• Published 17th Nov 2011
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Fallout: Equestria- The Last Sentinel - Adder1



It's hard to kill memories when you remember everything.

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Chapter Ten: The Sound, The Fury

Chapter Ten: The Sound, The Fury


The storyteller cracked a thin smile and chuckled softly.

You folks are starting to look a little drowsy right about now. I warned you all, didn't I? Well, I have some good news- this part's gonna wake you right up.

I do hope, though, that it doesn't wake everyone up...

Ahem, now then.

Melt away.

* * *

“Fuck,” I cursed. “Just... fuck!”

“Okay, I'm guessin' I'm not goin' loco, den.” Beat Blaze stared. “What's goin' on?”

“You're not going crazy- I just have a telepathic friend,” I spoke, my mind racing for a plan. “Azrael, you can see and hear me through Beat Blaze, right?”

“She's sayin' yeah, yeah,” the stallion answered, nodding.

“Can you and Rig evade?” I asked, my heart picking up the pace.

“Ay yi yi, why am I bein' de medium here, huh?” he grumbled. “No, she says dere ain't a chance. Dey'll have to hold a position somewhere.”

Fuck.

Just... fuck.

I sighed, “Beat Blaze, you're probably going to hate me for this...”

“Ya wanna make dis place de said position,” he surmised, pointing a hoof downwards.

“I'm sorry, but the fact of the matter is I don't know the layout of the rest of the buildings in Vealville as well as this one,” I pleaded. Right words, right way. “I've got promises to keep to both of them, Beat Blaze. But if you want us to leave and fight it out in the Waste-”

He slugged me. He actually slugged me! Granted, I saw it coming and raised a hoof to block, but he slugged me!

“Ay, jeez!” The friendly-blue unicorn winced, waving his hoof. “Dat didn't quite come out like I planned...” He stared at me. “Can ya start a bit back and lemme hit ya?”

I raised an eyebrow. “What for?”

“For theatrics' sake! ¿Sale vale?”

“Sale vale,” I sighed, unable to help from smiling. Who was I to deny a little theatrics? “But if you want us to leave and fight it out in the Waste-”

And he slugged me. Right in the face. Suffice to say, I didn't feel it at all. I gave him the pleasure of looking as if I did, though.

“De hell do ya tink I am, boy?” Beat Blaze snorted. He then flashed his classic, smug smirk and flipped down his blood-red glasses. “Ya tink I'm gonna turn my back on ya now? Hell yeah, we're usin' dis place to fight back! Believe it!”

I couldn't help myself and just shook my head, chuckling, “Way, way too theatrical, Beat Blaze.”

“Ya friend tinks de same,” he grumbled. “Guess I'm too old for dis kinda stuff. Damn ya, boy! Damn ya for agin' gracefully!”

“And you haven't?” I grinned.

“Well not as gracefully as ya!” He poked me with a hoof. “Now let's get rollin'.”

I nodded stoutly to him, resuming my female disguise once more- just in case.

We emerged from the storeroom back into the thumping tunes and lancing lights of the dance floor, squinting my sensitive eyes as I found myself struggling to contain myself once more. Beat Blaze nodded at his replacement at the turntables and they cycled out again. The two shared a quick conversation that I couldn't hope to catch over the music. Beat Blaze levitated a microphone out from behind the counter while the other headed back to the bar, signaling to the other personnel. The music cut out suddenly, and the industrial lights overhead went on. The swaying, swinging ponies and griffins started winding down in confusion, looking around and throwing up a small fuss.

“Hey, hey, DJ DuBB here, sorry for de interruption,” Beat Blaze spoke over the mic. “We're having some, eh, technical difficulties. Real sorry, folks, but I'm gonna have to ask ya all to leave.”

I facehoofed. Yep, that's the creed of all the PoN3's, folks- bringing you the truth, no matter how bad it hurts.

Unfortunately, that also means that they can't lie for shit.

Booing and general slander rang out from the crowd. The poor, old coot ducked as a boot flew his way, and then he did so again for another.

“Bullspit!” an angry shout rose over the din of disappointment. “What kind of technical difficulties, huh?”

It was then that Azrael battered her way backwards through the glass doors, Harbinger roaring as she retreated into the old warehouse. Rig was right beside her (Still smoking!) with Luna's Fortitude out, supporting her with hammer-taps. One of the plainclothes griffins, armed with a machete, charged at Rig only for her to teleport the blade away and and lodge her bayonet in his throat.

Dat kinda technical difficulties, boy!” Beat Blaze exclaimed as many of the clubbers backed away from the imposing giant. He and many of the other nightclub personnel ducked down low. Several clubbers were raising weapons at the two.

“No, don't shoot, don't shoot!” I shouted. “They're on our side!”

“Watch it!” Azrael shouted, rearing around. “The griffins!”

I shared the others' confusion at this before I remembered- there were a looooot of griffins in here.

“Which ones? Which ones?!”

“All of them!” the giant exclaimed. My eyes locked on one right as he whipped out a pistol, time slowing to a crawl. Too many ponies around and too close for Luna's Judgment and her devastating firepower.

But thankfully, Night Fang could still be accurate when needed and quick on the draw. I pulled her out with a hastily formed ice arm, pulled her up, took aim, and fired. The fat .45 flew slowly through the air before time snapped back to speed. The round caught him in the shoulder, causing his shot to go wild into a shelf instead.

Realizing they were compromised, the other griffins similarly drew their weapons and made for the doors. Rig and I tried to take accurate shots when we could, but the now-panicked crowd and the fact that the Dead Boys were retreating rather than fighting only allowed the two of us to take another three down. Thankfully, the few clubbers that actually decided to bring weapons cut down another two. Azrael was helpless the entire time and tried to fly back towards the turntables as the griffins took potshots at her. A good number of shots scored against her. She landed at my side bloodied, but she landed strong.

“Dammit!” I snarled, reshaping my disguise into sloped armor, thickening it up for medium calibers. “Are you alright?”

“I'll live!” Azrael shouted over the chaos as she slugged down a healing potion and reloaded Harbinger.

“Rig, this way!” I yelled to the young mare as she tried to shove through the crowd to no avail. I tapped the gem on my breastplate, causing it to glow an angry blue. “Be still!

Suffice to say, it had the desired effect of getting everypony to stop moving, allowing Rig to slip past to my side with Azrael, who was again covering her ears. Satisfied, I tapped the gem again to deactivate it. However, that left me with another problem...

“Wow!” Rig brightened up upon seeing all the musical equipment. “That's a huuuge speaker! Frost, look at the size of this thing! It's easily, like, eight times bigger than the ones we had back in Stable Three! Hey, what is that?” She trotted up to a deactivated light display. “What is that?” She looked at a strobe light now. “What is that?” She was not pointing at the turntables. The records got her attention though. “Ooh, that thing has numbers on it...”

Beat Blaze leaned over the counter with a raised eyebrow and his sunglasses lowered. Rig smiled sheepishly and backed away. “She dat Stable engie ya talked about?” he asked me.

“It's too easy to tell isn't it?” I sighed.

With the crowd quiet and my friends (I... could consider Azrael a friend, right?) at my side, Beat Blaze rose up. “Yo folks, ya heard of de Dead Boys? Well dey're pickin' a fight with de Sentinel and his pals! Yeah, dat's right, de Sentinel! Ya pay any attention to PoN3? Dis is dat guy he was talkin' about yesterday! But more importantly, dey're gonna pick a fight here on our turf! Now tell me, folks, ya like dis club?”

Yeah!” a few members of the crowd echoed shouted, particularly the ones who fought back.

“Ya like dis music?”

Yeah!” more of them yelled in reply.

“Ya like dis DJ?” he pumped his hooves at himself.

Yeah!!!” the ponies exclaimed in unison.

“Den put ya money where ya mouth is, de caps where ya canter is, de bits where your buck is- fight for it all, folks!” Beat Blaze yelled, slamming his hooves on the counter. “Show dese Dead Boys ya don't mess with Vealville!”

Cheering broke through the crowd, but a good bunch of the ponies looked at each other. And then they started running for the doors. Seeing that they had less support than expected, the cheer started dying out and the initially supportive few among them started bolting as well. Rig stared in disbelief, her cigarette spilling a bit of ash onto the floor. Azrael closed her eyes and looked down. I just facehoofed.

“Bastards!” Beat Blaze shouted after them. “What, good music ain't good enough for ya to fight for? Dammit, my speech skills musta be gettin' rusty...”

“Life tends to win out on overall value and importance,” the giant griffin sighed before turning to the DJ and cowing her head lightly. “Azrael Razorwing.”

“So... ya dat voice in my head?” He stared. “Den... dat means...”

“She's a telepath, yes,” I finished for him, nodding. “Before you ask, we don't know how. She doesn't know how. Just know she's Azrael, telepathic griffin.”

“And Rig!” the young mare piped in with that lovely smirk of hers. “Just Rig!”

“Beat Blaze,” my informant introduced himself. “Folks here call me DJ DuBB.” He shouted out the door. “Yeah, de same folks who just bailed deir asses on me for what I gave 'em! Burros...”

“We're still here, DJ!” the earth pony barmare yelled. I glanced around. There were a good ten or so left out of the employees.

“Ya all armed?”

They responded by pulling out their weapons. The barmare? She hefted on a battle saddle equipped with a Minigun that she somehow managed to hide under the counter!

“Sweet Twilight...” I muttered, staring. “Is that a real Minigun? As in, the real M-One-Thirty-Four-D Gatling Minigun? Not the cheap knockoff Rackingwell CZ series that fires much slower and uses five-mil ammo?”

“Three-thousand rounds-per-minute?” the mare sneered. “Seven-six-two NETO ammo belt that takes up the entire counter storage space? Hay yeah!”

“Dear Goddess...” I shook my head. “There won't be any seven-six-two left in Vealville after tonight...”

“Still wondering how she found dat ting,” Beat Blaze chuckled. His horn flared black as he levitated out a compact weapon of sorts. It had the familiar grip of a pistol, but the gun itself was box-shaped and almost toy-like in appearance. It was a magical energy pistol, not too common a sight in the Wasteland even then.

“Still wondering how you found that,” I spoke in turn, raising an eyebrow. “I'm honestly surprised it isn't falling apart on you.”

“Ya kiddin' me?” the fire-maned old-timer laughed. “Dis is an AEP7, boy! Most durable model in de series!”

“Good Goddesses, everyone is a gun nut!” Rig exclaimed, facehoofing. “Why is everyone a gun nut?”

“I hate to ruin the conversation,” Azrael spoke up, “but the plainclothes have all pulled out of the area. Fully armed and armored Dead Boys have entered my radius. A small platoon and two Heavies are one mile away and closing fast. No sign of the Hunter unit yet, but they're still inbound as far as I could glean.”

“No idea what dat means, but it probably ain't good.” Beat Blaze frowned.

“It isn't,” I told him as I stowed Night Fang and whipped out Luna's Judgment, swapping for flechettes as I raised my voice. “Take defensive positions, everyone. Expect explosive and high-powered weaponry, expect them to blow through walls, and expect cloaked griffins!” My eyes darted around, watching as the nightclub personnel started taking cover, flipping over tables. I turned to my friends. “Rig, you're the only one here with a suppressed weapon. Find a place to hunker down and keep out of sight as much as possible.”

“You got it!” Rig nodded, flicking her cigarette away and knocking down her welder's helmet as she scrambled for the rows of shelves.

“Azrael, keep us updated as best you can. You're on area suppression duty with the barmare.”

“Understood,” she acknowledged. “Dead Boys at three-quarters of a mile and closing.”

“I have a name, you know!” said barmare exclaimed. “Come on, you've been here enough times! It's-”

“Grapevine, I know I know!” I turned to the DJ. “Trying to get things done quickly! Beat Blaze-”

“Really?” He looked unimpressed. “Me too?”

I smirked. “Play my mix.”

The friendly-blue stallion blinked a few times in confusion.

“Do you seriously expect me to fight here of all places without getting pumped?” I smirked wider.

Beat Blaze gave that classic, smug smirk back to me. “Take it from the top?”

I nodded. “Take it from the top. Yellow Line.”

“Hooooooo boy, shit's gonna get reeeeeal, chiiiiiildren!” Beat Blaze laughed as a black-wrapped record flew out from behind the counter.

“Really, Frost?” Azrael eyed me.

“Just watch and listen,” I chuckled softly. “Just watch and listen.”

The DJ put the record safely into place and set the needle down. Three. Two. One. And...

That heavy bass blasted from the speakers, and the overheads went out as the dance lights kicked on. I bobbed my head in time with the beat as the lights flashed around me once more, closing my eyes. No restraining myself this time- I felt the beat rumble through every fiber of my being, my heart quickening its pace to match it. Ohhhhh, yes... ohhhhhhh hell yes!

“Really, Frost?!” Azrael shouted over the overwhelming beat, cringing as the cymbals trickled in.

“Twilight Sparkle, you actually like this kind of music?!” Rig cried out from somewhere I couldn't see her.

My eyes snapped open, a my vision sharpening as I laughed, “Ohhhh, no I don't.” I jerked my head in the direction where I heard Rig, my body rippling with the waves of sound. “I love it!”

“I don't think I'll ever fully know just who you are, Frost!” Azrael shook her head, doing her best to block out the music (Why? Why would she do that? Why? Just, just why? Why?). “Dead Boys a quarter-mile and closing!”

Folks, there's a saying out there. “Music soothes the savage beast,” if I'm not mistaken.

Well, in my case, it can unleash it too.

My mouth contorted into a wild, sharp smile as I drew in breath, rearing up on my hindlegs. I let out that inequine roar and slammed back down in time with that first series of guitar riffs. The music invigorated me, made me powerful, made me ready to take on an Ursa Major! When that synth came in, I didn't even need to hear Azrael's shout, barely rising over the din (It was me now- I was the star of the show! The dance floor's all mine! It's all me!). I was already breaking for right side of the building as a good chunk of the wall blew open (Smart smart smart, they created an entry point behind a shelf to use it as initial cover, music music music!). I noted but otherwise paid no attention to similar events occurring on the left side. The gunfire around me was drowned out as I tore for the fresh hole in the wall, the smoke still hanging in the air. The hazy outline of the hostiles pouring through guided Luna's Judgment as she claimed her first life of the day. Flechettes punched into the neck of the first griffin that raced through. I raced past him as he fell to the floor clutching his neck, breaking for the second one. Ignoring the slew of bullets that pinged and rolled off of my ice armor, I sent another slurry of metal darts at him. He staggered back, clutching his side with his assault rifle shots (Ooh, he had a Heller & Coach G3, no time to discern which variant, untz untz untz!) going wild. Not dead, not yet. I lunged at him with Luna's Judgment, bashing him in the chest with the hooked end to topple him overs, then once again on the head (Oh that solid crack in time with the beat, oh that beat, yes that beat!). The last-

Oh Goddess a Heavy (No no, don't need to worry! I can take on an Ursa Major like this, I can take him! I'm high on music! Ohhhh, slowing time would help so much but no! No! No no no! Music, I wanted that music! Don't slow down, don't lose that beat, don't lost that beat!)! I broke sideways, ice muscle tendrils snapping down my legs as I cantered faster than he could turn to fire with the Ripper autocannon (I don't like you, no- your shots are blocking out the music! My music!). I leveled Luna's Judgment at his head and fired. No dice. Fired again. Nope. Fired a third time. No, not even the charm. Apparently their helmets were better-armored than their rears. He was starting to catch on as he realized he couldn't track me with the Ripper and instead lunged toward me with the intention of turning me to pulp with his power armor-assisted claw swipes and punches (Dumbass dumbass dumbass, challenging me- me- in close combat!). I shimmied around each strike, swaying my body to that lovely beat, bashing him repeatedly on the head with my crowbar. It wasn't enough to really hurt him (Are you kidding me?), but it was enough to buy me time to sprout a third arm and flash out my wicked, gleaming blade-

Oh, hey, no wait a second. Gleaming? Ribbed handles? Whoops, wrong one. That was Silver Skean.

I swiveled to the side and ducked down to dodge the Heavy's pitiful, sluggish attempts to get at me, buying me the split second I needed to slide my blade away and whip out Midnight Talon (There we go! Revel in the music, but don't let it mess your tempo!) with a Viper. I dodged inside of the Heavy's next punch and closed the distance, punching the blade through the temple and withdrawing cleanly. The armored griffin collapsed to the floor with an almighty crash. Another Dead Boy grappled me from behind (Damn it, Frost, get in the game! Don't let the tempo mess with your... tem...po... dammit! Think fast, act fast!). Big mistake. You never, ever try that on anypony trained like me (Lucky, Frost, you got lucky this time)! Never! Especially not me! I steadied my stance and swung and swayed in time with the music, jerking suddenly to throw off his grip and send him off-balance. I cut down with Midnight Talon, slicing his arm clean off. He was just beginning to scream (No, not over my music, damn you!) before I spun around, using my momentum and his weakness to send him tumbling to the floor. I stamped my hooves down on his head and it popped like an overripe tomato over me (Oh right. I still had ice muscles! [Wow, four Dead Boys and one Heavy down already! Hah, you're an animal, Frost, you're an animal! Wait... I'm thinking while thinking? Whoop, crap, sorry!]). Now as a snazzy beat filled my ears, I directed myself back to the rest of the building, rushing back into the fray. Azrael's Harbinger barely broke over music (Tolerable, it's tolerable...) as she approached the left side, suppressing the Dead Boys trying to swarm in there. Her Stalliongrad-green tracer rounds cut through the air like the neon beams that flashed from the center light display. Beat Blaze was taking cover behind the turntables, firing his energy pistol in time with the flashing beams of light (Smart smart smart, and it goes perfectly with the display like Azrael!). Grapevine spat out a stream of bullets with that M134D, indistinguishable from one another in a droning buzz as she drove back the ones trying to get in through the main entrance. By the way, do you know what a real Minigun sounds like when firing? It sounds like a fart (Yes, that's right- a fart. A fart of death! Aaaaaahahahahaaaa!)! I couldn't see nor hear any hint of Rig over the music- probably a good thing. That left the ones streaming through the entrance past the occasional pauses in Grapevine's Minigun fire for me (Maybe Rig or Beat Blaze? Nah, it's all me!). I roared out something about watching fire to the others and that I was going in. I don't know, something like that. There was a light spring to my sprint as I made way for the griffins hiding behind the shelves. Unable to push through with the Minigun pinning them down, I only needed to sweep and clear. Rushed past the first set. One griffin, female. Fired into her at point-blank, causing her to snap back and slump down to the floor, leaving a messy stain behind, weakly raising a claw to block my next strike (Did she really think that would save her? Huh?). I savagely beat down on her body with the crowbar, trading the hooked end with the blade as I bludgeoned and stabbed the lifeblood out of her again and again and again until the only twitches she made were from the force of my blows. Okay, move on. Second set. Three of them, all anticipating me this time- the first one had his carbine raised at my head (Oh, but he had his arm out- big mistake, big mistake!). Midnight Talon sliced off the carbine griffin (It was a- nah, forget it. No time to take in the details! Ooh, hey the music wound down a little.) as Luna's Judgment took down the next (I'm so awesome, multitasking like that!). The third dropped low, causing my next shot to miss (Bastard!) as I slashed back to decapitate the armless guy. I couldn't pump the action fast enough before he fired his own shotgun at me (Oh hey, he had a shotgun! Finally, there's someone else! Lever-action too!). Huh, wait, did something just crack? I didn't have the time to think about that and proceeded to fire off a quick pair of shots at him (Again, double-tapping a shotgun? Impossible? Not with me! Because I'm awesome like that!). He wasn't fast enough to dodge those.

The scratch of vinyl filled my ears (Probably the ears of everyone else too. Hey wait, I didn't ask for a change in music! No wait, that's just a part of the song. Moving on!) and ruined my tempo. It was also then that I noticed where that crack had come from. The last Dead Boy bastard was using slugs, and it had penetrated through my ice armor. Luckily, my breastplate took the impact of the otherwise lethal shot. Again, folks, few things in the Wasteland could hope to pierce through Lunar Guard armor.

Whoa. Did I just blow through all of that? Heh, sorry folks... was letting the memory of the music get to me. I'll proceed. Slower.

Ah, who the hell am I kidding? I was hyped and high on music back then! I couldn't slow down!

As the music transitioned into something appropriately rockier, I reformed my ice armor and made for the third set of shelves. They were ready for me this time (Ohhhh, smart smart smart! But not smart enough!). They were already backing away and the higher-caliber bullets were chipping at my armor now instead of glancing off (Nooo, don't want a repeat of last time, and can't let Her get hurt! You're an animal, Frost, but you're a clever animal, yes yes yes, the most dangerous kind!). I snarled and backed off, weaving back behind the last row I cleared. The memory of the griffins' positions still fresh in my mind, I leaped up clear over the top shelf (Hee! I still had ice muscles!) and came down hard on the griffin on the other side, landing forcefully to break his spine. The griffin beside me cursed something I could barely pick out and backed off, firing his handcannon at me (You fucker! You did that just as the riffs came back in! You! Will! Die!). Ignoring the crunch of my ice and the clang of the huge rounds against my Lunar Guard armor, I trained Luna's Judgment on him and rapidly fired a string of shots to silence him- far more than necessary (Because I'm an animal, fucker! And you messed up my music!). The first tore up his arm, causing him to drop his weapon. The second shred into his chest armor. The third, fourth, and fifth buried into his head with enough force to snap his neck and cause his head to lean back at an unnatural angle (Hee! Look at that! Look at how silly that looked! Look look look! Ahhh, and just as those “Oh ye-ye-yeahs” started kicking in...) as he fell to reveal the griffin far behind him, armed with a light machine gun (Oh, so you're the one who made me retreat last time! Well not now, fucker!). I kept up my overkill-level spray of flechette shells, roaring as we traded bark-like shots that mixed with the music and the crack of my ice armor. It ultimately held up better than the griffin's, who eventually staggered to the floor with blood leaking out of a great many holes in his form. That left the ones behind me-

What the fuck! They ran?! They retreated?! Cowards! I leaped over the shelf again-

They were waiting for me this time, big rounds tearing, tearing into my underside (Oh shit, my belly's not armored! Should I be worried? And they weren't retreating! They were regrouping!) as I landed hard on, on nothing (They backed out of the way! Worried, should be worried? No, no, no! They're firing over my music!). I growled as I opened up down one side and rapidly formed and flung an ice javelin down the other (Master of music and multitasking! No one gets away this time!). Luna's Judgment fired and fired and fired and clicked and clicked-

Wait.

Fuck!

I hissed and howled as I rushed the trio of LMG-armed griffins down the line, trying to draw away from me (Not fast enough, bitches!). Sliding the latch closed on Midnight Talon (Oh hey, I still had her out!), I popped her up into a hammer grip and threw her out, the dazzling flash of lights catching on her dimly reflective form before she caught the lead griffin in the head (Who's awesome? I am!). The hellhound claw-lined blade easily punched through the faceplate and the Dead Boy fell as I barreled toward the one on the right. I smashed my crowbar (Reload? Are you cuh-razy? I don't need to reload right now! And the guitar-heavy part came back on! I was gonna rock right with it!) into the side of his head past the faceplate, bringing it back against its momentum to bash at the other side. As he fell, I wasted no time on the third and last of the trio, who was now swinging at me with a power fist. I jerked out of the way, bringing my elbow down on her (Huh, another female! Why do they call themselves the Dead Boys, I wonder?) arm as it passed by, looking down and sublimating the ice on my helm as I did so. The effect? Her neck was yanked straight down- into the sharp, metal fin of my helm. The flashing rainbow of lights of the nightclub were muted behind a shower of red as the nearly-headless griffin bled out on me. I shoved her off, reformed my ice armor, and turned back toward the griffins on the other side. They looked absolutely pale beneath their feathers (Oh come on, I wasn't that scary was I?) and they, they-

Oh come on! It's no fun if you run away! They were running now (Why were they running? They were hardened mercs! I could understand raiders, but- gah! Focus!). One of them had been pinned to the floor by the javelin I threw earlier, the pegged wing preventing him from fleeing with the others. The others barely skirted past the row of shelves before another fart (of death!) sounded off and they were chewed up into black and red chunks of flesh by Grapevine. The pinned griffin looked from the gnarled remains of his comrades and back with me, and I could see the fear in his eyes past the faceplate. As I reloaded Luna's Judgment and pulled out Midnight Talon from the head of the fallen Dead Boy, I liked to think that the others were given a much more merciful death. He was still trying to scramble away, and he'd been firing tiny SMG rounds into me the whole time, even having time to reload as I took a few steps toward him with a toothy grin. The pinned griffin actually threw his empty weapon at me (He missed, by the way.), and he pulled out a-

Grenade! No, you fucker, you won't deny me of my satisfaction! I roared and pounced on him, string and synth mixing with his screams as I sliced off his arm with Midnight Talon, snatching both the dismembered limb and the grenade up and throwing them over the shelves as far away from me and toward the entrance as possible. I knocked off his faceplate and yanked his head backward as it detonated far away, wanting to see his face for all of this (His expression! Hah! I loved it! His eyes were tiny little pinpricks, and phlegm and tears mixed as he screamed and squawked over his missing arm! I loved it! Think of how funny it looked, seeing his upside-down expression with those upside-down tears and those upside-down boogers! Isn't it funny?!).

“Hold still!” I seethed, my vision sharpening over the curtain of blood, my balisong snapping rolling between my fingers with its handles still latched together. “It'll only hurt a lot!”

I howled with laughter and he howled in agony as my blade bit into his cheek, carving slowly, artfully around. His free wing beat uselessly against me as he tried to shake me off (Around and around Midnight Talon went, around and around she went!). His struggle ended only a few seconds through, and I pulled his face free, complete with his beak. I looked between the bloody thing I held in my icy hand and the faceplate I knocked off, satisfied with the similarity.

The song ended, and I was shocked out of my reverie, left gasping for breath as I finally started reforming my ice armor. I was jarred out of my fatigue as I remembered something- oh shit, all those rounds that punched through my ice. Not even my armor underneath could have blocked all of them, and I took this small breather to check myself.

Not a scratch on me. That was... unnerving. I definitely took hits to my belly, but no, not a scratch. I felt an uncomfortable ache on my right flank, however, strange as that was...

Oh music! Hello a... again? Um, this was unnaturally perky. It still energized me and sent me swaying lightly and thumping a hoof to the catchy beat. I knew this one. Light drums with a hint of vocals...

Are you kidding me?! We No Speak Eqüestriano?! Okay, I'll admit, it's a fun tune, but fitting for this? Hell no! And it couldn't do much to block out the sounds of the gunfire and shouts as a whole either! Aw, what a mood-killer! This needed correction! I cantered around the rows of shelves and made for the turntables (Huh, what happened to all the bodies? Pfft, oh well. Music more important!). Beat Blaze was firing angry red beams of energy from his energy pistol, and he ducked down behind the counter as I vaulted over beside him.

“What the hay's up with the music?”

“What's de situation?”

I blinked at him, and I think he blinked back at me behind those blood-red glasses.

“Oh, right, situation!” I spoke quickly. “Uhhh, I think killed half of them? Now, can we change the music? To, you know, something more appropriate?”

He stared at me for a while. “I tink it's for de best!” he yelled over the cacophony of battle. “Ya look like ya need to cool off!”

“I'm a cryomancer!” I couldn't help but laugh. “You think I need to cool off?”

“Ya know what I mean!” He paused to pop up and fire a few more shots before ducking back down. “What, ya ain't gonna ask what's happened with de rest of us?” “

“Sorry, it's the music!” I apologized, breathing out slowly, my heart still hammering as I unlatched Midnight Talon, closed her up with an aerial, latched again, and pouched her away. Sublimating the unnecessary third arm, I asked, “So what's the situation?”

“Two of my folks are down, boy!” he answered, flipping out the side panel of his energy pistol to swap in a fresh spark pack. “Twilight Sparkle, Sentinel, was dat an autocannon I heard back dere?”

“It was,” I answered, taking a moment to make sure I was topped up on ammo. It was then that I realized how quickly I was running out of flechettes. Needed to be a little bit less crazy and a little more conservative. “Took care of it, though.”

“Not before it took out two of my folks down, boy!” he growled, nodding up. I got the message and we both popped up, scanning around and taking shots. Wait... he managed to kill two of them as he was trying to get at me? No, Frost, think about that later. We both took aim to the right and fired. Now that I was close enough, I could hear the strange, high-pitched, and completely out-of-place sounds the energy pistol made as it fired. My shot caught a griffin in the chest, knocking him back for a follow-up shot that brained him. Beat Blaze's caught one as he ducked down, punching a smoldering hold through his head. His second barely clipped another in the wing and caused his entire form to glow a bright red before disintegrating into a pile of ash.

Hey, I said he was an old coot. I didn't say he was a senile cripple.

“Having second thoughts?” I asked as we ducked back down to reload.

“Boy, I know I still owe ya, but hell if my folks don't feel the same way!” The fire-maned unicorn yelled back. “Glowstick and Woofer Wobble beat it already, no sé what happened to 'em! And dat's not countin' Stool Steward!”

“So were down to five?” I asked.

“Yeah, dammit!” Beat Blaze nodded up again, and we both popped up once more, firing a couple of shots. Not caring too much for the music at the moment, I felt a wash of cool focus sharpening my aim as time drew to that familiar crawl. I was able to nail three of them to my friend's lone kill. Time snapped back and we ducked back down. “Showoff!”

“Incoming!” I perked my ears up with Rig's sudden shout as she clambered over the left turntables and scrambled to us. “Jeez, Frost, remind me to turn on the radio next time we're in a fight! You're insane!”

“Was that a compliment?” I blinked.

“Sure, let's go with that!” the armored mare replied voice oddly echoing behind that welder's helmet, levitating up Luna's Fortitude and quickly reloading thanks to the triple magazine. “Managed to get a few myself, though!”

“So... why are you over here?”

“Shit, forgot!” she cursed, popping over the counter. “Heavy incoming!”

Both Beat Blaze and I rose to see a Heavy lumbering around the front set of shelves, firing into a string of tables near the bar area where two of the nightclub workers were taking cover. They didn't stand a chance- they and their pitiful barricade were blown to bloody pieces. It turned towards us, Ripper swiveling towards the turntables.

Beat Blaze and I took aim and fired.

“Not the turntables, bitch!”
“Not de turntables, puta!”

Of course our fire was ineffective. So of course Rig decided to fire a grenade at the Heavy. With a muffled crack, the mounted BS-03 sent a HE grenade right into the juggernaut's face, the explosion actually setting fire to some of the nearby tables and sending debris flying and clanging everywhere. I actually ducked down beneath the counter, not expecting her to use such a weapon here.

“Did we get him?” Rig asked.

“Ya hit de guy in de face!” Beat Blaze exclaimed, laughing. “Of course, ya got him!”

“Please warn us,” I grumbled as I got back up, “namely me, before you do that again.”

The young mare winced. “Sorry...”

“Ease up, Sentinel, boy!” Beat Blaze smacked me on the shoulder. “She just saved de music!”

I sighed, then raised an eyebrow. “Has anypony noticed we haven't been shot yet?”

“That's partly due to the threat being neutralized.” I jumped in surprise, and soon the ebony griffin behind us found Luna's Judgment, an energy pistol, and Luna's Fortitude aimed at her (in that order). After seeing who it was, we all sighed in relief and pulled our weapons away. She certainly looked like she'd had her fair share of work tonight, her cloak spattered in red and Harbinger's barrel smoking before she kicked in the reload cycle.

“Don't... don't do that!” I scowled. “How do you keep sneaking up on me like that?”

Azrael simply pointed at the turntables. Oh, right. We were in a nightclub. By the way, I was really trying to restrain myself as the track switched to Naked Soul.

“So, we all clear?” Grapevine shouted from the bar. Judging from the casings littering the floor around her, she really had used up all the 7.62 NETO in Vealville!

“Looks like it,” Rig sighed in relief.

“Strange...” Azrael murmured. “The plainclothes sent out a signal for the Hunter unit. Where are-”

A sudden, shimmering distortion among the neon beams beside Azrael caught my attention, and I let the sudden rush of adrenaline it brought flow freely, time slowing down for me once more. That shimmer looked vaguely- scratch that- very equine in shape. And what looked like an arm was raised and looked primed to strike.

As if on cue, I thought to myself.

I reacted as if on autopilot. No hesitation. I sent a spray of flechettes toward the center-of-mass of the shimmer. Just as I expected, my instincts taking over like that.

What I didn't expect was a similar shimmer fluttering in the edge of my peripheral vision.

My focus snapped and everything whipped back up to speed- just in time for me to turn away. My ice armor crunched and something slammed hard into my helm, knocking me down to the floor. I only caught a glimpse of the thing I fired at as it warped into view, but that glimpse sufficed for my photographic memory to take a snapshot. A griffin, but... off. No wings. Powerful, digitigrade hindlegs that allowed it to stand up by their strength alone. A long, segmented tail with a wicked sickle-shaped blade. A beak with myriad holes drilled into it, as if for a speaker.

Eyes.

That was what made my frenzied heart skip a beat. The eyes were all wrong. They were perfectly round. There were no whites, no pupils, no colored irises. They were a single tone of yellow with an outer disk of a darker shade. Like a floodlight, I thought.

No, I realized. Like a photoreceptor.

A mechanical photoreceptor.

And then the rest of the features made sense. There were no feathers or fur. Just armor. Armor plating, smooth armor plating with narrow seams. Two arms, ending in fingers cruder than my own. One was equipped with a meter-long triple claw gauntlet. The other, a weapon of some sort with an ammunition belt snaking tightly along the arm to the back. A weapon with a set of three, long, thin barrels.

And then it warped back into nothingness and the others ducked to the floor as I fell with a clatter and a growl. The sound of shearing metal filled my ears as I shouted, “Hunters!”

“Where?!” Azrael shouted, all of us whipping to our feet.

I looked around, the shimmers lost to the bars of light. “Blaze, kill the lights and music!”

“On it, on it!” he shouted, horn glowing darkly as he brought the dance lights and speakers offline and the main lights online, the area bathed once more in a sterile white. My ears were ringing after such abuse and everything was suddenly eerily silent.

“Frost, what are you talking about?” Azrael hissed as we scanned the building for any sign of hostiles. “What was that?”

My eyes locked onto Grapevine, or what was left of her. Her body was slumped against the counter. Her head had been sliced cleanly off and was leaking blood that took on a ghastly hue in the powerful overhead lights.

“Frost!” Azrael called out again.

“They're machines!” I snarled. “They're machines, dammit! The Hunters are fucking machines!

I saw something new in those eyes for the second time. An emotion that soon spread from her to me.

Fear.

“They know,” she whispered.

“Or they could have gotten lucky,” I spoke, hoping that was the case. “Rig, see anything on the E.F.S.?”

“Nothing!” Rig croaked. She was starting to get scared too. “Twilight Sparkle, Azrael, they've got heavy weaponry, they've got power armor, and now they've got machines that can go invisible to the naked eye and E.F.S.? What else do the Dead Boys have, huh?”

“What makes you think I know everything about them?” the griffin snapped at her.

“Because you used to-”

“Keep it down, eyes and ears open,” I whispered sharply. “Save it for later. Now, if you even think you see a shimmer or hear something else, you shoot! Stick close!” We appropriately backed up together. Rig flipped up her welder's helmet.

“Lightshow, Crank, aquí, ¡ahora!” Beat Blaze shouted, but shouted quietly. The two nightclub bouncers, still crouched under a makeshift barricade of tables, hurriedly made their way over to the turntables.

And then they dropped dead, heads riddled with holes.

Ho...ly... shit. Those Hunters had silenced weaponry!

Folks, I'm a gun enthusiast. I'm not talking suppressed weaponry here! I'm talking damn straight silenced! I only heard the sound of casings clanking to the floor in all of that! We all fired in their general directions, but we hit nothing!

I have to admit- I was more scared at that moment than I had been in a very, very long time. Beat Blaze was muttering curses under his breath, his glasses had slipped down just enough for me to see his eyes. They were pained.

“Fuck them,” he murmured. “Fuck dose Dead Boys...”

Screw it. As dependable as Luna's Judgment was, it wasn't as spray-friendly as Night Fang. I was just starting to pull her out when the horrendous screech of metal grinding on metal filled our ears. Steeling my nerves, I finished reloading and immediately fired at the source.

Nothing.

“Storeroom,” Beat Blaze whispered. “Head to the storeroom.”

“We'll get shot up!” Rig hissed.

“But den dey can only come at us through de door,” he reasoned.

Dammit, he was right. And who dares wins.

“How are your mags?” I whispered.

“Pues...”
“Um...”
“Partially emptied.”

“Reload, one at a time,” I spoke clearly and carefully. “All applicable weapons. Rig, you're up first- make sure you have a full triple mag. Then me, then you,” I turned to Beat Blaze, “then you.” Azrael. “Go!”

The earth-coated mare started teleporting out magazines, checking if they were completely full while the rest of us kept watch. It was a tense few seconds that seemed to drag on forever as my eyes and ears darted all over. Come on, Rig, come on!

“Loaded!” she whispered.

Now it was my turn, slotting a fresh drum into Luna's Judgment while simultaneously changing mags on Night Fang. Thank the Goddesses I learned how to use multiple ice arms without straining myself! Night Fang was at the ready as I checked the load on my shotgun. Only six shells. Cursing, I started slotting in single flechette shells from my saddlebags in pairs to speed up the process. One, two... three, four... five, six... seven... seven. Seven. I only had a grand total of thirteen flechette shells left in this drum and the other was partially emptied as well. Fuck!

“Loaded,” I uttered.

“Recargando,” Beat Blaze murmured, taking his turn as the rest of us kept watch. Why weren't they attacking? Were they toying with us? The fire-maned unicorn nodded to Azrael. “¡Vése usted, ahora!”

She was already reloading, and now for those tense ten, flat seconds.

One.

Eyes on the bar. Nothing moving.

Two.

Eyes forward, near the cash registers and first string of shelves. Nothing.

Three.

Eyes to the right. Nothing I could see.

Four.

Destroyed barricade. A rolling glass bottle, painfully loud in the silence.

Five.

Sprayed toward it, saturating the general area with .45 ACP. Nothing!

Six.

Speed-loaded a fresh mag in, eyes darting everywhere.

Seven.

Those inequine eyes staring at me, a barely shimmering head peeking around a shelf like a ghost. My heart skipped a beat.

Eight.

I fired wildly with Night Fang, trying to expose the machine. It ducked back, a single bullet out of the spray meeting its mark.

Nine.

Rig teleported out a grenade and sent it sailing, leaving the pin behind. I wish she'd cooked it...

Ten.

A light clang of metal, that grenade came sailing back for us! Now I really wish she'd cooked it!

“Grenade!” I shouted, all of us save Rig scrambling away. I snatched a glance back at the mare as her horn flared gray again. The metallic apple winked out and reappeared on the far end of the store, continuing on its path and exploding harmlessly.

Choice words. It did enough harm by splitting us up.

“Storeroom, go, go go!” I yelled, feeling bullets clang off of my ice armor as I dropped into a low gallop. I was about to thank the Goddesses for it when-

<====ooo*bla[43f19d]me*OOO*23jfg0$#2cv*ooo====>

-I saw a bullet streak for my eyes, glancing and rolling off of my sloped armor past me. I was ignoring it, raising my weapon before I heard a fleshy impact behind me.

<====ooo*(!)vv2431effwnnF*OOO*<Gizmo>ifv16*ooo====>

No, I thought as I heard something clatter to the ground. No no no. Not again. I snapped my gaze behind me.

Again.

No... not again...

Beat Blaze was standing erect, standing still, his energy pistol dropped. The left lens of his glasses was shattered. The eye behind it was a black hole, blood slowly looking out. He wobbled unsteadily before collapsing to the floor.

No!” I roared, screeching to a halt. “Blaze!”

“Frost, stop!” Azrael yelled. “Keep going, he's already gone!”

And then a screech of a different sort, a horrendous, grating screech. I snapped my head back to find the shadowy form of a Hunter sprinting for me, swiping its claw gauntlet. I tried to focus, tried to slow down time long enough for me to react, but the rush of unbidden memories brought with it a torrent of emotions that broke my concentration. I could only turn my head away as the claw connected cleanly, cracking through my ice but catching against my armor underneath. The force still bowled me over and sent me crashing to the floor. I roared and sprayed up at the machine with Night Fang, only succeeding in creating a series of small dents in its flickering form as it dashed away to hide. I formed another arm, priming an ice javelin and getting to my feet before another Hunter dropped down on me hard, knocking the wind from me and sending me back down before I could draw a bead. The second Hunter fled like its counterpart, but judging from the pained, grinding screech that coincided with the roar of Harbinger, Azrael nailed it.

I slowly pushed myself up to my feet, looking at the sparking form of the neutralized Hunter and to the body of Beat Blaze. Even as I let the coolness of my reforming ice armor give me clarity, I couldn't help but get washed up in the tide of emotions...

<====ooo*h[347]ate*OOO*4nGu15H*ooo====>

He was a young stallion. His coat was a shade of blue that could only be described as amiable, his mane standing up like a charring fire that matched the one behind his eyes. Dressed in only torn-up barding, his horn glowed dark, still aiming his rifle at me.

Easy... easy...” I cautioned him. “Look, if I wanted to kill you, I'd have done it sooner. I'm here to help.”

Right words, right way. He lowered his weapon and sighed in relief, motioning behind him-

*||*||*

No me gusta esta gente,” he muttered. We were seated in the middle of that classy restaurant amidst all the empty, hollow, superficial ponies. I felt guilty eating here, and I think he felt the same way. “No me gusta como la estación de radiodifusión tuvo que estar aquí de todos lugares.”

Igualmente,” I sighed in reply, shifting slightly in my seat. Our words were drawing odd looks from those seated at the tables around us, “pero lo es un precio pequeño pagar para La Buena Guerra. ¿Sale vale?”

Beat Blaze let out a soft sigh, smiling. “Sale vale. Alright, I think we can cut la linga. Let's get dis done before-”

*||*||*

Ahhh, Sentinel, boy!” Beat Blaze laughed as we clasped hooves and we smiled like old chumps. Old... he really did look older. So much older... but that fire still burned bright behind those eyes as he lowered those glasses. “¿Otra negocios?”

As usual,” I answered, and away we went to the storeroom, the thumping tunes and blaring beats following us as he waved a replacement to the turntables.

So,” he turned around, magically closing the door behind us, “what is it dis time, eh?”

Hunting again,” I answered. “I've got a hard target. Sewn Britches. Heard of him?”

Again with de hunting, boy...” He shook his head sadly. “Yeah, we've been through dis talk already, ya know? Ya know. Ya don't wanna hear it again, I know dat look. Hey, I never heard of him, never seen him.” He nodded back at the maneframe behind him. “But I know where to start lookin'.”

I nodded plaintively, unable to help but glance away as he went to the terminal...

<====ooo*1#4214sFwdiv{inity}eunder*OOO*b<equeath>eneaththegreen*ooo====>

Sorrow boiled away, leaving only rage behind as I let out another horrible roar. I was going to wipe out those fucking Dead Boys, and I was going to fucking enjoy it! And I was going to start with that last Hunter. I didn't care if it was a machine and that I couldn't revel in its pain. It didn't care if it didn't even have a life for me to take! But if I could stomp the hell out of its plating, then by Goddesses I would do it and I would enjoy it!

That shadowy bastard crept around the side of the bar with a greasy creak. My ice javelin nearly took its head off, and it raced fast out of the way as Rig and Azrael sent a grenade and shock rounds after it. Fuck, I hated how fast those things were! Its stealth field deteriorated as it ran, but it was already behind the shelves, out of sight, and out of our line of fire. Azrael fired blindly (I paused to think how cruelly fitting that was) for a few more seconds, but it seemed she hit nothing.

“Frost...” I could hear Azrael start speaking.

“Get. To. The storeroom.” My voice was a bit shaky.

“Frost, we-”

Get to the storeroom!” I snarled at her.

Rig was wide-eyed, looking at me and still panting softly. Azrael stood her ground but slowly nodded. The griffin tapped Rig once on the shoulder to get her attention, and they cautiously but quickly made their way to the back. Once they were safely inside, I turned to more pressing matters- that last Hunter.

“Frost.” She was at my side once more. “Please, calm yourself.”

“Love, this isn't a good time,” I spoke as calmly as I could.

“No, it is the best time,” She spoke, firmer now, scathing even. “Remember the last time things got personal? Remember the last time you let your anger consume you? It's only been little over a day, love!”

“But he was my friend!” I growled, all sense of subtlety lost. I lurched Night Fang up as a bottle crashed to the ground. I hosed the area down, teeth gritted. Nothing. “Dammit!”

“I know,” She said, keeping firm. “But think rationally for a moment. The Hunters kill intelligently. They aren't mindless machinations. They're creative.”

A record scratched on the turntable, and I raised Night Fang to fire again only to find Her hoof pressing down on the weapon. I scowled at Her for a moment only to realize I had almost destroyed my friend's most cherished possession.

I also realized that I was hearing a distant casing hitting the ground.

My eyes shot wide-open and my rage slowly ebbed away. Cold clarity took its place. All that time they've just been shooting the objects to confuse us...

“That Hunter's smart,” She breathed easy and smiled now that I relaxed. “You- we need to outsmart it.”

I slowly turned my lips up into a light smile. for a moment before nodding, eyes forward. She was at my side now as we headed down the aisles... past his body... and toward the opposite end of the store.

A Dash inhaler clattered to the floor. I perked my ears up, as did She. A distant ping rose above the eerie silence off toward the cash registers. She pointed that way, and I nodded in agreement.

And I still had ice muscles.

I leaped high into the air, sailing toward the cash registers and landing with an impact sufficient enough to shatter the tiled flooring underneath my hooves. I glanced toward the right, where we both heard the sound.

“Any ideas?” She asked.

“Always,” I answered.

I inhaled deeply and exhaled sharply, a cloud of chilling mist bursting from my body. It settled around the area, coating everything in a thin layer of moisture. And sure enough, it settled around a crouched, vaguely griffin-like shape slowly making its way toward me.

Poor bastard never saw it coming.

The mist deposited on the machine as it tried to flee, icing it down into place as it struggled to get away. I winced as it let out that ear-splitting screech while I kept it tugged down with ice tendrils formed out of the floor, binding its limbs. It trained its unnatural gaze upon me as I neared.

She gasped, “Wait! Mind the-”

Gah!

“-aah, tail!”

The Hunter had lashed out with its whip-like tail, the sickle at the end striking me in the face with enough force to punch through the ice and slice me. I promptly formed an ice tendril from the mist that snaked around the appendage and pulled it down.

“Sorry,” She apologized meekly, hissing from the gash on her cheek that mirrored my own.

“Tails... always gotta mind the tails,” I murmured. Slugging down a healing potion to mend our wound (I idly wondered how the hell it had been the only one I'd consumed tonight), I reloaded Night Fang and pointed Luna's Judgment at the thing's head.

No, I only had so many flechette shells left. Save them for another encounter. I slung my weapons away and brought out Midnight Talon.

“Can I enjoy this?” I asked Her. “Please?”

“Oh, I don't see the harm...” She murmured. “Go ahead.”

I sighed, smiling as I raised the blade up, popping her open with a helix (Love that move).

And the Hunter beeped.

Hm?

It beeped again. Again. Againagainagain-

Oh shit!

I kicked backwards, clearing the area as fast as possible as the Hunter exploded! It freaking exploded! Not a big explosion, thankfully, but I was really glad I had my ice muscles still on!

Landing in a floor-shattering crunch once more, I shouted, “Are you alright?!”

“I'm fine, don't worry,” She spoke calmly, walking through the smoke. “See?”

I sighed in relief, grumbling as She trotted to my side, “Pardon my Prench, but Lady Luck's a griffin. And she's been giving me the finger. Again, and again, and again.”

“You're pardoned.” She smiled lightly. “Well, that's that. All of them, right?”

The storeroom door swung open and slammed closed in a flash, causing us both to snap our heads to it.

“Oh hell no!” I growled, making a break for it as shouts and gunfire sounded off.

I was almost to the door when Azrael burst through it, knocking it off of its (supposedly reinforced!) hinges and barreling past me.

“Run!” the griffin shouted, and though I was a bit shocked by Her sudden disappearance once more, I turned back to see what was the matter. I saw Rig lying dazed on the floor... and a third Hunter pressed against the maneframe, beeping rapidly!

“Rig, move!” I yelled, diving away from the doorway and scrambling as far as I could.

She hustled to her feet, cursing “Shit, shit, shi-!”

The explosion was much more enormous than the first Hunter's, fueled by the maneframe. I shielded my face as the blast wave sent me sprawling and rolling across the floor in a daze. My ears were ringing as I pushed myself up and checked myself. I was still in once piece and my ice armor hadn't been compromised. But sweet Twilight the room's walls had been blown open! Dust choked the lights overhead, leaving every thing in tones of sepia.

“Rig!” I yelled. “Azrael!”

“I'm,” the griffin paused to cough several times as she approached me, covered in silt and debris with her cloak riddled with holes, “I'm alright!”

“Rig?” I turned in the direction of the settling smoke cloud, seeing the hazy outline of... a crumpled, equine form.

Oh no, please no.

I raced for her along with Azrael as she flopped onto her back with a pained groan. She was alive, please let her be okay, please let her be...

She was missing a leg.

She was missing a leg!

She was missing her Goddessdamn right foreleg!

“No...” I sat down hard, gripping the sides of my head. “No no no no!” I bolted up, finding it amidst the broken plaster and glass. I snatched it up in a fresh ice arm and rushed to her as she squinted and gritted her teeth. The dust that hung in the air made her indigo eyes look so, so dull. “Rig, stay with me, talk to me! Talk to me!” I slapped her cheek lightly with my hoof. “Talk to me!

“F-Frost...?” she sputtered, starting to look down.

“No, no, no no, don't look, don't look,” I told her. I needed to keep her from going into shock, needed to keep her talking. “Keep talking to me, Rig. Just keep talking to me.” I dug into my saddlebags, searching for a super restoration potion. If we administered one quick enough and reattached the limb, we could save it. Come on... ammo, food, healing potions...

Nothing. I only had basic healing potions.

“Frost...” Rig looked at me with a sad, dejected look.

“Dammit, just keep talking to me!” I panted, heart hammering away, turning away up to the griffin. “Azrael, we need a super restoration potion now!”

“I don't have any,” she spoke calmly (Why?!). “We don't need any right now.”

“Idiot!” I snarled at her. “Of course we need one right now!” I turned back to Rig for a moment. “Come on, keep talking to me!” I snapped back to the griffin. “Fuck if we don't need one! Run to the general store and get one!”

“Frost,” Azrael repeated slowly, deliberately, “we don't need any right now.”

I was mystified, stupefied by her insistence. I was about to retort again when-

“Frost,” Rig spoke softly, her hoof tapping at my shoulder. “It's okay.” I looked back down at her. She looked shamed. Why? “It's... okay.”

I looked at the stump where her leg tore away and to the limb I clutched in my hand. An overwhelming, dreadful cold seized me and I dropped it, scrambling away, my panting and heartbeat erratic.

From her leg and the stump was no blood. No bone.

Just gears.

* * *

Footnote: Frost- Maximum Level

Rig- Level up! Level 6 Reached!
TRAIT REVEALED: Advanced Cyber- You are more machine than equine, yet neither twisted nor evil (unless you're just that type of pony). You have a 35% bonus to damage resistance (up to a maximum of 85%), damage threshold, and poison resistance in areas replaced with cybernetics. Your robotic limbs also grant you a +1 to Strength and a +10 bonus to Unarmed. However, you are more susceptible to EMP and shock weaponry and have a 75% chance of becoming nearly immobilized by such weapons. You also have a -1 penalty to Charisma and a -10 penalty to Barter and Speech skills. You also take 30% more damage in areas still organic due to their increased sensitivity.

Azrael- Maximum Level

Unlockables added: Soundtrack- Yellow Line
Soundtrack- We No Speak Eqüestriano by Yolandalusian Be Cool and Buttercup
Soundtrack- Naked Soul
Soundtrack- Hunter Unit

Author's Note:

My thanks go to Kkat, Somber, Mimezinga, and all the wonderful ponies of the FoE Sidestory Proto Doc and forums. A special thank you to ErrantIndy for looking over this for me. I promise you a little something later on. Lastly, thank you for reading. Critique is always appreciated.

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