• Published 28th Nov 2015
  • 3,703 Views, 216 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - Make Love Not War - hahatimeforponies

Atom Smasher, a sharp-tongued scoundrel, attends a turbulent family reunion that happens to take place in the deserts of the San Palomino wasteland.

  • ...

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

So, let me tell you something about deserts. They are decidedly not my natural habitat. I, one Atom Smasher, am a featherbrain raised in the cold damp dark of the Manechester hinterland (or, a hole in the ground beneath it, anyway). It's usually wet, it's usually miserable, everyone complains about it, but it wouldn't be home without it.

But dammit, I am not taking this leather jacket off. My bags are too full and it looks too good. It's probably going to kill me in this heat, but if you can't go out looking fucking stellar, what can you do?

I don't remember much before I passed out. It was daylight anyway. Probably not even bloody noon. I'd given up on the flying because I suck at it, and I was making myself more hot and bothered trying to get some lift, which left me tottering along boiling tarmac roads on the way between bumblefuck nowhere and the arse end of diddly-squat. Somewhere in the middle of questioning the life choices that led me up to this point, I lost strength in my legs and planted my face in the dirt. This was it. Some part of me giggled at the idea that someone was eventually going to come across my sun-baked bones and some freakin' sweet duds.

Obviously that didn't happen. Oops, spoilers! I can't have died if I'm talking to you now, eh? So while you stew on how I got out of that sweaty mess, let's take a detour into how I got into it.

Back home, I earned a bit of a reputation for myself. The Saint from the Stable, they called me. Not that I was indulging in much in the way of saintly behaviour, mind you. There was this entire region of ponies so desperate for a hero that they latched on to anyone that looked like they had a plan (I didn't.) Truth be told, my thing is that I make explosives and get into fights. I was amusing myself, and lots of really nasty types happened to be in the way. It didn’t take me long to catch on, and I ran with it. If I limited my mischief to these particular douchebags, other people gave me free stuff with a reasonable chance they wouldn't shoot me in the back at an opportune time. Everything was great, until something terrible happened.

I got bored.

The region started getting, like, civilised. Trade resumed. Raiders decided to stop raiding. Public transport sprang up, and five minutes later so did complaints about it being late. I tried a number of things to stay entertained when street violence went out of vogue. I started a band, but it turns out that my singing is pretty pants, guitar strings are shockingly hard to find in the wasteland, and while I can hold a rhythm, I didn't fancy being the drummer in my own band, so I left it. Seriously though, every ruined music shop that I tried had been plundered for everything intact, and I know that the intact stuff was there because there are guitar-shaped gaps in the 200-year-old grime. Some bastard went and took them all and I'm gonna cave his skull in with 'em when I find him.

Sorry, I'm still really cut up about the band falling apart. My next option was becoming a supervillain, but just as I was lying on my couch trying to come up with a cool name, that's when the letter that would give me heatstroke arrived. Don't ask me how the letter knew where I lived. Maybe someone had started up a post office, or it was a chain of couriers, I don't fucking know. All I know is that one day a letter turned up addressed to me. Let me remember it as best I can:

Dear Atom Smasher,

Hey! It's been a really long time - long enough that I don't know if you remember much of me. But boy, I remember you. I'm your brother. I'm a long way from home right now. I've been looking for Dad for a while, and... well, I'm still looking. It's been pretty tough. I'm not giving up though!

I heard about some crazy things going on back home, and when I pried more into it I started hearing descriptions of a pony that sounded an awful lot like you. I couldn't believe you'd made it out of the Stable! So I thought hey, why not shoot a letter off? If this gets to you, great! If it doesn't because you're still in the Stable and it's someone else raising hell, or... other reasons, then I'm only down a piece of paper and twenty minutes.

Long story short, I'd love for you to join me! I'm all the way in San Cimarron, San Palomino. In Equestria! It's okay if you don't want to or you can't, though it'd be nice if you'd write me back.

Excited to hear from you!

Rainbow Code

The first thing I did was scrunch this up and throw it in the corner. I don't have a brother. Clearly this was a scam. A suspiciously personalised scam.

I picked it back up and unfolded it, and read it again. I don't remember my Dad either. Or Mum for that matter. In fact prior to a point in my pre-teen years, my memory plain isn't there. I must have had parents at some point - I hardly popped out of the ground one day - and they weren't there in the Stable, and I don't know what happened to them... so maybe there was some truth to the letter?

Nah. Couldn't be. Back into the bin it went.

For about thirty seconds. Now the corner of the letter was stained with old teabags, so I had to make my mind up. I read it through a third time, fixating on the location. That's when it hit me! I yelped and muttered under my breath that I needed to fix the shelf over the bin, that's the third time this week it's fallen. Then after that I had a brainwave - Equestria. It'd be something to do. I'd be shuffling out of this leaky shack in Colton and be on the road again. I hadn’t even internalised that this adventure was probably going to be more interesting than trying to take over the world, and I was already looking for a sturdy saddlebag, raiding jars of caps and trying to figure out how to get to Equestria.

Months passed. I had a miserable and expensive sea journey to Equestria, followed by a trip through some places so backwards I’m not sure they’re even aware the world ended. I'd been growing my hair out for the band, but I let it get really long while travelling. I started collecting junk that I liked the look of, or confused people. The only weapon I had was a toy raygun that may have made a sound at some point in the distant past, but the battery was long gone now. I can't remember where I found the leather jacket. I just woke up with it and a hangover one afternoon in New Oreins. Maybe some charming stranger was trying to get my attention by being gentlemanly. Sucker.

Which brings me to passing out on a road in the desert. Have I mentioned that Equestria is fucking huge? The Shetlands are sensibly proportioned to the size of a continental carry-on bag. Equestria has these huge empty swathes in the southern end of it that I had to fucking walk through to get to San Cimarron. Big empty fields of dust for hundreds of miles. That's San Palomino. A great big plate of fucking nothing. Southeastern Equestria had the same permanent cloud cover problems as back home, but this dust bowl did something to piss off the sun. There's not even a wisp to climb on and ride like a mall amusement or hide under. Just sun, sand, sky, and what's left of a freeway. I fucking hate it.

I woke up feeling like death. My head pounded, my sense of balance wasn't co-operating, I couldn't see clearly, and the backs of my legs were on fire. My jacket was gone. I've had worse, I'll be honest, but I still wanted to down half a pint of rum and return to blissful oblivion, and being in a cold, dark room when my last memories were of being amused that I'd found Route 66 filled me with enough concern to check it out. Getting up felt like peeling myself off of flypaper. I'm pretty sure it sounded like it too.

"Easy! Take it easy. You're in bad shape," someone said.

"Fuck off." I swatted a hoof in the general direction of the sound. I was rewarded with a yelp. He laughed it off.

"Don't say I didn't warn you."

I sat up. My head felt like there was water in it, sloshing around and making me sway in a circle. After a few seconds of this, I returned to lying on my belly. Every part of me still felt hot, despite the chill of this... whatever the fuck this place was. A second later I sprang up.

"Hang on a second. Hold the fucking phone."

"Holding!" His cheeriness was winding me up already.

"What's a bloody Manc doing in the desert?" For those of you appreciating my glorious life story through the medium of text, this is the part where I twig that this ninny has the exact same accent as me, and one I haven't heard out of anyone other than me for months.

"I could ask the same of yourself!" He chuckled.

I twisted around. I might as well have been rolling in sandpaper, but I had to get a look. My vision had cleared enough to spot the lantern on the floor, and start identifying things in the room. A counter was dimly outlined in the distance. Tall stools lined up around it, some of them with stuffing torn out of their seats. Glasses and plates and pieces thereof had been swept to the side of the room, and on the other, tables were flanked by seats in the same sad ochre as the bar stools that had once been cherry red. Standing over the lantern was this dude. The pale cream coat didn't jump out at me as much as the other colours. His nose blocked a lot of the light from reaching his face, but enough still reached to frame the red, yellow and green of his big floppy fringe, and catch the blue in his eyes. I noticed these colours in order, and my brain made the leap.

"... Rainbow Code?"

He grinned. "The penny drops!" He chuckled and stepped back, letting the lantern light cover him rather than frame him.

Then something I don't quite understand came over me. It wasn't that this insane long-lost-brother theory (or elaborate scam) had turned out to be at least halfway accurate. That doesn't explain what I did. It's safe to say that the gut reaction I had to seeing Rainbow's face put suspicions of deception out of my mind afterwards. Maybe it unlocked some memories on a subconscious level. If my earliest memory is having an extremely miserable breakfast by myself at age nine, then that meant Rainbow had to have been gone by then already. Actually, maybe that's why I did what I did. Not in such a logical process, of course. That's just me trying to retrace mental steps after the fact. At the time it was all hunch. I might have connected the two events and remembered the emotion I intended to feel, but couldn't express with him not there. Now that his mug was in front of me, an eleven year old gesture could spill out.

I got up and strangled him.

Well, I tried anyway. I was still feverish from the heatstroke earlier, and my ass had so much sunburn on it I might as well have been sitting on nettles. My murder attempt amounted to clumsily massaging his neck and trying not to cry. The physical pain catalysed the tears, and I crumpled to the ground in a blubbering mess. I didn't even cry when my dog died, and Snowy was the best thing to ever happen to me. It's not something I thought I was capable of.

"Are... are you okay, Atom?"

It took me a moment to stop shuddering enough to reply. "You're a fucking cunt," I hissed, through gritted teeth and wet nose.

"Should I take that as a no, or..."

"You're a piece of shit and I hate you."

He blinked and looked around. "I'll... I'll give you some space."

"Go for a fucking walk in space without a helmet you assclown!" I shouted after him. He left the lantern, and then the room. I lay there clutching my stomach for minutes after that. The blood pounding in my ears made it hard to listen for anything. All I could hear over it was my own sniffling, echoed back at me. On my own, I crawled back to the bedroll, and sleep claimed me again.

Again, I've slept worse, but this was pretty bad. The part of the diner where he'd left me was shaded, but the morning sun streamed in through the open windows, bouncing off glasses and draught taps behind the counter to fling an annoying glare at me. Between the assorted remaining pains, the thinness of the bed and the growing light problem, there was no way I was getting any more sleep. I felt a lot better than I did in the middle of the night. A nearby empty vial with a fat pink cross on it explained that. The back of my legs where I was sunburned still felt tender, and I had a headache, but I could stand up at least. I kicked over one of the bottles of water he'd left me. Behind it was my stuff. Goggles, jacket, bags, raygun, all of it. Considerate little bastard.

I left it to explore the diner and walk off some of the stiffness. The place had been plundered long ago. All of the doors in the kitchen had been torn off already, and the oven had a skeleton hanging out of it. A machine mounted to the wall had a load of dents in the metal front. A cat with a fishbowl on its head and a shit-eating grin was drawn on the peeling sticker. According to it, this was Satellite Sam's Special Delivery Station, and the instructions on the mechanism had worn off. There were a pair of slots and a button, rather like a vending machine. Based on the shape of the dents, some bonehead had probably tried to get at the contents with their skull.

My stomach didn't like moving, so I went back to the water bottles to shut it up. A pair of knocks behind me grabbed my attention. Rainbow Code stood looking through the hole where the window used to be. His eyes shifted from side to side, and he was biting on a grin. He shoved the door open.

"Ring ring," he said in place of the absent bell. I frowned. He stepped inside and leaned over a seat. "You're looking a lot better than last night."

"You came back." My thoughts at this point simply weren’t. My id wasn't trying to feed him his own hindlegs, but I was still processing the reality of his existence.

"Of course. I wanted to see if you were quite sure about some of the things you said to me." He breathed a chuckle.

"You're an insufferable git based on the five minutes you've been talking to me." I chugged more water.

"Look, I... I don't blame you for hating me. I abandoned you in the Stable, and I'm sorry. I had my reasons for leaving, but I didn't stop to think them through..."

I leapt on one of his pensive pauses. "I don't remember shit."

He blinked. "You don't?"

"Yeah. I forgot you existed. I haven't a fucking clue why I went apeshit last night. So please stop grovelling, you moptop. As far as I know this is an extremely roundabout grifting operation."

He crossed both forelegs on the top of the seat. "Let me get this straight. You travelled thousands of miles, on an extremely expensive, time-consuming and dangerous journey, all but abandoning the life you had, to meet the brother you forgot you had, while not even being sure he is who he says he is?"

I thought for a second. "Yeah. S'about the size of it."

"Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely overjoyed to see my baby sister, but why are you here?"

"I was bored." I couldn't keep myself from grinning proudly. This seemed to break him for a good ten, fifteen seconds. "But hey, family reunion it is!"

"You're... definitely something, Atom." He laughed again. Was he ever not laughing in one way or another? It was kind of annoying.

I started picking up my shit in the corner. "So tell me about this Dad-quest business. I'm here, I have nothing better to do, so I might as well follow this - what is this thing in my jacket."

"Oh! I took the liberty of-"

"Are you trying to make me a suicide bomber?"

He made a face that was halfway between convulsing with shock and spluttering out a laugh, and doubled over until he'd coughed up an organ or two. "Sweet Celestia, Atom!" A terrible thought crossed my mind. He wasn't a missionary, was he? If I'd come all that way just to be asked if I'd heard the Good News (trademarked, careful now) then I'd have to suffocate myself in that bedroll. "No, it's, uh. I had a spare personal cooling unit. Your jacket is kinda heavy, but you also seem to quite like it, so rather than have you go out and be a little baked potato again, I fitted the cooling unit into it. It's designed for power armour, but it does fine in jackets. It was so that... even if you didn't want to see me again, I could still keep you safe out here."

I stared at the jacket for a few seconds. His smile had softened from jovial to tender. "That is unbearably sweet. Stop it, or I'm making you find a dentist for me too." He broke out chuckling again. When I tried the jacket on, it was heavier, but it also wasn't stifling me like it was yesterday. This incessant niceness was really getting on my nerves. "Now. The Dad thing. You're going to have to tell me everything, because like I said, I don't remember the dude in the slightest."

"Right." He inhaled. "Our father is a pegasus named Gadget. He's a Dashite. He never-"

"Explain Dashite for me."

Rainbow cleared his throat. "Back before the war..."

"Simply, man."

He made a disappointed noise. "Enclave traitors get branded with the cutie mark of Rainbow Dash and left to die on the surface."

"Okay. Continue."

He cleared his throat again. "He never talked much about his old life, but I do know that he used to be a scientist for the Enclave, here in Equestria. He got branded and expelled after his research got him interested in trying to help the surface. Some time after that, he went into hiding."

I looked down from adjusting my goggles. "In a Stable on another continent?"

"The old man must have been really spooked. He got settled in, and... that's where he met Mom and had us."

"And this is obviously not the end of the story."

"Not long after you were born, Mom died. He... was never the same after that. He and I fought a lot, since I was a bratty teenager then, and you..." He laughed a sad laugh. "You were always looking for attention in between it all."

"War never changes, eh?"

"Then he just... up and left one day, when I was nineteen. I think he thought twenty-five years in hiding was enough, and that I could look after you. I, uh..."

"You both fucked that one up pretty hard there!"

He looked at the floor with closed eyes that mourned, but a smile and an amused huff regardless. "Yes, I did fuck that up." He shook his head and looked up again. "So I tracked him here, to San Palomino. The trail went cold, but I have a feeling he's still here.” Somewhere towards the end of this sentence, his weight broke some of the rotting timber he was leaning on, and he lurched forward, catching himself with the seat. He stepped back before he broke anything else. Have I mentioned that he’s built like a tank? I didn’t notice he was a pegasus until he flapped his wings backing up here. He’s easily half a head taller than me and like, not only has someone been feeding him out here, he’s been putting it to good use too. Big fucker, and all muscle. “I have some more detailed information back at base. Uhm… shall we?"

"Might as well, I mean this shitty diner on the road to nowhere isn't doing us many favours." Raygun suitably adjusted, I breezed past the counter to Satellite Sam's Special Delivery station. I flicked a token off one of the tables - it was next to a small plate, with some small bones in the seat - and ferried it into the slot on the machine.

"Atom, what are you doing?"

By some miracle, it sprang to life, giving some awful mechanical grinding sounds before spitting out a little plastic box with the space cat on it. I caught it, and the lid sprang off with the impact. I tipped the box over, and out slid a plastic-wrapped pair of round-lensed glasses with a swirly pattern painted on. 'HYPNOGOGGLES' read the paper in the packet. "Sweet!"

"Are you starting a collection?" Rainbow tilted his head as he watched me rip the bag open.

"Starting?" I shoved the glasses on, arms held in the strap on my goggles. They were on the tight side, but they'd bend to fit over time. "I'm having trouble controlling it."

He shrugged as he turned to leave. "I guess I can't criticise."

I hurried after him. I had to notice that he looked a bit unprepared for the wastes. "Rainbow, where's your shit? Do you live five minutes from here, or..."

"Oh! I slept on the roof to keep watch. Just a sec." He crouched, then jumped on the roof with a single wingbeat. He had that same sloppy wobble that I had when flying, but not as noticeable.

I paced while I waited, and boy did I have to wait. There were some clangs and clicks and whirrs coming from above. In fact, lots of them. "What the balls fuck do you have up there that's taking you so long?"

"Might want to stand back?"

"Holy shit, what are you carrying?"

"Heads up!" A few seconds later I was about fifteen feet away, having scrambled and fallen over to get away from the ton of steel disembarking from the roof. I had to duck from the wave of dust it sent out. When it cleared, there was the stupid bugger, standing proud as a damn rooster in a set of power armour. I’ll bet he had one of those spells that slows down time lined up too so he can let his goofy grin and stupid fringe dramatically appear from the dust, followed by scuffed steel boxes and tubes and hydraulics. He looked like the head of a Ken doll stuck on the body of a Transformer. He didn't believe in helmets, evidently, but it had all the other trimmings - articulated limbs, wing slots, laser battle saddle, and... oh no.

"Uh... riddle me this, Rainbow old chap me old man."


"Are you a Steep Rover?"

He furrowed his brow. "Do you mean Steel Ranger?"

"That's what I said. Stew Rider."

He looked side to side. "Right... Yes, I am. Paladin Rainbow Code, at your service."

I scratched my chin and pulled some faces. "This is going to be interesting!"

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