• Published 13th Jul 2015
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Founders of Alexandria - Starscribe

Four months after the end of human civilization, six ponies come together to rebuild. They learn that the apocalypse has not made friendship any easier.

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Part 1 (Adrian) - Chapter 1

Adrian hadn’t had this much fun since the Event. This said a great deal, since Adrian was a pony whose whole life was a never-ending search for adventure. He couldn’t sit still for more than a few minutes before his hooves started to tap and his wings started twitching, and he knew he had to get out and do something.

Behind the wheel of a huge truck, hauling a freakin’ house behind him, Adrian could feel like he was doing something. Metal groaned every time he turned or hit a bump; inside, possessions fell over and wood splintered, and the engine of his truck growled in almost animal protest.

Of course, the fact he had a cute mare along for the ride didn’t hurt, neither did the fact that Cloudy Skies was always naked. Adrian couldn’t exactly say at what point over the last three months he had started noticing ponies the way he had noticed women. Pretty early, probably. When in Rome…

But Adrian wasn’t in Rome, he was in Paris. Paris, Illinois. Or, as they had voted to rename it, Alexandria. He was also the only pony in town besides Alex who really knew how to drive a semi, even converted for pony use.

“I’ve never driven like this before!” Cloudy Skies perched in the passenger’s seat with her head out the open window. There was no padding there like had been put in place on the driver’s seat, so she had to practically stand to reach the window, resting her hooves outside and watching the empty town pass by.

Adrian had to keep his eyes on the road, so he couldn’t actually watch her. It would’ve been distracting if he tried. Towing such an enormous weight was not an easy task, even if he didn’t really take danger seriously. “That’s ‘cuz you haven’t rode with me before!” he shouted over the wind and the thumping music and the roar of the engine. “It’s always like this!”

She didn’t respond for some time, tail swishing behind her like an excited dog. There were plenty of dogs in the world bigger than a fully-grown pony, and lots of other animals besides. Not being human anymore did not make life easy. Still, she spoke eventually. “My dad drove a truck when I was a kid. He'd never let me ride with him, though. I wonder if he had this much fun.” She turned, sliding back into the cab and curling up in her seat. Neither of them were wearing seatbelts.

“Probably not.” Of all Adrian’s virtues, humility was nowhere to be found. “Hauling half a house, littering crap all over the road behind us, helping to build a new town… nobody could’ve said that before the Event.” He reached over, twisting a knob and lowering the volume with his hoof. He had to stretch to reach, even with the feet of padding that held him close enough to actually reach the wheel. The pedals were far too low, but levers mounted just below the wheel operated those. The shifter had been extended nearly two feet, and together the hideous contraption could be driven even in a handless world.

“Before, Sky, everybody was just another wheel. Not now. Now everybody matters. All of us can do something important if we want to.”

“Yeah.” Cloudy Skies seemed to deflate a little, avoiding his eyes. The fact his words had been meant to encourage didn't mean they actually would.

Which was the problem with this mare in the first place. Right age? Yeah. Attractive? Absolutely. Was even a pegasus, the only other pegasus in Alexandria. There was just one problem: she was completely insane.

He’d heard that said of many women before, though he’d never bought into the stereotype himself. Sky, though, she made them all true.

Adrian could do many things, but actually comfort the mare wasn’t one of them. Whenever he said something that set her off, his only recourse was to misdirect and divert the conversation to something he did understand. “How many more of these trailers do we have to move?” he asked, conversationally.

“Oh! Uh…” The pink-and-blue mare perked up at once, reaching for the clipboard in front of her with its map. “This is the last one for today! Day has us moving four trailers tomorrow, and… then we’re done!”

“Great.” Adrian… wasn’t much of a conversationalist. His bad wing continued to ache, despite the pills he’d taken that morning. No way those weren’t working less and less well every day. He’d probably have to upgrade to something stronger soon. He resisted the urge to scratch it, though. Sky would see, and ask questions, and make the drive even more awkward than it was.

Adrian tried to make the bandages out like another part of fashion he wore, like the pants and jacket in their black. Really, he thought they went well with the gray of his coat. Of all the ponies here, most left him alone about it. Cloudy Skies was one of the ones who didn’t. The other, Oliver, was even more annoying. No, he didn’t want to let anypony look at it. Yes, he was fine.

There hadn’t been a junkyard in Paris before the Event. That had changed now. Without anybody to tell them different, they’d chosen a field just north of town. Anything made of metal (including old trailers) they didn’t need would end up in the junkyard. Why did everypony want to repurpose a trailer park to live in when they had a whole town full of houses to live in? Adrian neither knew nor cared.

He stopped the trailer with some careful pressure, using one hoof on two of the levers and grinning slyly at the pegasus beside him. “Ready?”

Cloudy Skies answered by flying right out the open window. Okay, flying might not have been the right word. Despite all her flapping, she could only manage a glide after her initial jump. She could fly only after a good running start.

Adrian had to bite back the tiniest flash of envy as he had to use his hooves and the steps to make it outside. He couldn’t fly. He probably never would. It’s your own dumb fault. Live with your mistakes!

Nevermind that every time he looked up at the sky, he felt a terrible longing he couldn’t explain. Whenever the other pegasus told him about what she’d accomplished that day, he had to smile and pretend it didn’t hurt to hear.

It was either that or take to the road again, and break one of his rules.

#4. Leave every settlement with a phone.

Couldn’t leave Alexandria until it was situated, even if sticking around was sometimes boring and sometimes sucked. Fortunately, now was neither of those.

Cloudy Skies made her way to the edge of the junkyard. It was a fairly disorderly mess, with the nearer trailers fallen on their sides, broken glass and straining metal everywhere. “Don’t even think about it, Adrian. You can’t do it.”

“Oh yeah? I totally will! If Oliver and Alex can push over a trailer, I can!”

Cloudy Skies walked up to him, looking up at the hitch. It hadn’t come undone and dragged the trailer by the chains this time! “Olive Garden and Lonely Day are earth ponies. They’ve got magical strength. You’re a pegasus.” She nudged him with her side, right in the wing. Thank God it was the good wing, or else he’d have to bite his tongue not to scream. “You should go flying with me, not try to push over the junk.”

Junk it was; half a mobile home, divided in the middle. Junk was everywhere inside, from where it had been the moment everypony vanished. As everywhere else in the world, the people had vanished right in the middle of their lives. Food had been left half-eaten, beds had been left without occupants. The owners of this particular trailer hadn’t treated it kindly, and opening it had released a fairly unpleasant smell. Or maybe that was the intensity of his new pony nose combined with three months of time for things to rot?

Adrian didn’t respond to what Sky had said. Instead he said, “Wanna help me with the hitch?”

“Sure.” Life was harder for ponies; giving up hands had been far more difficult than giving up meat or losing half his height. Driving had taken days to figure out, but life continued to throw little roadblocks in his way. Even something as simple as lifting a trailer out of the hitch required dexterity difficult for hooves. The hitch rattled, and it would shake its way free of his grip unless he had a way of holding it still while he cranked it. Two human hands would’ve been perfect for the task, but those were in very short supply these days.

Without hands, Adrian could use his mouth on the crank. Fortunately, he had a friend. Everything was easier for ponies when friends were involved. Cloudy Skies held the trailer with two of her hooves, which freed Adrian to use his mouth to lower it down onto the ground. It hurt a little to put so much pressure on his teeth, but not as much as it would’ve if he had been human. Pony teeth were tough.

Adrian pulled the truck forward, so it would be out of harm’s way if any of his tipping techniques worked. Cloudy Skies fluttered up to another trailer they’d brought a few hours earlier, perching there as she watched. “This one looks heavier than last time!” she called. “Not a chance!”

He ignored her, moving to the center and trying to get the best leverage he could. It shouldn’t be that hard to push a trailer! It wasn’t as though he had to move all its weight.

Unfortunately, the laws of physics just weren’t on his side, and neither was Equestrian magic. Damn pegasi probably weighed half as much as unicorns, despite being the same size. He just didn’t have the mass, or the height. Maybe if he could’ve flown, and pushed from the top… no. Not even Cloudy Skies could hover like that, and she was much better than he was. Not the best flier he’d seen, but definitely on the list.

When he’d pushed hard enough to get himself panting and sweaty and reduced Sky to several fits of giggles, he eventually admitted he wasn’t going to do anything but embarrass himself and shrugged. “Alright, pony, you were right! I can’t do it. You can stop laughing.”

She did, gathering herself up and leaping off the edge of the trailer. She spread her wings, gliding elegantly down to land beside him as though her body were made of clouds and not flesh. He could’ve been that graceful, if he hadn’t been so stupid. “Okay, okay. You tried really hard. Even if you couldn’t knock it over.” She blushed and turned away, hopping back up into the truck. He followed with a sigh.


“You want me to drop you by the pasture?” he asked, after hopping up into the seat and tugging the door shut behind him. He didn’t bother with the seatbelt.

“Probably.” Cloudy shrugged, leaning on the armrest of her seat and looking at nothing.

He didn’t respond until after the engine was running and he was pulling out and away from the makeshift junkyard. “It’s on the way back, anyway. I know you like to spend time with the cows.”

“Yeah.” She hopped up onto her haunches, her head on the soft fabric of the seat. “I probably should. They get angsty if I’m not around more than once a day.”

He glanced sideways, raising his eyebrows. “Cows feel angst?”

That got her animated. “Oh, absolutely. I’m pretty sure they could already get grumpy before the Event, but now…” She rolled her eyes, leaning closer to Adrian as she spoke. “You wouldn’t believe how difficult they can be sometimes. The grass is too damp today, there’s not enough shade, the water isn’t fresh enough… I get that magic kills humans, but it made all the cows difficult.” She shrugged. “Helpful though. Much cleverer. They help me with the heavy lifting sometimes, as much as they can.” She smiled. “They aren’t oxen, but they don’t mind helping.”

He tried to think of something to say on such an incredibly dull subject. It was hard to concentrate with her smiling face only a few inches away, ears pointed right at him. “Do you… think they’ll help us full time when the fuel goes? Make them into oxen plowing the fields and stuff?”

Sky wrinkled her nose in disgust, but at least she didn’t seem mad at him. “Make oxen? No way! Do you know how they usually turn bulls into oxen?” She leaned closer to him, whispering. “They cut the balls off.” She shivered, and for once Adrian echoed the gesture.

“O-Oh. I didn’t know that.” He’d only recently learned that oxen and cows were generally the same species, also from her. It wasn’t the sort of thing he usually thought about. “Guess they wouldn’t like that.”

“No, they wouldn’t.” She shrugged, relaxing back into her chair. “It doesn’t really make sense to have the same roles for animals we had before. Often oxen were stronger just because they hadn’t been eaten long enough to get strong, not to mention all the hard work they did. Plus, you had to train them. We wouldn’t have to train the cows anymore, just… get their cooperation.”

Cooperation, from an animal. It sounded ludicrous. But he didn’t say that, because Sky really liked her cows. If she wanted to pretend that they’d become people, he wouldn’t tell her not to. “You think they’ll want to keep living here?”

She turned, looking at him like he’d asked the most obvious question in the world. “Well, duh. Course they will. Cows were bred to live with people. They’ve been doing it for thousands and thousands of years. You think they’re gonna try and go on their own now that we’re ponies?” She shook her head vigorously. “Course not! Actually, they like us much better now; now that we don’t eat them.”

He pulled the truck alongside the pasture, which was really just a large field gone to grass with a very secure fence around it to keep out predators. Sky had built a pavilion and there was a little pond, but otherwise it was empty. As the truck got close, half a dozen or so cows that happened to be near the water all stopped what they were doing and watched. Their eyes did not look as dull as they should. Even though she’d since rolled up the window, he felt the need to whisper. “They knew about that?”

She shrugged. It was something she did a lot. “Dunno if they knew before. I told them, so they know now. It didn’t seem right to try and work together with them without being honest.” She hopped out, then looked up. “Would, uh… you wanna come? I could introduce you to the herd. I know they’re big, but they’re actually really nice!

Adrian thought about it a second, but not long. He had all of zero interest in the cows; if he was done with his work for the day, he really ought to get back to the satellite phone and see what messages he’d missed.

On the other hand, Cloudy Skies was pretty, and she wanted him to be there. Not really a fair contest. “Sure! I’d love to meet them.”

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