• Published 11th Jun 2012
  • 1,288 Views, 22 Comments

Fallout Equestria - The Zone - Sweetwater



An ex-slaver named Buckler must survive in a very different part of the Wasteland.

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Chapter 2 - Echoes

Chapter 2 - Echoes

“Oh, time’s almost up. Look, there are a few things you’re going to need if you want to survive out here. A weapon (or at least a lot more ammo for the one you have), armored barding, a bit of guidance... and most importantly, you need to make some friends.”

Day -2

My body ached.

The battlefield of the night before lay silent as I lay in the sludge, breathing heavily with exhaustion. The signs of battle were obvious - the remains of our wagon smoldered in the morning gloom and bodies were everywhere. The rain had stopped at some point during the night but the ground was still saturated with water and the thick mud was sticking to my coat and mane.

I rose unsteadily to my hooves. Although my barrier had saved me from the fate of the two ponies in front of me, the force of frag grenades exploding had knocked me out and left me bruised and weak.

I considered the ponies I had killed, each wearing shoddy barding built using junk, faded cloth and leather. Their weapons lay on the ground beside them. I left them there, I had no experience with any form of machine gun and I doubted my levitation magic was strong enough, even at the best of times, for a heavy close-range weapon. Vaguely I wondered how many ponies they had killed with those weapons and if they’d killed any from my crew with them.

Suddenly the memories of the night before came flooding back. I remembered Tripwire, dead before he was even fully grown, and Obelisk rendered as flew behind our forsaken wagon. I saw Choke Chain’s head explode in front of me, pieces of gore and skull flying in all directions from the impact of the bullet. He had been a decent pony, better to me than most of the rest after Dad died. Before I could think again Chain’s head became Blood Money’s, and it was connecting with the head of a sledgehammer, his eyes going grey and lifeless as the weapon crushed his skull and brain.

Horror and sorrow hit me and I sank to the ground once again, my head in my hooves. It dawned on me just how much had happened last night. The attack had probably taken place in under 20 minutes and yet it had left me utterly alone. All of the ponies had known, even those I could not stand, were dead and I was alone in the wasteland, as good as dead myself.

But that never happened. We were a team, a crew. We killed and captured other ponies because that was something that happened to other ponies, never to us. It wasn’t right that this had happened. Sure, we lost ponies here and there, of course we did, but we never failed. We never all died. We were never left out on our own, the bodies of the others everywhere.

But we had, I knew. Then tears came easily and I cried hard as I sat there until the tears stopped coming and I just sat there, feeling empty and alone, wallowing in my own pity.

*** *** ***

Much later the depressing thoughts subsided. Instead I felt empty and numb, like all emotion had left and I was just a shell. I knew that was probably a bad sign, but I was just grateful to be capable of doing something. I stood once more, the drying mud in my coat cracking slightly, and looked around.

From my position I could see almost everyone, the bodies of everypony I had ever known easily visible in the light. I felt the dark feelings return but I pushed the thoughts from my mind and forced myself to see them as just corpses, not ponies. And corpses didn’t need stuff, whereas I did if I were to survive alone in the wasteland.

First and foremost I knew I had to get our PipBuck. I walked slowly towards Rup-the deep red corpse and studied the body. It hadn’t been dead when I last saw it, but the combat knife lodged in it’s eye socket meant that it probably died of shock and loss of blood hours ago. I shivered as I imagined the sensation of having a knife stuck in my eye, imagined the sheer blinding pain. Again I pushed the emotion from my mind as it threatened to overwhelm me.

“Alright, focus Buckler.” And now I was talking to myself. “Get the PipBuck, then we can leave.”

I looked at the thing on his arm. The small terminal glowed with a faint green light and was attached to his foreleg with a tough metal cuff that I knew would be hard to remove by physical means. I bent my neck down and pressed my horn to the PipBuck.

The spell matrix of the machine was a thing of beauty. I’d had little experience with such things but the sheer complexity of the thing was astounding. From what little I could understand, it was in panic mode. All it’s health monitoring programs were coming back negative - it’s host had sustained fatal damage and it knew it. This was probably a good thing, I discovered as I magically located what seemed to be a locking spell. The spell was encrypted against termination, but with a simple metaphorical prod it decrypted itself, the matrix detecting a potential new host now that this one was dead.

I cut off my magic and with a click the PipBuck unclasped from the arm and fell to the ground.

I levitated it, examining it. I was apprehensive now. The ring of metal and machine reminded me of our slave collars. The horrible machines were designed to be a constant reminder of servitude and would explode any time the owner wanted. Choke Hold had put one on me once for a joke and teased me with the detonator. I could still remember the sheer terror and constant restrictive feeling.

Right. More bad feelings, not good.

I closed my eyes and quickly clamped the thing around my left foreleg, just above the hoof. I was relieved to find that I could barely feel it, there was none of the awkwardness of the slave collar.

I gasped as my body embraced the spells of the machine and my vision filled with indicators and meters. The middle of the screen filled with a box of text and a graphic of a grinning colt, informing me of what each of the parts of the interface meant. What little respect for Rupture’s intelligence I had vanished as I realised just how simple these things were to use, a foal could probably use it. Then I remembered Rupture’s fate and felt horrible for even thinking that.

The lack of bars on the health meter was concerning, so I levitated the Sugar Apple Bombs from my saddlebags and devoured the pack while rifling through the saddlebags of... the corpse in front of me. My search yielded a few cans of processed meat from before the war (surprisingly still nutritious) and a few bottles of irradiated water as well as a syringe of Med-Ex and a couple of healing potions. I noticed a few more empty syringes lying in the mud. Rupture had at least had the presence of mind to use them to ease his pain it seemed.

I wandered around to the rest of the corpses and harvested them. I wasn’t very successful, Rupture was the best supplied in the crew and I didn’t want to try and remove bloody barding from the stiff bodies of ponies, so aside from a fairly large supply of caps I lifted from Blood Money’s corpse I didn’t get much more than a couple more bottles of water and packs of food.

What I did find was weapons. The varied array of weapons I found strewn across the ground provided me with ridiculous choice, although I found no new ammo for my 9mm. I settled on a well maintained sawn-off shotgun and a hunting rifle with a lovely scope on it and a rather nice number of rounds for both.

I also took Blood Money’s rifle with the shattered stock to harvest for parts. The PipBuck proved useful with this, and using it as a guide in combination with my own knowledge I was easily able to combine the highest quality components of both weapons.

It was close to noon according to the PipBuck before I finished scavenging. I stood once again in the center of the battlefield, sweeping my gaze across the fallen ponies. I felt like I should say a few words, more for myself than their sake.

“May Celestia watch over them.” was all I managed. With that I turned and set off north-east, trying to fight the growing fear in the pit of my stomach.

*** *** ***

BANG

The wild dog’s head exploded and I aimed down my scope at the last target running towards me. I fired thrice and hit twice, the second hitting the dog straight in the chest and instantly killing it with a yelp as a red light on the compass in the corner of my vision blinked out. I had been testing the system that the helpful colt graphic informed me was called S.A.T.S - Stable-Tec Arcane Targeting Spell - on a pack of wild dogs roaming around an old train station. The PipBuck also had a wonderful feature called E.F.S which allowed me to easily see potential enemies on the compass before I came across them, and allowed me to judge which direction they were in.

So far both were wonderfully effective, even in the rapidly diminishing light.

I wandered up to the station and bucked open the door to the ticket office. It was pretty bare with no decent loot, only a desk with an empty cash register up against the wall and some shelves, with a couple of glass windows presumably to sell train tickets, but it would provide a nice shelter for my first night alone in the wasteland. In a way it was liberating, being alone and in control of myself. But in another way it was utterly terrifying and depressing.

More thoughts to ignore.

I closed the door again and settled down against the office wall. I brought up the inventory manager on the PipBuck and brought out my Memory Orb. I held it once again in my grip as I had the morning before. So little time had passed since then, and yet so much had changed. At least I still had it, and now I had the time to watch it whenever I wanted. I allowed my magic to flow into the Orb and the memory instantly took me.

~ooO Ooo~

The sound of cheering assaulted my ears. My host was standing in a massive crowd before a brightly lit stage and adding her own cheering (it was definitely a her, I had noticed the first time I entered the memory and felt highly uncomfortable afterwards) to the noise. Standing on the stage was a beautiful white unicorn with a curling pink and purple mane, smiling happily at the crowd. Her horn glowed and a microphone levitated in front of her. The cheering subsided a little but there was still a dull hum as her amplified voice was carried over the crowd.

“Thank you! I’m so happy so many of you could come to our first Stable-Tech spring concert. We at Stable-Tech would like to remind you how important the happiness and safety of each one of you is to us.” More cheering followed for a few seconds before she continued. “And I’m happy to inform you that all the profits of this concert will be going towards helping ponies who have been seriously injured in the escalating conflict with the Zebra.” The cheering began again and she backed onto the stage as the lights dimmed.

The performance started with a few lively pieces and the crowd cheered and danced to the rhythm and sang along to the lyrics about love and happiness. It was almost sickeningly sweet, but the idea of this perfect world existing warmed me, and I even felt myself mentally embracing the lyrics, imagining myself tapping along with my host inside my little memory bubble.

Then there was a break as the singer went offstage for a few minutes to prepare, and then she returned and announced that she would be now singing a selection of her newer works.

These were different. The melodies were now deep and low and the lyrics mournful and reflective. The audience reflected this, now much quieter and gently swaying with the music. The final song was a return to the previous form, a short number about blooming love, and then the performance ended.

Now my host was pushing through the crowd, rushing to circle around to the side of the stage. We pushed through the throng of ponies towards a barricaded path. Guards stood watching as the singer, a “Sweetie Belle” that I vaguely recognised from the radios across the wasteland, walked down towards an enormous wagon that was bigger than most houses, waving and smiling as fans on either side screamed in excitement.

As she neared the wagon the door opened and a light purple unicorn with a darker purple mane with greyish streaks visible stood in the frame. The ponies who could see her instantly dropped to hushed whispering. I had no idea who this pony was, but evidently she was well known. The crowd quickly dissipated as Sweetie Belle straightened up and trotted quickly towards the wagon.

A pink pony with a ridiculously looking blue mane nudged my host as we started to walk away. “Follow me.” she whispered, and ran off back towards the wagon. My host followed and they both snuck around the side of the massive vehicle, avoiding the gaze of the guards that stood outside.

One of the windows on the back of wagon was slightly ajar and my host was able to stand up on her hind legs to peer through. Inside I could see both unicorns, but also an orange pegasus with a purple mane who was lounging across one of the seats and a yellow earth pony in a business suit who was standing and looking at the purple mare accusingly.

“-weren’t expecting you, Twilight.” Sweetie Belle was saying.

“Oh are you kidding? I love your songs, and I was honored to be able to have a chance to come watch you Live.” the purple mare replied.

“And that’s the the only reason you’re here?” Asked the yellow earth pony mare in a faint country drawl, clearly unconvinced.

“Well I did want to talk to you three as well.”
“Uh-huh.”

“Normally I would do this officially, but for now I would rather that this particular request stay unofficial for now.” She levitated out a rolled up sheet of paper from her saddlebags and unfurled it on a table. The three other mares gathered around to examine it and blocked my host’s view with their bodies. “I read reports about Stable-Tec’s intent to build a Stable here.” She lifted a hoof and pointed to a point on the paper.

“That’s right.” A new voice said, presumably belonging the pegasus whose face was no longer visible to me.

“Well I would also like to use Stable-Tec’s resources to build a specialised M.A.S. facility, here, not far away” She pointed to a new place. The earth pony suddenly drew back from the table.

“Stop, we can’t be talk about this here. Unofficial or not, we can’t make decisions now Twilight.”

“I understand, but please take these.” More paper. “And consider it. The M.A.S will cover everything ofcou-.” Her speech halted suddenly and she cocked her head. “Excuse me ladies, but I need to go. Please consider my request.” She nodded to all three and exited the wagon.

Sweetie Belle spoke up first. “So what do you think?”

The orange mare was examining the papers. “If we don’t do it for her now you know she’ll just go official on us. This all looks easy, but I’d like to know what she wants the extra reinforced parts for.”

The yellow mare with the red mane was just shaking her head. “She shouldn’t have come like this, I wonder why she didn’t go through the Mini-”

Suddenly the world took on a violet haze as my host was pulled backwards, landing on the ground with a thump. I felt her try to move, but something was holding her limbs. Twilight’s face appeared above me, her features betraying her anger as she lowered her horn towards my host’s head.

~ooO Ooo~

The instant I returned to my own body I could feel something was wrong. It was night and I could barely see but I could feel a pressure on my neck, something was wrapped around it. I felt around in the dark and realised what it was, I was wearing an explosive collar!

I remembered back to Choke Hold’s joke while trying to remain completely still, my thoughts racing. Who had put this thing on me? Where were they now? I’d heard stories of raiders putting bomb collars on unsuspecting wastelanders and watching them from a distance as they freaked out, exploding them at opportune moments for maximum hilarity. I’d started sweating now, I could feel the fear overtaking me as I sat alone in the dark.

I remembered my PipBuck and padded it with my hoof in the dark. Suddenly I hit the button I was searching for and the world filled with light. It illuminated a mare sitting in the corner, who stirred.

“Oh you’re back now? That’s nice. So here’s the thing, you’re gonna-” she was interrupted as I launched myself at her.

I was fast, but she was a little faster as she scrambled out of the way of my hasty attack. I closely avoided hitting the wall she had been leaning against and turned to barrel into her again. The office was small and this time I hit her, crushing her against the wall and locking her in place with my hooves. She rolled in my grip and headbutted me in the face, sending me rolling back, letting her free for long enough to turn and hit me straight in the chest with a two-hoof buck. I heard a crack as I slammed backwards into the wall.

I felt in my pack for a weapon - I had none. The bitch had stolen my guns while I slept!

Now she was running at me, horn down as I lay on the floor. My horn glowed and I summoned a magical barrier between us. She slammed into it and edged backwards, shaking her head. She turned and started kicking at the invisible shield.

“Oh, you wanna fight?” She laughed as she assaulted my barrier. “Go ahead and try, you’re coming with me whether you like it or not.”

“Not likely!” I yelled back, dropping my shield as she kicked, ruining her balance and sending her tumbling to the floor. I reached out and grabbed a metal clipboard sitting on the office desk with my magic, slipping into the PipBuck’s S.A.T.S. I queued three hits with the thing and released the spell, bringing the clipboard down heavily on her head three times.

Three hits should’ve knocked her out, but to my surprise she was instantly back on me, sending me scurrying around the room to avoid her hits. I tried to erect another barrier, but my magic was tiring and she simply powered through it with little resistance.

Suddenly she feigned left, and then slammed into me as I rushed to avoid the attack that wouldn’t come. I slid into the desk and she was on top of me, hitting me with her hooves as I brought up my own to block my face, using weak shields to try and stop the blows, to little avail. She hit me hard in the gut and I went limp, pain and loss of breath rendering me incapacitated.

I heard a click and felt the feeling of metal around my hoof. I shook and tried to pull it, but it was now locked to the office desk.

She had me.


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This Fic is based on Fallout Equestria, which you can find here: http://www.equestriadaily.com/2011/04/story-fallout-equestria.html
Huge thanks to Kkat for writing it and creating the world for us all to play around in.

More thanks to my pre-reader and editor, Jeff.

Locations and events in this story are inspired by the 1972 novel Roadside Picnic, the 2007 video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and the 1979 film Stalker. Familiarity with these pieces is not required but is encouraged.

Any resemblance to any other pieces of fan fiction is merely coincidental.

Any criticism is welcome and encouraged.