a set of green cylinders into the utility barding that clung to my belly.

“Each filter should give you around two hours at best; try to find some outside or buy extras whenever you’re low. “

It was my turn to nod my head. “Alright, thanks Riot.”

“You two seem to be getting along nicely.” I turned to the door and waved over the pale blue form of Buzzsaw. He trotted up next to us and motioned towards the spare mask and filters. “I assume those are mine?”

Riot levitated them over to my friend as he spoke. “Filters last for two; scav’ for extras when needed.”

Saw nodded before placing the mask and filters into his bags. “Y’all may want to get over to the bar... Match is going to get in deep trouble, and I don’t have the willpower to deal with her.”

“Shit. Alright, lets stop the poor mare before she gets VD.” Riot waved dismissively to the pony behind the counter before trotting out the door and towards the bar.

The ruckus from the bar could be heard immediately as we neared the edge of the bazaar, I wondered what exactly Match had gotten herself into to cause such noise. Riot nickered as we drew closer to the bar; we could hear the voices now. It was nearing what sounded like a bar fight.

I’d only ever seen bar fights on the cheap holo-vids that I used to rent to keep myself from going insane with boredom, They were usually the same; the cowbuck would trot in and order a sarsaparilla, but the bad guy would say something about not liking the other bucks look or-


My heart skipped a beat as ponies started to yell. Riot pushed through a clump of rag wearing mares as he broke into a gallop; Saw and myself quickly followed suit.

The front of the bar looked like it could fall apart at any moment; but that didn’t stop the ponies inside from bucking a bright blue mare through the flimsy window.

Matchstick hit the ground and rolled ass over heels; she tumbled down onto the empty tracks that ran parallel with the bar. I hopped down as Riot motioned to Saw and the side of the shack as he pulled his gun. Match looked up at me as the door swung open

“Cavalry's here...” Her eyes rolled about slightly; I wasn’t sure if it was from the booze on her breath or the blood leaking over her forehead.

“Git up you worthless whore!” My eyes shot up to see a pack of rough looking bucks advancing on our position with malice in his eyes. I drew my laser pistol and aimed it at them as I stood over Match.

The lead buck laughed heartily as me as his fellow drew a revolver. (On the upside I knew what it was!) The others in his group quickly followed suit with weapons and laughter. The lead stallion silenced them with a hoof, he then pointed it at me.

“Move. Or we kill you along with your scumbag friend.”

I mumbled through the grip of the pistol; eliciting more laughter. The buck nickered as he pointed towards me. “You just made the worst mistake of your life missy.” The bucks next to him readied their guns.


I screamed into the grip of my pistol; which bucked in response and buried a round of crimson red into the lead stallions throat. I watched in what seemed like slow motion as the buck to the rights head shattered as the pistol round broke through the front of his skull. I fell in time to match the falling and gurgling lead stallion. The last ponys eyes went wide as a large wrench smashed into his chest; his smoking revolver clattered to the ground.

I fell overtop of Matchstick; who had been getting up onto her hooves slowly. She groaned in defeat as I slumped over her. My shoulder burned like crazy as the blood from the hole there seeped into my fur. Somepony clambered down into the burrow and shook me.

“Dew! You’re alright, you just took a round to the shoulder.” No shit buddy, what next? You gonna tell me I’m a mare?

I nodded weakly as Riot and Saw pulled us up. I grunted in pain as the fire in my shoulder spread into my chest. “Fuck! Careful!” I clenched my eyes shut as Riot let me leaned against his side.

“Let’s get out of here before-”

Yells echoed off the metro walls as we trotted towards the gate. Riot nickered as he turned sharply; dragging me with him roughly. A shot rang out from the gate and the concrete behind us exploded into a shower of dust.

Matchstick laughed as she galloped ahead of us. “Come on! I know a backdoor out!”

“Not the tunnels! I Loathe, the tunnels.” Riot swore under his breath as he bucked a sheet metal door closed behind us. “Fuck! Saw, push that filing cabinet over to block the door while I move the barrier.”

The blue buck nodded and went around the large metal box. Said box came crashing down behind us; causing me to flinch weakly. I had just been shot, stop snickering.

“Come on! Lets get out of here before the sheriff's deputies buck that door down.” Match heaved her heavy flamer through the small opening before slipping through and disappearing into the dark.

Saw groaned quietly as he too jumped through.

“I hate the tunnels.” My crutch spat before slipping on his gasmask. “Hold still.” I did as I was told, and my gasmask was soon hugging my face. The edges of my vision swam in darkness as Riot pulled me through the small opening, before he closed the door behind us.

The smell hit me like a cloud carriage despite the filters of the mask. I gagged weakly as I leaned against Riot. He swore again as he looked over to me. “Dammit, we need to patch up that hole in Dew before we go into the sewer. She won’t find anypony if that shit goes septic.”

“Sounds like a plan, what do you have for medical supplies?”

Matchstick whinnied in anxiety as she stood near a long tunnel. “Come on! Patch her up and lets go! I don’t want to be around for when those yokels decide to hang the mare who shot the sheriff.”

I slurped greedily at the small container that had been offered to me; I felt my shoulder stitching back together as I spoke. “Who shot who now?”

Riot picked me up off the ground. “You shot the sheriff, and I blew the head deputies brains out.”

Somepony nickered as they slipped on a gasmask; the muffled voice filled the tunnel. “Ah hate that song.”

The large unicorn holding me up chuckled dryly through the rubber mask. “Come on, they’ll figure out where we went eventually.”

Nodding, I pushed up onto my own hooves; testing them for strength. “Y-yeah, I’m not sure If going to court would be such a...wonderful Idea.” The other three shared in a laugh as I looked back. “W-what? Was it something I said?”

Match trotted over and patted my shoulder, she was still giggling merrily from the confines of her mask. “Hehe, you’re so adorable when you’re clueless!” She broke off and started to trot away, but was quickly flanked by both Riot and Saw. I was left to gauk in the dust.

I quickly shook my head and galloped to catch up. “Hey, wait for me!”

We walked for what seemed like hours; the tunnels all looked the same essentially. I wished that I could take off my mask for a moment, but the faint colours that swam through the air told me that any air that didn’t go through a filter was a very bad thing. Saw kicked over a small pile of trash before he halted.

Where is all this gas coming from?” He asked Riot, waving his hoof through the air.

The buck to my left shrugged his shoulders. “It’s prolly a combination of all the toxins from the surface leaking into the drainage pipes. This used to be a storm drain from the looks of things.”

I cocked an eyebrow as I looked at him. “Storm drain? Aren’t we too deep for that?”

“I’d rather a storm drain than the other option, Sparky!” Matchstick bumped my side with her flank as she walked past.

That’s not totally what I meant, I was more asking why we have to wear these masks around Stalliongrad. Who would live someplace where you either have to do extra scavenging, or pay extra just to breathe, when you could just go live someplace else?”

Riot seemed to think for a minute. “Well, to be fair; Stalliongrad has a certain pull to it. Because of the toxins big salvage parties can’t be funded or run properly. That and a lot of folks don’t get much of a choice in the matter. It’s Stalliongrad or bust.”

“Wow... That’s pretty profound Riot.” I looked over him again, biting my lip slightly. He was a smart buck, something that never came packed with muscle.

Well, that just begs the question....Why are you here, Riot? Why stay? You seem to be quite on top of things, if you can purchase weapons, ammunition, new gas masks, and filters for our little party.” The blue buck asked, a slightly confused expression on his face.

I could almost see Riot smirking under his mask. “I’m a ranger, we have certain... Obligations, to the ponies of the metro. Me? I’ve got a couple reasons to stay.” He nodded his head curtly as he finished, then started to walk further into the tunnel.

The blue mare behind me groaned in annoyance. “Come on! There’s nothing to do here, just dirt and shit!” She started to drag her hooves. “I’m sooooo bored!!!”

Calm down Matches, you got us into this mess, no complaining for you.” The pale blue stallion shot a look back to the flamer-wielding mare.

She blew a raspberry that echoed down the tunnel. “It’s not my fault! That asshat was being an asshat!”

So you decided to piss off the sheriff of the place we’re supposed to spend the night, and now we’re in a stinking tunnel. Good work, keep your hooves on your side of the trash tonight.

“Sorry to ruin your plans of sleeping in the noxious tunnels, but we’ll be moving on to the next station before we get any sleep.” Riot paused for a moment as he looked down a long off-shooting tunnel. “There’s a reason no-pony sleeps outside of the stations.”

“W-what do you mean?” I had faced down a horde of skittering ass-jockeys, I sure as hell didn’t want to face something worse while I slept.

Riot sighed heavily as he walked forward. I was starting to see slivers of moonlight through grates about a hundred feet up. “Other than the toxins and gas, a lot of critters like to hunt at night. Sleeping outside is generally considered to be a bad idea.”

How far until the nearest station? And is there anywhere safe where we can rest between here, and there?

“About two or so hours on the surface, but we’re not going to a station.” Riot stabbed a hoof towards the end of the tunnel. “There’s the ladder, pray to lunas firm flanks that there isn’t anything nasty sitting on it.”

We all breathed a sigh of relief, the tunnels were starting to grate on some of us. I could tell that Saw definitely didn’t like being down here, and I could only go so far with my eyes glued firmly on the ground to avoid going into shock.

So, who’s going up first?” Silence replied to the pegasus buck. He sighed. “Don’t everypony line up at once.” He grumbled, scrambling up the ladder, and poking his head up the ponyhole. I could see his neck moving from down here, swivelling his head to take in the surface. “Looks safe enough, come on, kids.” The blue pony finished dragging himself up, and dragged the ponyhole cover the rest of the way off.

The rest of us quickly followed suit. The idea of letting the large unicorn go ahead of me flitted across my brain, but a hearty hoof to the flank from Matchstick egged me on before he could mount the ladder. Silently cursing the other mare, I started to climb.

My head poked beyond the threshold of the hole, letting me take in the area from a rats view. I shuddered as I looked over the ruined street. A head to my rear reminded me I was holding up the line. Saw lowered his hoof in an offer of aid.

Come on, Dew, everypony up.” He pulled me to my hooves, and he stretched out his wings, sighing with relief. When Matchstick got herself up the ladder, she shot a look at the larger pony, and spoke. “You enjoy lookin down on me hmm? You like what you see?”

He looked at the blue mare flatly. “Maybe if I were younger, and you got into less bar fights.” His eyebrow raised at her.

The mare looked genuinely offended. “Y-younger!? Are you serious, are you saying I’m not old enough? I’m like...twenty five!” She clopped her hoof on the ground for emphasis.

Riot and I shared a look as the two broke down into half hearted arguing. Riot rolled his eyes before pointing down a broken street. “Dew, we’re headed for a small Ranger hold out about an hour or so from here. Keep close to me, and try and keep quiet.”

I nodded quickly as Saw and Matches continued to bicker. “Alright, I’ll keep my eyes open and stick to you.” I pulled the charging handle of my laser rifle with my wing; the weapon gave me a reassuring whirr in response. “I’ll try and keep my limbs attached.”

He smiled softly as he nodded. “That’s a good lass.”

Listen, it’s not because pretty, you’re just too young for me.” The two were continuing on their previous topic, it seemed. “And you ground pounders are so........dirty.” His nose turned up snootily, like a pure Cloudsdayle elite.

I giggled quietly as I started to follow Riot down the street. Matchs mouth fell as she failed to find the right words to cuss him out with. “You-you...TURKEY!” She turned her head towards us and started to canter away fro the buck, who was smirking smugly.

Sticks and stones, Dirt Pony.” He said, trotting behind us, all smiles.

“Stop your bickering and quiet down.” Riots voice wasn’t loud, but It quieted the rest of us down with ease. He looked back, slight anger in his eyes. “You’re making too much noise; drawing unwanted attention to us.”

Saw quieted down, and in an odd display of common sense, so did Match; Though she was obviously fuming at at the blue pegasus. Saw took up the rear guard, constantly checking over his shoulder to make sure nopony was trying to get the drop on us.

There was a loud roar in the distance, followed by automatic fire. Riot held a hoof up before pointing over to a ruined shop. The sound of fighting grew louder as we cantered into the broken shop. “Stay down and don’t make a single sound...” Riot pushed a large table over, giving us some solid, albeit holey cover. I peaked slowly through one of the holes in hopes of seeing what had driven our ranger escort straight into cover.

There was another loud roar from beyond a street spanning pile of rubble, followed by a shrill scream of absolute terror. Without warning, a pony fell onto the road, hitting hard and rolling. The pony tried to get up as he screamed again. I moved to get up, but Riot held me down. “Don’t move a muscle.” The bucks scream was quickly drowned out by the roar. A massive winged beast landed on top of the pony, snapping his legs with its sudden intrusion. The bucks scream was cut off as the creature snapped its jaws down on his head, then wrenched it to the side violently.

“S-s-sweet...Celesti-.” I gagged heavily as the thing wrenched again to the side, pulling the ponies head off; letting the spine trail with it. The rest of my party averted their eyes, but I couldn’t look away. With bile in my mouth; I spoke as quietly as possible. “W-what is that thing? I-is it some kind of griffon?”

I turned to Riot for an answer, but to my surprise all I saw was his legs and tail disappear into a back room. Matches bumped my shoulder for attention. “That’s a demon. Nastiest mother this side of Hoofington. It’s like a hellhound, but with wings and a nasty temper.”

What’s a hellhound?” Saw asked, cocking an eyebrow, covering a gag at the smell with a cough.

Matchstick smirked under her mask. “It’s a tunneling bipedal dog, that has claws that turn Steel Ranger armour into a glorified tin can.” She paused for a moment. “I hear that they may be smart enough to use guns though...”

Riots head poked back from the room adjacent to us. “Get over here, but be quiet.”

We all nodded in tandem and started to crawl over to the room. Riot stepped back as the sound of the demon tearing the ponies flesh apart filled the utterly silent street. When we were all in the back, Riot pointed to a small hole in the wall leading to the next building. “We’ll cut around, and leave that sucker to his dinner.”

After you, Milady.” Saw said, ‘graciously’ allowing Match to take the lead. “Don’t look at me like that, I had to go first last time.

Riot nickered. “Cut it out you two. I’ll take point, Saw on the rear.” He slid through the hole, luckily none of his packs or pouches got caught. I was next through the hole, it gave me the same amount of trouble.

“Riot, why are we going to the Ranger hold, instead of the station?” I cocked my head slightly as I followed behind him.

“It has a radio.”

I blinked quickly at his answer. “So?”
He sighed again, seemingly not enjoying the game of twenty questions. “So I can get into contact with Trotlis station. You know, try and find that sister of yours?”

Matchstick was next through the hole, struggling to get her wider hips through the small hole. “Having issues, Match?” Saw asked. I couldn’t see what he was doing on the other side, but with the shock on Match’s face, I’m pretty sure he’d just tried to push her flanks through into the other room.

Her eyes bulged again as she sputtered out her words. “Get your hooves off my butt!” She squeaked in surprise, covering her mouth with her hooves.

Just giving you a helping hoof is all.” I heard, muffled slightly by the wall. She moved forward slightly, her big flanks still not clearing the hole.

I stifled a giggled as she went beet red and clamped her eyes shut. Riot trotted over and stood over her. “This again? Do I really have to keep saving you, every damn time?”

She cringed slightly, still blushing deeply. “I-It’s not my fault! My butt-” She yelped a bit, which was followed by a quick chuckle from the other side of the wall. “S-stop that!”

The three of us that weren’t stuck shared in a laugh that was quickly cut off by a throaty roar from the other side of the wall. Matches eyes went wide and she flailed her hooves erratically. “Get me out of here!” Riot didn’t speak as he knelt down and grasped her hooves in his, pulling with all of his might.

The mare slid a bit more, but still didn’t come loose. There was another roar, followed by the sound of the storefront being smashed to pieces. Riot looked at me with worry in his eyes. “Dew! Kick out the bricks around her!”

I nodded and galloped towards the wall. I turned about and bucked at the wall; the dust and pieces of brick falling to the ground. With every kick, Matches came closer to freedom. When she came loose, I was somewhat disappointed to not hear a comical popping sound. Unfortunately, the roaring demon broke my thoughts apart. Saw yelled something as he dove through the hole just in time.

The demon slammed its head into the hole, snapping at us as dust and paint fell off the bricks. We all pulled back as it chomped at us; bits of pony meat flew out at us from where it was. The thing snarled one last time as it pulled back, disappearing completely.

Matchstick sobbed quietly from where she sat; cradling her hooves against her chest as she fought to not start hyperventilating.

You don’t have shit to complain about, Match. I was closer to being a turkey dinner than you were.” He breathed out loudly, wiping sweat, and a small bit of blood from his face. “I bet this isn’t the first time those things got you into trouble.” He gestured to her rear, with a chuckle.

She sniffed loudly. I honestly wondered whether or not she’d been through something like that before. “F-fuck you Buzzsaw...” She tried to get up on shaky hooves. “Let’s go, before that fucker comes around for seconds.”

Riot nodded quickly as he checked his rifles. “Yup, let’s get going, since all the flank touching is over with.” The mare groaned quietly from her spot.

Come on, Matches, up you get.” Saw said, taking her under her front legs, and pulling her onto her hooves. “Sorry about the pushing back there, but I’d really rather not have become a tasty winged snack.

Matchstick nodded slowly, sniffing quietly. “Yeah... I just didn’t want to be raped and eaten from the backside up by that damn thing...”

My eyes shot open. “That thing rapes ponies!?”

Riot looked over to me and shrugged. “Well, it is a mammal.”

I shuddered for a moment before composing myself. “Gross... If I ever get caught by one of those things, shoot me.”

He nodded and motioned towards another door. “Come on.” He started to trot forward, leading the way through the broken stripmall. Our hooves clambered over piles of dusty rags and mounds of garbage. Every now and then we would skirt around or just trot over a skeleton of varying size. Soon enough, darkness engulfed the area, leaving us in the pitch black city.

“Does anypony have a flashlight? If so I suggest getting it out.” Riots guns lit up as small flashlights on either one lit up in conjunction with the device on his leg. “Keep close, and keep your lights low.”

I fumbled about with my little utility belt, eventually finding the dinky little headlamp I had for maintenance work. It slid over the mask with ease, lighting up a small section of concrete in front of me. My breathing had become laboured, but I chalked that up to all of the action I had been thrown into within the last forty-eight hours.

Riot seemed to be breathing somewhat heavily when he turned to us. “If your breathing gets heavy and your mask starts to fog up, change filters. We’re getting pretty close to the hold but I’d rather not take any chances.”

Huh, well fuck. “Thanks for the heads up Riot.” I used my wing to pull open my bag, then to fish out one of the green cylinders. I unscrewed the one I had on after taking a deep breath. I let the fouled up filter fall to the ground before I screwed on the new one. Almost immediately my vision cleared and breathing became much easier.

Saw looked over to Match, who was fumbling with her mask, hooves still shaking from her brush with death. She flinched when Saw turned to her, putting a hoof on her shoulder. “Do you need some help?” He asked, holding a filter in his wing.

“I’ll b-be fine.” She sat down for a moment, pawing open one of the pouches that was sewn onto the front of her raggedy armour. She pulled out a cylinder of her own and set it down on the ground.

Alright, remember, I’ll always be here to lend a helping hoof, you just gotta ask.” He leaned down a bit, getting closer to her, and patted her head, rustling her mane a bit.

I pursed my lips into a slight smile. When Saw trotted up to me I bumped him with my flank. “What’s up with that? You got a crush or what?” I spoke under my breath so that Matchstick couldn’t hear us.

Just feel a mite guilty, is all.” He said, rather unconvincingly.

Riiiight.” I smirked at him before punching him lightly. “Too old my butt.”

Hey, what did I tell you about respectin’ your elders? There ain’t any ulterior motives here, just a bit of friendly concern.” He hoofed me back.

“Pftt, right. You jus’ wanna stick your thingy in her thingy.”

Don’t be foalish, she’s half my age.” The blue buck said, looking away from me, a slight blush on his pale cheeks.

I pursed my lips at him in the midst of a smirk. “Uh huh, sure. Teeny bopper.”

Oh shut it, you’ve been rearing for some rearing from our ‘tour guide’ since we met him.” He chuckled, bumping me with his flank.

See, if you can’t take the heat, get out of the rocket propulsion test chamber.” The pegasus said, nudging me again.

I waved my hooves about in a completely effective attempt to save face. “That doesn’t matter! So you shush!” I looked away from Saw, only to see both Riot and Matchstick staring at us in confusion. I blushed even brighter as Saw coughed awkwardly. “Uhhh...Hi.”

Riot shook his head as he rubbed a hoof down the front of his mask. “You two are horrible.” He looked towards a small park that lay in the distance. “Let’s move.”

The large pegasus slowed, to retake the rear guard behind Match. He was supposed to be watching our flank, but he was a bit busy watching a certain blue flank. I rolled my eyes, but as he had said earlier, I wasn’t much better in the flank staring department.

Speaking of which... NO! Dammit Dew, pay attention! My eyes snapped forward and I ensured my grip on the laser rifles bit piece. Riot turned to us and pointed to a small ponyhole near the edge of the playground. “I’ll check to make sure that we’re not intruding on anything interesting. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for anything hostile.”

He trotted forward, then poked the cover a couple times. It beeped, oddly enough, before sliding open automatically. Riot wrapped his hooves around the ladder and slid out of view.

I watched as Saw slightly sped up, so that he’d go down just before Match. After I’d scrambled inside, I saw him looking straight up as he climbed down, Match going down just above him.

Riot grunted behind me as he pulled off his gas mask and tossed it onto an empty bunk. “Celestia, that was a long day.” He sat down heavily on the bunk before he started to pull at the release straps of his bags and rifles.

I looked about, only seeing three bunks. “Uh... There’s only three bunks Riot...” In my mind I was giggling like a school filly, but on the outside I was as cool as a cloud daisy.

I volunteer to sleep on the floor.” Saw said, giving me a shit-eating grin. That bastard!

Riot nickered. “No need, I’ll take first watch, keep a fire going.” He shrugged off all of his gear before hopping up. He rolled his shoulders about with only the weight of a sweaty grey shirt to weigh him down. “I need time to cool down after all that.”

Match yawned widely. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m bone tired. I’ll see y’all in the AM.” Without ceremony, the mare plopped down on one of the bunks and promptly passed out with her flamer leaning against the wall.

The large blue pegasus next to me went over to a bunk, and sat down on his haunches. “Fancy a bit of a preen before bed Dew? The wings get really stiff if you don’t use ‘em all day.” He asked, ruffling his in demonstration.

I shrugged my shoulders as an answer and plopped down in front of him. “Fly at ‘em.”

I swear I could hear Riot grimace. “I’m gonna be in the side room, my rifles need... uh, cleaning.” He promptly picked up his battle saddle and dragged it into a small side room. The door thumped closed behind him, leaving us completely alone, save for the comatose mare

Saw went to work on one of my wings, as I laid out on my side. I instantly started relaxing, his warm hooves like magic over my feathers. The big pony continued down the wing, righting any ruffled feathers he came across. “You really like that buck, don’t you?

I murmured as I laid on my stomach.

We both know it’s true, you can stop hiding it.” He said, nudging me over onto my other side. Now I was facing him, blush working it’s way onto my orange cheeks.

“He’s a nice buck, what’s not to like?” I looked away from Saw, almost embarrassed by the prospect now.

I don’t know, isn’t he a little old for you? And we just met him.” He looked towards the door that Riot had disappeared into.

“And he’s the first buck other than you that hasn’t berated me or tried something mean. That would be in a relationship position I mean...” I shuffled my hooves from my spot on the floor. “And have you seen that horn? Hot damn.” I forced a lecherous smirk.

What’s gotten into you? You’ve gone and turned into a slutty pony after two days on the surface.” He nudged me showing that he was finished, and laid down next to me; extending his wings for his turn.

I grudgingly got up and started to preen that smug blue fucker. “I’m not a slutty pony! What makes you even say that?” I hoofed him in the side as I started from the top of the wing.

Oh, just the fact that if you knew he’d do it, you’d walk right in there, bend over, and lift your tail, no questions asked. Don’t act like it’s not true.” He chuckled at me, as my cheeks burst into flaming red.

“No, it’s not!” I smacked him for good measure. “Dammit Saw, I’ve never done anything like that!” I glared at him, stopping his preening half way through.

But you were thinkin’ it.” He looked at me with that shit-eating grin, laughing at my irritation.

I sputtered in anger. “And you’re any better? I know a horny buck when I see it!” I lowered my voice slightly when Matches rolled over and covered her head with a thin pillow. “Stop accusing me of being a slut dammit, you know I’m not.”

He blinked, looking down at the mention of Matches. “T-that’s different.....anyway, I was just playing with you, Dew. I don’t think you’re a slutty pony, I just want you to make sure you weigh the options before you act, you know?” The blue buck said, parental concern in his eyes.

I let my tone soften considerably. “I AM thinking Saw, I’m always careful about this kind of thing... He killed those raiders to save me, we...I can trust him.” I started to preen the buck again.

I just.....I don’t want you to get hurt again.” The blue pony said, leaning into my hooves.

“I won’t Saw... Black Rain was...Something else. He was a bad pony, and I was in a bad way at the time. I won’t make the same mistake again.” I was biting my lip at the thought of the jerkass who was still hiding up in the clouds like a coward.

Yeah, I understand.” He paused for a moment, seemingly collecting his thoughts. “About.....about Matches. It’s just that.......it’s been so long since Star......” His words petered off into nothingness, unable to continue.

Cussing myself out on the inside, I finished his last feather before I spoke. “You never really told me much about her, who was she?”

I know, I don’t really like talking about her, Dashites don’t make for much pleasant conversation.” He said, deep voice cracking ever so slightly.

“We’re both dashites Saw...” I had something else planned to say, but just uttering the word slammed it to a stop. My goddess... I was a dashite! I hadn’t really thought about it until now.

I guess we are. And since the going lifespan for surface dwellers seems to be about forty-five minutes, I guess I can tell you about her, at least a bit.” He shrugged his wings, folding them back to his sides. The blue buck dragged himself onto his cot, putting his head on the pillow. I got on as well, lying next to him on my side. He stroked my mane, like he used to do when I was younger. “She was my wife, you know that much. She ran off looking for......something, or somepony. So hard to remember now.....” He shook his head. “Its part of the reason why I helped you get down here, so I could look for something, anything. A body, something, any remains. I know it’s a fools errand, whatever killed her probably ate her too.” He looked away, and stopped petting me. “I’m going to get some shuteye, goodnight, Dew.

“Goodnight BuzzSaw, I’ll see you in the morning...” I pulled off the bed and onto my hooves. I could hear Riot working in the other room, but I wasn’t so sure if approaching him how I was, was such a good idea. I shook my head and glanced longingly at my cot. It had been a very long day considering all we had gone through.

I wanted to, but after what Saw had said; I wasn’t so sure of my sudden desire towards our hardened wasteland guide. He was a nice buck after all, and was very capable. I couldn’t kid myself about that, but there was just so much I didn’t know about him...

There was a small clatter from the other room, causing me to toss my thoughts aside and poke my head through the now open door.

“Riot? Are you okay?” I asked, peering inside.

He looked up from the small work bench as he slid something back into the front pocket of his pants. “Hey Dew. I figured that you’d be asleep by now after all of that running and the like.” The buck turned to look at me, his tail swishing about slowly.

“Oh, I just....I heard something fall, are you alright?” Stupid question, of course he was alright you idiot!

The buck waved a dismissive hoof. “I’m fine, the action was giving me a bit of a fight.” He gestured towards the twin assault rifles that sat on the table.

“Y-yeah. You’re right. I should get some sleep.....” I said, but I didn’t move. “C-could you teach me?”

Riot cocked an eyebrow. “To sleep? I figured you had that down pat.”

I tried to giggle cutely, but probably sounded like a wounded cat. “I-I didn’t mean.....I...what I meant was, ummm, can you teach me to repair things?”

Riot smiled at me, I almost fainted on the spot. Damn this excitable heart of mine! “I suppose, if you promise to remember what I taught you.”

“Y-yes, Sir.....w-whatever you want, I’ll do it.” I mentally berated myself for how that sounded.

The buck rolled his eyes to cap off his smile. “Alright, grab that rifle over there.” His hoof pointed to a sorry looking excuse of a weapon that sat in the corner of the repair room.

“A-alright.” Shit I was so nervous. I didn’t want to end up looking like a clumsy ditz in front of Riot. I took the rifle in my mouth, and placed it on the table.

He set his hooves on the table. “Alright, I’m not gonna use any magic for this, that way you can learn properly. Now pay close attention, you need to make sure the rifle is completely empty of ammunition, regardless of the type.” He cycled the action on the rifle, spitting out a tiny round. He then pulled off the magazine, the cycled it again. This time, he left the action open. “Now you’re absolutely sure that the weapon is empty, right?”

I nodded. “Mmhmm.” I put my hoof towards the weapon, trying to remember my safety courses. “And then we make it safe, right?” I asked, flicking the tiny tongue-lever on the side of the bit.

“Yup, now we need to-

Footnote: Lvl Up!

New Perk: Pay Attention! Looks like somepony kicked that little brain of yours into gear! You remember a portion of your enclave training. Repair, small guns, and energy weapons get the one time bonus of +10

Standing Change:

Horseshen: Seriously disliked.

Had fun doing this chapter, hopefully I’ll be able to upload some more real soon. Thanks to all you loyal readers and fans of the fic. Dew has gone beet red just at the thought of anypony reading, let alone enjoying her journal.

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Comments ( 4 )

good chapter again and the rifle was still loaded :facehoof:

This chapter is winner in nomination 'biggest amount of character's development' :yay:
Love love it. :twilightsheepish:

Yes I found you.....muh hahahahahahaha.........have a Derpy. :derpytongue2:

This is Saivost form the EQRG......um, just in case you know another guy named Saivost.........

Awesome story by the way.......need to see more.......and why is If I Knew You in Another Life not on this site? :ajbemused:

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