• Published 17th Nov 2011
  • 6,297 Views, 935 Comments

Fallout: Equestria- The Last Sentinel - Adder1



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

  • ...
38
 935
 6,297

PreviousChapters Next
Reflection Five: Burning Bridges

Reflection Five: Burning Bridges

Stretch out your hoof toward the sky so that darkness will spread... darkness that can be felt.”

My name was given to me to remind all Northerners where we came from and- more importantly- what we endured. I was meant to be a living symbol of hope. What I did with the Mumei and what happened afterward dashed all that. I was stripped of my ownership of the most popular juvie-joint in Manehattan and stripped of my position of power. My own people betrayed me and left me to die. I was, for lack of a better term, dishonored.

I can appreciate the Razorwings and their decision to leave The Dead Boys. I built an empire on the backs of others. I cheated, misled, and intimidated in order to achieve that dream. And I worked so hard for it. But being in that dumpster, almost dying... made me realize I crossed the line. Everything was empty, unclean. All that wealth I made... dirty, all of it. I came out of that experience a new stallion.

But before I could do anything else, I couldn't let what I created run rampant. The Mumei was a wild beast. It could be tamed- I was the tamer- but it had since changed masters. Perhaps it was... with a sense of bitterness and fury that I did what did. Maybe it was the notion of making sure that if I couldn't have the Mumei, nobody could.

Mostly, it was because the Mumei was my legacy. It would be what people remembered me by. And as the symbol of hope and memory for those of the Far North, I couldn't allow the Mumei to have that notoriety.

They say it's far easier to destroy than to create. And I can safely say that it's all too true and all too easy.

* * *

“Ten days?” Zoleks asked, astonished.

“Ten days,” I answered hoarsely with a nod. My neck was still sore and achy.

“Uh, you do know that you're stuck here for at least a week, right?”

“Well. I do now.” I tried to muster a chuckle, but it just came out as a string of weak breaths.

“So how are you going to do it, Hokkaido?”

“What time is it?”

“Three P.M.”

“Plenty of time. To think, that is.” I exhaled softly through my nostrils. “Zoleks, do you know anyone who's still on my side?”

“Well... there's me.” He paused. “I'm not inspiring any confidence, are I?”

“More than you think.” I smiled thinly. “But is there anyone? Anyone else? In the Mumei, I mean.”

“I... I honestly have no idea,” Zoleks sighed. “I don't know who I can trust in there.”

“Makes things a bit more difficult. At least I won't feel sorry destroying it.”

“You sure you know what you're doing?” he asked.

“I have some... ideas.”

“That creative, huh?” he huffed.

“That's me. Now... are my parents still here?”

“Yeah.”

I exhaled through my nostrils. “Please send them in. It's later.”

I heard the light clip-clop of hooves as he left, followed by the opening and shutting of the door. In the meantime, I tried to open my eyes- slowly at first... slowly. The room was swimming with colors, dazing me as afterimage after afterimage burned into my pupils. I groaned softly, and the regular beeping of the electrocardiogram sped up a little- nothing worrisome enough to cause any attention, though. I gritted my teeth and pulled back my lips, groaning softly from the burning at the back of my eyes. Eventually, they stopped tingling and I was able to breathe a little easier as I glanced about the room without any problem. It was the average hospital suite with the average cheery wallpaper with the average cheery nightstand and lamp and the average television set. Very average. But it was the first thing I'd seen since... I blacked out with Zoleks carrying me here. And nothing three days before that. Never have I been more grateful to be in the hospital.

And then I looked at the IV needle stuck in my foreleg, leading up to a pack of... stuff. Now that I looked at the needle itself, I realized something. It fucking hurt! At least it wasn't a sharp pain or anything- it was just a dull one. Not even any throbbing. But looking at it just made it hurt more, and I muttered to myself in pain as I looked away.

The door opened again, and I turned to see father and mother enter the room. They hung on the side of the bed beside one another. Both of them looked so much older- mother especially. So much older... We were all quiet, avoiding one another's glances. My heart was beating a little quicker now.

Finally I looked straight at them and waited until they stopped looking about. “I'm deeply sorry. For all of this. I should have known better. I kept all of this from both of you. And I flat-out lied at times.” I let out a soft sigh. “I have no excuse.”

“If you are sorry, then you would not have done it,” mother snapped. Then her tone softened, “But you are alive. We are grateful for that.”

Father nodded solemnly. “Yes. We are... most grateful you are alive. But do not confuse, Hokkaido. We are very, very disappointed in you.”

I swallowed hard. I might have been more or less independent at that age, but I still felt that blow straight to my heart. It was when father didn't say anything that he was angry. For him to make abundantly clear... I only nodded shallowly, quickly with my ears tucked back.

“You will continue to live under our roof, but we are no longer responsible for you,” father continued. “Do as you must. It matters not to us anymore.”

I turned my gaze downward and nodded.

The distinguished white stallion sighed softly, “Just... no more trouble, Hokkaido.”

I looked him in the eye. No more lies... no more. I felt a greater weight upon my heart as I whispered, “I can't guarantee that.”

Father just closed his eyes and limped his way out with mother following behind him. “At least he was truthful...” she said. I don't know whether it was to spite me or comfort him.

I'm not sure if you can fully grasp the situation. I was permitted to live in the same household, but they denied all further responsibility for me. To cast a child from his or her own home was not the Northerner way. Still... I don't know how many of you know the meaning behind this, but they essentially disowned me. And it was all my fault. That memory will forever stay with me. And the funny thing? I would lie later. A lot. You know that already. It wasn't lying that was the problem- it was getting caught lying and then being forced to tell the truth. They say that telling the truth sets you free, but does it really? I never... ever wanted to be in that situation again.

Zoleks came in and sat down beside my bed. He was reading my expression. “Bad?”

I nodded, staring off past him. “Bad.”

He nodded in turn, resting a hoof on my shoulder. “You know I'll always be here for you. I'll stick around until you're out. My parents don't mind. 'Sides, I wouldn't put it above Pick to send someone to finish the job.”

I shook my head. “He wouldn't do that. Too high profile. It would make him more enemies. Definitely get him sent straight to prison.”

“Hokkaido,” Zoleks called, deadpanning.

“Yes?”

“You're thinking about what you would do in his position.”

“Dammit,” I sighed, leaning back against the pillow. “You're right.” I looked at him. “Since when did you get so sharp?”

He shrugged. “Always have been. Duh.”

“Heh... hey listen. Do you mind. If I borrow your phone again. Please?”

“What did you have in mind?” Zoleks inquired. “Police? Getting a lawyer?”

“No,” I answered with a shake of my head. “There's no evidence. No trail. The legal system wouldn't be with me on this. Not yet at least. The Mumei has money. Money is power. Power that can be sold. And let's not forget that power corrupts. Pick can and will find better lawyers. That is a battle I am not willing to fight. Nor a battle I will win.”

“So what then?”

“I'm going to see who's still on my side.”

* * *

I was on the news that night. It wasn't the kind of publicity I wanted, but it was the kind I needed. I was the most serious case of gang violence in the history of Manehattan- possibly Equestria- and that cast a shadow of doubt and mistrust over the public outlook of Mumei. It had already been stained by me, bringing it down to the level of the other gangs by waging war with the Cruds. It didn't help Pick Pack that he publicly announced himself as the leader of the Mumei right after he tried to oust me. Now that hatred and skepticism could be focused onto a single target- him. And I didn't even have to lift a hoof to do that.

I might not have liked that the nurses and orderlies had to keep the press out of my suite, but that was the best news I'd heard in a long time.

But nevertheless, I made a promise to Pick. It was a promise I wanted to uphold.

* * *

Day one.

“Seriously? You replaced all of our drinks and dispensers? With ketchup? Seriously?”

“Me? You know where I am, right?”

“In the fucking... hospital.”

“And you know who I am, right?”

“An annoying prick. Cost us a good night of revenue.”

“And a blank-flank-flunk. That should tell you something.”

“And a cocky son of a bitch.”

“Look who's talking.”

“Hey-”

“My point stands. I'm in the hospital. I'll be here for a whole week at least. I'm nowhere near your nightclubs. And I have no magic.”

“You got someone else to do it.”

“I'm no longer with the Mumei. You saw to that. Had to be... someone from the inside. Right?”

“Who?”

“You'll have to find out. And Pick?”

“What?”

“I'm not usually one for old punchlines, but this is too good to pass up.”

“The hell are you talking about?”

I hung up and let the ending tone ring.

* * *

“Thank you very much, Zoleks.” I bowed as much as I could in my position. “It's comforting to know you still have... some ties to zebras around here.”

“Heh... no problem, boss.” He smiled, elbowing me lightly.

“Told you not to call me that anymore.”

“Oh. Duh. Sorry.”

“It's fine. Just a shame that nobody else can perform alchemy like zebras can...”

* * *

Day two.

“Unbelievable. Frogs. You actually released frogs into the nightclubs. You're a real annoying prick, you know that?”

“I'm still stuck in the hospital. How could I have done it?”

“You know what I mean, Hokkaido. You got someone to do it. Now talk. Or else.”

“You're trying to threaten me over the phone. Do you realize how stupid you are?”

“You-”

“And do you realize how bad this is making you look? I almost wasted away, and I'm still in the hospital.”

“Fuck, that doesn't matter. You're trying to tear me down through someone else. Right now, you're only being an annoying prick. So talk. Who is it?”

“If this is how you treat your superior- former or not- then I can't imagine how you treat your followers. Tell me, Pick- did you really think you could try to take me out and take over the Mumei all of a sudden and expect everyone to love you and do as you say?”

“...”

“Do you know for sure who's really yours? Or mine?”

“...”

“Does it scare you, Pick? Knowing just how alone you really are?”

“That's it. You tell me now, or I go after your parents.”

“And so you go from threatening a cripple in a hospital to threatening to go after his parents. You'd only shorten your own lifespan pulling that kind of a stunt. You already pushed the boundaries by trying to kill me. Do you want to see where the breaking point lies?”

“How about we see where yours is?”

“Do I need to repeat myself? You left me in a dumpster to waste away. Given I've managed to live through that and that I'm still speaking in a civilized manner, I think I can safely say mine is much, much further than yours. So you see, you're in no position to test me. You'll only make it worse for yourself. I, however, am in such a position. Consider that before you even think about going after my parents. Because you can't win.”

I hung up and let that ending tone ring.

* * *

“Frogs,” Zoleks stated.

“Toads, actually.” I paused to eat my biscuit. It was nice to eat nice, warm, solid food again.

“Really?”

“Yes, really. Just a toad or seven at a club or juvie-joint hopping about, and it scares the bejeezus out of everyone. Imagine that.”

“But... where did you get all those frogs... uh, toads then?”

I shrugged. “I don't know. Just called Carl Dandelion and he said he knew an animal caretaker in Ponyville who could help. She probably doesn't know what we're using them for, but...”

“But... why toads?” Zoleks scratched his head.

“Why turn the drinks into ketchup?” I countered. “Because nobody sees it coming.”

“You know, we might have to take you to a psych eval. You might have had some oxygen deprivation there...”

“Hey, it's not like I have any evident brain damageageageageageageageageageage-”

“Hokkaido!” Zoleks laughed outright. “Stop that!”

It was good to laugh with him again, even if it made my lungs burn.

* * *

Day three.

“Fuck you.”

He hung up that time.

* * *

“What was it that time?” Zoleks inquired.

I took a bite out of my buttery biscuit. Mm-mm-mm, biscuits! “Ticks.”

He arced an eyebrow. “Ticks?”

I nodded. “Ticks.”

“Ticks. Glad I'm on your side.”

* * *

Day four.

“Goats. Really, Hokkaido? Goats? Wild animals?”

“I'm as mystified as you are, Pick.”

“Oh buck your flank to Kansass, you prick. I'm fucking serious now. I'm done playing games.”

“You want serious? Fine then. I'm done playing too. You're almost halfway through, Pick. Best cut it and run now before something really bad happens.”

“Well what's it gonna be? Sheep? Cows? Fucking moose?”

“None of that. Pick, I'm giving you the opportunity to save face. You disband the Mumei, nothing more will happen to you, the gang members, or the patrons. You get to keep your money, and you get to live comfortably. You've seen what I can do these past six years. You know what I can accomplish. So just make it easier for yourself. Quit while you're ahead.”

“You've just been an annoying prick-”

“Which you've called me for the fourth time.”

“-so far. Face it- you can't do shit to us but cost us a bit of money. The Mumei is mine. I worked hard for it, and I played it for keeps.”

“Just one problem, Pick. I worked harder.”

I hung up and let the ending tone ring.

* * *

“Thanks for the biscuits, Miss Manner,” I said with a smile to the nurse. “If it's not too much trouble, would you please get some for my friend as well? Just put it on my tab.”

“Sure thing!” The soft-blue mare smiled in turn and headed back out. Smile, and the world smiles with you. This time, there was no superficiality to it either.

“Hey Zoleks?”

“Yeah, Hokkaido?” He turned to me.

“I'm going to need a good alchemist. A very good one.”

* * *

Day five.

“What... the fuck did you do?!”

“You know, I'm very, very pleased you call me like this everyday. It's good to know somepony cares. Not even my parents do this for me. My parents who, by the way, you were threatening earlier.”

“Shove it up your ass, Hokkaido! What. Did. You. Do?!”

“Me? Well... I didn't do anything. I'm still stuck in this suite. The sky-blue wallpaper gets a little... boring after a while.”

“Enough of the damn lies, Hokkaido!”

“Really, I didn't do anything. Frankly, I'm surprised you're calling me at all.”

“Bullshit!”

“Hey, now. Don't get mad at me. What's the problem? Tell me.”

“The problem is that you poisoned the fucking drinks! Now all but thirty-two of the nightclubs were shut down by Public Health!”

“Thirty-two?”

“All but fucking thirty-two!”

“Hm. That's... wow. That's horrible. Any... I'm appalled to ask this, but how serious is it?”

“Just made them sick, but you still got us shut down, you bitch!”

“That's comforting at least. Nothing too serious. Also, that and last time I recalled, we owned all but six clubs in Manehattan. That could be a bit of a problem, too.”

“Drop the act, you prick, or I'll sic the law on you!”

“Do you have any evidence?”

“Heh... these calls.”

“These calls?”

“Yep! Been wiretapped the whooooole time!”

“Really now? Commissioner Farrow, please get on the line.”

Click.

“Farrow here.”

“Helllllllo, Commissioner Farrow! So, do we have enough to bust this Hokkaido kid or what?”

“Don't think so.”

Click.

“Wh... What?”

“Ooh. Bummer.”

What?!”

“You know, Pick, you really ought to make certain who's really on your side. I didn't have anything- anything at all- to do with this little problem of yours. Now... my gang that you quote-unquote got to back you up and your so-called 'allies' on the other hoof...”

“...”

“Again, you really ought to make certain who's really on your side.”

I hung up and let the ending tone ring.

* * *

“You know, maybe you're fine, Hokkaido,” Zoleks huffed. “That sounded pretty damn close to the old you.”

“Of course,” I said, looking at him and smiling thinly. “That's the Hokkaido he's most afraid of.” I looked down at my platter and back up. “Biscuit?”

* * *

Day six.

* * *

“Huh.” Zoleks blinked, munching on a biscuit. “Dinnertime and still no call yet. What happened?”

I shrugged. “No idea.”

“You sure?”

I only smiled.

He smiled right back, knowingly.

* * *

Day seven.

“Today's been quiet. What are you scheming?”

“Nothing. By the way, I heard that a few neighborhoods were the recipients of some misplaced itching powder on the news. I didn't hear anything from you yesterday, so... are you alright?”

“Yeah. Now.”

“That's good to hear. So what's up?”

“I want to know what the hell you're doing.”

“Absolutely nothing. I am getting out tomorrow, though. And finally. A shame that the storm decided to move in today. Manehattan's long overdue and it's a pretty big one... think we might have some hail?”

“For your sake, I hope we do. Hope you catch some to the face, you annoying prick.”

“And I hope you're ready to face me.”

He hung up that time.

“Awwwww, bad sport.”

* * *

“Time to test my hooves...” I grunted as I slipped out of bed with Nurse Bedside Manner helping me along. “Alright... steady so far. Hopefully I still remember how to walk.”

“You'd be in for a bit longer if you didn't,” she chuckled.

“Might really have to get a psych eval then,” Zoleks joked.

“Oh stow it,” I huffed as I made my first firm steps, giving my legs a shake in turn. “Okay then!” I trotted in place for a few seconds. “Looks like I'm good to go. Thanks again, Miss Manner. Take care, alright?”

“You too, Hokkaido,” she said with a nod and smile. Zoleks and I were off.

“Oh, and here's your hat again,” the zebra said as he pulled out my trusty fedora.

I smiled and gratefully put it back on. “Ahhhh, thank you very much. Been missing it.”

“So what's the plan?” Zoleks inquired as he mounted his Hardly-Mason.

“Plan?” I smiled wider, getting behind him. Sure brought back good memories. “There is no plan.”

* * *

Day eight.

“Hello?”

“Hokkaido, you fuck, now you've done it!”

“'Scuse me, buck?”

“Stow it! Over half the gang is on fucking strike and yelling for my head! What did you do?”

“Buck, this is Zoleks.”

“... what?”

“I'm Zoleks.”

“... oh. Uh... this is, uh... awkward.”

“Yo, Pick?”

“Yeah?”

“Heeeeere's the punchline!”

He hung up and let the ending tone ring.

* * *

Zoleks put his phone away and looked at me.

I looked at him.

We burst into laughter.

“Hoooo... hoooo...” Zoleks eventually wound down. “What an idiot...”

* * *

Day nine.

* * *

Zoleks and I were having dinner at Ramenhausu 79, slurping our noodles together. Thunder boomed overhead as the relentless downpour drained the color of the world outside into a murky gray. The classical music started cutting out and the lights began flickering until everything went completely dark and silent.

At least until the murmuring began as the various patrons almost simultaneously turned their heads upward and made a remark about something or the other regarding the power.

“Buck, another blackout,” Zoleks likewise remarked.

I nodded. “Yeah, they've been rolling across Manehattan all day. Try not to think about it. We can eat without light or music.”

He looked at me. “You don't seem all that disturbed by it.”

“I was in a dumpster for three days. Darkness doesn't really bother me anymore.”

Zoleks visibly winced.

I sighed, “Sorry...”

“Nah, nah, I'm sorry.”

“Can we just both say we're sorry?” I smiled softly, not knowing if he could see.

“Heh... yeah, sure, sure.” The zebra slowly went back to eating. “Well, some weather manager in Cloudsdale screwed up and we were overdue for rain. Shoulda expected this. Duh.”

“Makes me wonder if Pick's been trying to call me since,” I huffed, pausing to slurp more ramen. “Cell towers have been in and out.”

“Wouldn't put it above him.” Zoleks shrugged.

“Heh. You know what? I think I'll pay him a visit tomorrow. See what happens.”

There was more murmuring and heads turned upward as the power came back on. We were bathed again in the light and the same old music track clicked back on.

“Would you look at that...” Zoleks muttered.

* * *

Fall was in full swing, and the night air was crisp and cool. Manehattan's Running of the Leaves had just taken place, and with it, the streets were still covered in freshly fallen orange, brown, and red. If Manehattan needed a third “L” for its title, it could've easily been “Leaves”. Manehattaner's liked to leave the leaves be until wintertime. They added a lovely splash of color to the already bright and glitzy city. It's hard to imagine nowadays how to capture the beauty of it all. All trees I've seen, save for those in the Everfree Forest, are long dead, turned to charcoal by balefire. And with no sun shining above our heads, everything's drained dull. I know my job as a storyteller is to paint a picture for you, but sometimes words do no justice. Everything back then was... just brighter, prettier.

But... I'm getting ahead of myself.

Day ten.

The Lazy Dog. Been just under two weeks since I last set foot in her. Whatever “poison” Zoleks' friend set up at the nightclubs was either found to be mostly harmless or long-gone by the Public Health Department... or Pick paid them off. I wouldn't put it above him. I wouldn't have put it above myself if I were in his situation. But whatever the case was, Zoleks and I shuffled slowly down the line for the front entrance, where Hammer Toss was acting bouncer for the front door. Once we were in sight, the buck visibly tensed and called something into his radio.

“Should we bail?” Zoleks asked quietly into my ear.

I shook my head. “Only if there's trouble. And since Pick knows for a fact I still have Commissioner Farrow on my side, I doubt he'd start any.”

When we reached the front of the line, Hammer grunted, “What do you want?”

“Good to see you again, too, Hammer,” I said with a... smile. He took one look at that and flinched. That was my dangerous smile, and he knew it. “I just wish to speak with the new manager.”

“He's not available,” he countered, tightening his jaw.

“That's nice.” I moved past him.

He blocked me with a hoof. “He's not available,” he repeated.

“And? Are you going to try and stop me?” I glanced at my zebra companion. He merely cracked his neck. Loudly.

Hammer lowered his hoof. “Uh... in you go then.”

I smiled. “I'm glad we can see eye-to-eye.”

I strode back into The Lazy Dog with its veritable sea of people on the dance floor and in the air. The pumping tunes made my heartbeat race and my bones quake. But now wasn't the time for ogling at mares. I strode for the office at an even, determined pace with Zoleks at my right.

“Hey, Hokkaido!” he shouted over the music. “You notice something?”

“What in particular?” I shouted back in question.

“Only two bartenders!”

I looked over there. Huh. I missed it completely. Imagine that. There were only two bartenders. Normally, there would have been at least seven. Imagine that. Looked like things weren't going so well with my good buddy Pick.

I also noticed that the bouncer normally lurking around the office entrance- namely Sunny Days- was absent...

Zoleks and I shared a glance before I strode forward and tried the door. It was locked. Unimpressed, I merely motioned to the door and stood back. The zebra buck shuffled his forelegs, loosening them up. Then he rose and brought a hoof down on the door like a wildcat would swat down. The door bent inward, hanging on a hinge. Zoleks quickly corrected that by shoving the door open and aside. Again, Manticore style was the shit.

We both walked through and were greeted with...

Pick Pack... Song Spinner... at the desk... together... moving...

Well, not anymore now that we crashed in. They just both tumbled to the floor and scrambled off from one another. Song quickly scrambled back up, her wings fumbling back down while Pick blearily staggered up with her. His eyes were a deep-red, and there were several, cigarette-sized rolls lying around...

“Hey!” I called. “This is a juvie-joint, you know!”

“Heh-heyyyyy, Hokey-dokey, how're you doing?” Pick giggled.

I opened my mouth to shout back in reply over the music.

“I'm going dooooooooood!” he laughed heartily. “Heh, heh, heh, hurr, I mean doing gooooooooooood!”

I looked over at Song Spinner expectantly. “Really? You're with him now? Really?”

Song glanced away, expression screwed up. “Better than you!”

I merely arced an eyebrow. “Really now? Is this a size-queen issue?”

“Hah, even he knows it!” Pick guffawed.

Song grumbled and flustered her wing. “So why the buck are you here?”

“Just here to see how things are going!” I answered. “To be truthful, I'm not exactly impressed!”

“Well I am!” Pick chuckled, waltzing closer. He did not smell good. “I figured it out, Hokkaido! I figured it alllll out! You were getting all your supporters together to try and overthrow me, huh? Huh? Well I got 'em all!”

“Is that so?” I looked at him with a slight grimace.

“Yep!” Pick beamed triumphantly. “And you had a whole... fucking... lot of them.”

“Hm. Yes I did! Nice job!” I motioned to the paper rolls. “So! Hash?”

“Yep! Rewarding myself! I mean, job well done! Over seven-thousand of your fuckers... heh, had them alllllllll kicked out! Kept on saying no, kept on denying, but nope! I knew they were yours! You were pretty smart, heh! Preeeeeetty smart! But I kicked them all out, had them removed from the payrolls and everything! All those strikers? Bam, gone! People who didn't like that? Bam, gone! And now? Now I can have my cake!” He tugged Song Spinner closer. “And eat it too! If you get what I mean!” He waggled his eyebrows. Or... tried to. He just sort of raised and lowered both of them repeatedly.

“That's nice!” I turned to Song Spinner. “Well, hope you enjoy him! If you say he's better than me, well, I'll have to take your word for it!” I turned to my friend and nodded toward the exit. “Come on, Zoleks! We're leaving!”

“What?” Song shot me a look. “Just like that? The hell you come here for?”

“Just wanted to check on how everything's doing is all!” I answered with a... smile. She knew that smile, I saw it on her face.

“Bullshit!” Song scoffed.

“Song, Song, babe!” Pick laughed. “Come on, let's leave the annoying prick be! He knows he's lost!”

“Indeed I have,” I murmured quietly to myself, striding on out with Zoleks at my side as Song protested against the advancing stallion.

We strode back out into the cool crisp air of Manehattan. I breathed in deeply and smiled wide. “Well, Zoleks, thank you for your help. I appreciate your loyalty.”

“Hey, it's what friends are for.” He elbowed me gently. “Jeez, seven-thousand? Isn't that about half of the Mumei wiped out?”

“Heh, like he took out every first-born son in the gang,” I said with a nod. “Maybe even a second or third.”

* * *

“Thanks for the ride, Zoleks,” I said, smiling softly at him as he dropped me off at my family's high-rise apartment building.

“No problem, Hokkaido.” He smiled in turn, leaning back on his purring Hardly-Mason. “So, uh, what happens now?”

“Now?” I sighed, smiling vanishing. “Now I need think about where I want to head in life. I know for a fact I don't want to be the kingpin of some gang.”

Zoleks nodded softly. “So, uh, is this good-bye?”

“Good-bye?” I chuckled. “Hay no! I'll probably want to be spending some time by myself, but don't you worry- we'll be keeping in touch. You have my number, and I have yours. We can still chat, have lunch or dinner together maybe.”

Zoleks grinned. “Sounds good to me. I think I should spend more time with Namira anyways.” He paused. “Really? Seven-thousand? You had that many?”

I huffed. “I don't know. I doubt it.”

“So that was all a lie?”

“Yep.”

“So... you just made him do that out of paranoia?”

“Yep,” I chuckled. “Didn't even have to do anything the last few days. Just worked out by itself.”

“You really haven't changed, have you?” Zoleks nickered.

“I think I have. Maybe. Only time will tell. I think this will be the last time I’ll ever have to pull something that convoluted, at least for a long time.”

“Hope so, buck,” he snorted.

“So...” My grin disappeared.

“So...” His did too.

I looked at him. Right in those eyes- those sincere, brown eyes. “... take care of yourself, Zoleks.”

“Take care of yourself, Hokkaido.”

We shared a nod, and he rode off with a roar of thunder.

* * *

My eyes fluttered awake as the first rays of sunlight filtered through the apartment window. The sunrise... it's one the many things I miss about Old Equestria. Imagine a brilliant orange glinting on the horizon, growing fuller, brighter. Imagine it breathing light and life into the city, watching all those late-night signs and bulbs flicker off and the people of Manehattan beginning to stir and start their days. It was something truly beautiful.

Especially back then. For me, it was time- time to wake up and smell the sunshine.

It was a new day, a new me.

It was time to start afresh.

* * *

This segment's memento is... nothing. The Mumei died out after that day. And I wanted it dead- completely. It's... something called damnatio memoriae- condemnation of memory- in Echin, the old tongue long lost to the sands of time. The only memory left of the Mumei in the end was the kind that resides only in the mind.

The storyteller tapped his forehead.

I obliterated as many traces of the Mumei as I could in the days to come. I severed ties, broke alliances, bid farewells, ended friendships, burned bridges. Vani helped me settle ownership of The Lazy Dog in court, but I sold it off to the DJ, Silva Hound. I didn't want anything to do with it anymore.

But one life ends, another begins. One door closes, another opens.

After all, there's always an opportunity in the aftermath.

* * *

Footnote: Hokkaido- Level Up! Level 5 Reached!
Perk added: Scoundrel (Rank Three)- Take the Scoundrel perk, and you can use your wily charms to influence people- each rank raises your Speech and Barter skills by 5 points.
Quest perk added: Dream Crusher- The grand plan six years in the making is all but ashes and dust- and you were the one to deal the final blow. You have a knack for killing the dream- including those of your enemies. All enemies have their chance to hit critically reduced by 50%.
Skills note: Barter- 75, Speech- 75

Zoleks has left the party!

[OK]

You lost Zoleks' You Got It, Boss perk!

[OK]

Unlockable added: Soundtrack- Burning Bridges

Soundtrack- Starting Fresh

Author's Note:

Thanks to the FoE community. You’re all amazing, creative souls. Additionally, thank you, Lazer726 for pre-reading this for me. Don’t deny it- you’re amazing. Lastly, thank you for reading. Please leave some feedback. I would greatly appreciate it.

And check out the Ask Frost Windchill tumblr!

Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!
PreviousChapters Next
Join our Patreon to remove these adverts!