• Published 11th Jun 2012
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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 3 - Progress

Chapter 3 - Progress

"We know that the road is hard, and yet we stand and face the challenge."

Day -1

I spent the rest of the night trying to sleep, although I woke in fits and starts every hour or so. Every time I awoke I silently tried to check for a possibility of escape, but there wasn’t one. My captor didn’t seem to sleep much, only once did I wake to find her sleeping. The rest of the time she was watching me, obviously still wary despite my situation, hoofcuffed to a desk.

The cuffs themselves were strong. At one point during the night I had tested them, bending my fetlock around to try and find a weakness, but it hadn’t given an inch. I briefly considered picking the lock, I still had everything except my weapons, but the mare across the room stiffened every time I moved and was always watching me so I didn’t like my chances.

I woke for the final time as dawn arrived, the new light giving me a better view of the unicorn than the night before. Her coat was a dark orange, like rust, and her pale brown mane hung loosely around her neck in several strands. Faded light armoured barding covered her light frame - obscuring her cutie mark and offering protection to her entire body, but mostly to her chest and side where the muddy brown barding was better reinforced. She rose from her position against the wall and stretched, allowing me a quick glimpse of some sort of mask attached to suit at the base of her neck.

She approached me and I recoiled defensively in case she attacked me again. She scowled and her horn glowed with yellow light. A sawn-off shotgun - my shotgun - levitated out of her saddlebags and pointed at me while she spoke.

“Listen up, slaver. You got a lucky hit last night, but if you think you’re gonna be able to take me on again you’re wrong. So what’s happening here is that you’re gonna come with me like a good pony, or I’m gonna keep beating you until you do.”

“Take off the collar and maybe I will.” I replied, glaring at her.

She smirked. “Don’t you like wearing a collar? I think it suits you. Maybe I’ll take it off once we get where we need to go, or maybe I’ll just leave it on. It’s not like the people you captured ever got to take it off again, not that you people give a shit.” She paused and feigned thinking while casually waving the barrel of the shotgun about. “But no, I think you’re going to keep the collar and if you try to escape I can just blow you apart to save some trouble.”

“But then you’ll need somepony else for whatever you want me for. That’s more trouble to go through.”

“I’ll take my chances.” She floated a key out of her saddlebags towards me and unlocked the hoofcuffs. The second they clicked open I yanked my hoof out and flexed my freed fetlock. My captor walked towards the open office door and beckoned through it with her gun. “Let’s go, slaver.” I glared at her but complied. I stepped through the door in front of her into the early morning light.

Suddenly the wasteland in front of me seemed so open, the flat land stretching endlessly up to the mountains to the north. I thought of running, trying to get away before she could shoot or set off the collar. But then she shoved me with the barrel of the gun and I realised the stupidity of that idea. Even if I took her by surprise, I would get nowhere before she blew me sky-high with the explosives around my neck. No, it was better that I stayed with this mare and try to escape later.

*** *** ***

We walked straight for most of the day, me in front and her behind with her gun ready in case I tried anything. I didn’t, but I did try to keep track of our location. My crew had been in this part of the wasteland before, and I could vaguely make out landmarks - a derelict building or two there, a giant display screen in front of an open park there - but soon even they started to disappear and I lost track of where we were going. Yet still we kept on going, barely changing course.

In the end my curiosity got the best of me. “Where are we going?”

“North.”

Well duh, I thought. “But there’s nothing in the north. Just mountains.”

She snorted. “That’s what you think, little pony. There’s more inside the Rim than mountains.”

Now I was curious, and scared. Inside The Rim was a dangerous place. Nopony ever traded with anypony who said they came from The Rim, because nopony ever came from The Rim, because nopony lived there. Sure the wasteland was a bad place, but if the stories were true then the area within The Rim was worse. The tales went that the ponies that lived there were part of the wildlife, they lived and breathed their home, and it pained them to leave the place. They were cursed by it.

Did this pony come from there? What did a pony who lived in such a place want with me, and why had she left the Goddesses-forsaken place?

And now we were going there. Not good.

*** *** ***

I looked tentatively at the sight in front of me. Looming ahead was a massive canyon, apparently one of many that led between the sheer rock walls that made up The Rim and served as a path to the land within. To the left of the entrance was a crudely made shack built in part from a giant metal container. My captor nodded to it.

“Stay there for a while. I need to scout ahead to check it’s clear for you. Wouldn’t want you getting anypony hurt would you?” She smirked.

I felt my heart race. She was leaving me alone and I could use this time to find a way to escape!

It must have shown because she quickly crushed my hopes. “And don’t forget, if I come back and you’re not here..” She didn’t finish, instead miming out the word “Boom!” and hanging her head with her tongue hanging out, as if dead. She laughed at my shock and turned to trot off down the canyon, quickly disappearing behind the weaving rocks.

After I lost sight of her I entered the shack. Although poorly made, it had clearly been around for a while - evident from the patched bits of rusted wall. One wall had a fridge and cabinet against it while another had a decent-looking bed pushed up against it. I ignored my body’s reminders that I had barely slept for two days and rifled through the storage.

Both provided some nice rewards. From the fridge I acquired a single bottle of water and three bottles of vodka as well as what seemed to be tinned vegetables and a thick stick of some un-named meat. However my best haul was from the cabinet, picking the lock provided me with an assault rifle and ammo and a memory orb. I floated out my own memory orb beside this new one and examined them. Both were the same basic crystal ball, almost exactly alike save for a few scratches and rough areas that set them apart. I stored both back in my saddlebags - now was not a good time to be gone for an unknown amount of time.

Now I had a weapon I potentially had a way out, if I was careful. Shooting her the minute she returned from the canyon wouldn’t be the best idea. I could still miss easily, even with S.A.T.S. to guide me and if I did it would be easy for her to take cover and kill me. However if I let her get too close before making a move she could see my gun and kill me just as easily.

I buried my face in my hooves. I knew I was overthinking it but there was so many things that could go wrong with the escape.

The sound of talking roused me from my self-pity. I edged towards the door and peered out. Three ponies were approaching the mouth of the canyon, each wearing black light barding. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but whatever it was made one of them burst into laughter as the three came to a stop just outside the canyon and sat down next to a rather large rock, mere yards away. My E.F.S was registering them as yellow (safe) lights, but I wondered just how trustworthy the little spell was.

It occurred to me that they appeared to be waiting, perhaps for my captor. Friends, maybe? Definitely not a good thing for me if they were, but then friends didn’t normally lie in wait. So perhaps enemies. They say that the enemy of your enemy is your friend, but I doubted that they would be too eager to help a collared slave. More likely they’d just keep me themselves, or kill me.

I withdrew back into the shack and loaded the assault rifle. No matter how this went down, having a way to fight probably wouldn’t hurt. I stuck my head out of the door once again - straight into the field of view of one of the ponies.

He yelled and unstrapped a submachine gun from his back, bringing it around to fire in his mouth. Too late though, I put several bullets in his head with S.A.T.S and ducked behind the wall of the shack as the door lit up with gunfire. The shots stopped coming and I peered back around the frame. The two surviving ponies had also taken cover, both behind their big rock. I watched the rock for a couple of seconds until one of them appeared around the side of their cover, looking to shoot me again with her own submachine gun.

I proved more accurate as we traded fire, hitting her in the body and sending her reeling before ducking back behind my cover. The second time I poked my head out I almost had it taken off, bullets tearing past my face in the second before I pulled it back. I grimaced and snuck along the wall of the shack as the sound of bullets echoed around me, nearly deafening me, and moved under the small glassless window near the corner. I popped up and took aim, finishing the pony that was now sitting bleeding out of cover.

The final pony immediately turned and started firing on me from the new angle, emptying his magazine at the window I was no longer under. I moved back to the door and waited. The minute I heard the firing stopped I started running, closing the distance between us quickly while bringing up my weapon. He finished reloading and his head came back into view over the rock, his weapon levitating up beside him.

With such a short distance between us it was child’s play to use my now recharged S.A.T.S to spray him with deadly accurate automatic fire while my own magical shield took the brunt of the few shots he managed.

I came to stop and examined the bodies, strangely pleased and terrified with how easily I had killed them. My first kill was the cleanest, I decided, and had the most intact barding. I dropped my rifle and removed it with magic, his lack of head making it much easier to unstrap the barding and pull it off his body before pulling it on myself, content with my new situation.

This feeling was shattered as I heard a familiar voice spoke behind me and I felt cold pressure at the exposed part of my throat not covered by my collar.

“Nice work little pony. Now leave the guns where they are and let’s get moving. We wouldn’t want anypony who knows them catching us.”

“You don’t know them then?”

“Not personally, but I’m sure they’d want me dead if they were still alive.” Her tone was dismissive.

“Shame.”

“Of course. Now let’s go little pony.” The pressure at my throat went away. I looked longingly back at the guns before walking towards the canyon. A stupid question rose to the front of my mind, but I voiced it anyway.

“Why do you call me that?”

“What?”

“Little pony. You’re no bigger than me.”

She laughed. “Maybe we’re the same outside, but you’re still a very little pony.”

“Well I have a name.” I came to a stop and glared at her. “You should use it. If you’re not going to let me go for saving you -” her mouth opened but I kept going, evenly emphasising my point “- from those slavers who would have mowed you down when you came back through the canyon.” Her mouth shut. “You can at least use my name.”

Her brow furrowed as she considered it. I maintained my glare, trying to stay in control of the situation. “Sure.” She decided.

“Good.” I started walking again, leaving her behind me.

“Errr... well?” She said to my surprise. I turned to face her.

“Well what?”

“You haven’t told me your name you idiot.” She smirked and started laughing again as I felt myself blush.

“It’s Buckler.” I snapped.

“Well good job, little Buckler. Now let’s get moving.”

*** *** ***

Trees surrounded us on all sides. The canyon tapered off after a while and gave way to a forest of dead trees which crowded the dirt road we were walking down on all sides. It was strange, seeing this many in one place. The wasteland had them of course, shriveled black husks that dotted the wasteland, but never all in one place. Even without their leaves the sheer density of them meant I couldn’t see far past the cover and whatever dangers remained within.

My companion seemed unfazed though. She was walking ahead confidently, leading me down the path between the trees. Occasionally the path would seem to end, only for her to turn and duck around one of the dead trunks and reveal another rough path that lead on for ages.

The light soon began to fade and I started to see movement in the trees and howling from within the cover, never too far away, that sent shivers up my spine. The mare in front of me simply responded by straightening her sawn-off and glancing around every few seconds.

Suddenly four wild dogs burst from the tree line in front of us, charging at us snarling. They looked bigger than the ones I had killed yesterday, more aggressive as well. Both of us turned to strafe and dashed out of the path of the dogs, my captor firing off both shots in her shotgun, peppering one of the dogs with buckshot and dropping it. The other three immediately turned tail and ran, quickly disappearing from view behind the trees. I came to stop, breathing heavily and pumping with adrenaline and looked at the mare. She was still backing up, her gaze sweeping around the entire treeline as she magically reloaded the shotgun. I tensed again - if she wasn’t relaxing it probably wasn’t a good sign.

The sound of barking and breaking branches alerted me to the return of the dogs just behind me with seconds to spare, long enough to turn and dodge away from their bite before twisting and kicking one of them dead in the side with both hooves. It yelped and shrank back while behind me I heard the roar of gunfire again and a thump as another dog fell to the ground. I erected a barrier as the dog I was focused on charged at me again, thumping against the invisible wall with a snarl.

In my satisfaction with holding off the dog I was tackling I didn’t notice the last one until I heard a yell from behind me. I turned and saw the dog a split second before it was on me, swiping at my lightly armored sides and latching on to my front leg. My shield dropped and I the other dog charged, but that dropped as well as more shotgun shots rang out, only leaving one on me. I reared up and tried to hit it with my front hooves but it dodged around and swiped at me again, leaving a gaping wound in my thigh before I could react.

I stumbled from the pain and it tackled me, sending me sprawling to the ground and it standing over me. I erected a shield quick enough to deflect the first bite and then a blade sprouted from its eye. It howled in pain and went limp on top of me as its brain shut down. I shoved it off and struggled to my hooves panting.

A healing potion held by a rusty colored hoof materialized in front of me. I took it and drank down the red liquid eagerly, feeling my wounds seal from the magic in the potion.

“Thanks.” I gasped.

“Can’t have you being hurt, little Buckler. We need to keep going and there are probably more.”

As she spoke the forest once again erupted into howling, this time much deeper. The mare snapped her head up, concern on her face. Her horn glowed and my hunting rifle materialized in front of me, held in her yellow tinted magic.

“Take this, we’ll need it.” I eagerly reached out to grab the rifle but she pulled it back at the last minute. “And remember, if you shoot me, you’re all alone out here. How long do you think you can hold out?”

My face obviously gave away my fear because she nodded and handed me back the rifle before turning and cantering off down the path. I paused for a second, considering my options, before following her. At least I had a weapon again.

*** *** ***

We kept going until we lost the sound of the dogs and then a little longer until we came to a clearing that my captor decided was a good place to rest. I sat down and watched as she started bucking the dead trees around the clearing for firewood, gathering them up in bunches and setting them down in a pile in the dirt. She then sat down next to it and levitated her knife and a strange black rock up to the pile, striking the rock with the knife and spraying sparks over the pile. To my surprise and pleasure the pile burst into flames, providing a needed warmth and light in the darkness.

I stood and walked over to the other side of the fire, holding my hooves up to the fire. She looked at me suspiciously and drew her sawn-off in warning. My own rifle was slung across my back so I lifted a hoof to indicate I wasn’t going to try anything. She lowered the weapon, but kept it out and I could see she was ready to lift it at any time. I ignored her and stared into the fire, thinking.

“What’s your name?” I asked suddenly.

“What?” she asked, perplexed.

“You never told me your name after I told you mine.”

“Does it matter?” she snapped. “We’re not friends, little slaver. You’re my prisoner.”

“Maybe, but I need to know what to call you just in case.”

She looked unconvinced but relented. “Fine. You can call me Soft Step. But don’t get any ideas, you’re still keeping that collar on and I’ll still blow your fucking brains out if you try to run.”

I nodded and returned to looking at the fire. I was contemplated looking into the orb I took from the shack, or returning to my one when I heard the sound of snapping in the trees on my left. Judging from the way she was looking Soft Step had heard something as well. We both stood and drew our weapons, turning to face the direction of the sound. My E.F.S wasn’t giving me anything but I knew there was something out there.

We stood still for a second, until suddenly the sound of gunfire assaulted my ears - not from the direction I was facing, but from behind me! Bullets thudded into the trees in front of me as I turned away from the fire, and suddenly four red lights spread around the clearing blinked into life on my E.F.S. I could see the shadows of the ponies against the trees in the dark and more were appearing on my E.F.S - at least 6 ponies were surrounding us on all sides.

I took aim at one of them with my S.A.T.S and fired three shots, but the lack of light meant all of them missed. I dropped my weapon and backed into Soft Step, my horn glowing as I summoned a silver force field around us. The rust-colored mare smiled as the bullets collided with the barrier to no effect.

“Nice.”

However I was trying too hard to maintain the spell to acknowledge her compliment. My horn felt as if it were on fire as the dome around us shimmered with the force of the bullets impacting with it, the stress of the magic working on my body. I bent over double as even more bullets were fired, and then suddenly the pain in my head subsided a little and the sound of bullets firing stopped. I glanced up, still maintaining the shield.

Now seven ponies stood grinning around us. They all wore the same black barding that the three from earlier had, that I was now wearing, and they wielded a variety of weapons, from excellently maintained submachine guns to standard 10mm pistols and rusty machetes. They had stopped firing - they knew we were trapped. My magic kept us safe for now but all they had to do was wait for my force field to fade and they could pump us full of so many holes. They didn’t even need to waste any energy or bullets now - just maintaining the barrier was taxing my now weakened magic.

One of them knocked on the translucent wall. “Having fun in there? Maybe you two want to have some alone time before we kill you? Go ahead."

Soft Step growled at them and I scowled darkly as sweat dripped down my face. The earth pony just laughed and stepped back, dropping and pulling a cigarette from a pouch on his leg. He ducked his head down next to the fire to light the thing started to puff on it. The others had all adopted more casual poses as well, although they all still had their weapons to hand. This was a game for them now, to see how long I could keep going.

I angled my head to look at Soft Step. If looks could kill then all these ponies would be dead by now - the armored mare beside me looked livid, rather than terrified as I was. I had half a plan, but I couldn’t communicate it to her without giving it away to our enemies. I had to rely on her being quick and capitalizing on what I was going to do.

My body continued to protest as I increased the magic to the shield, solidifying it further for my next action. The strain was great, but it was nothing to what came next. I screamed in pain as forced the shield to expand with an impressive speed. The pain coming from my horn was enormous and I was drenched in sweat, but as the shield grew rapidly bigger it slammed into the unprepared ponies around us. I felt something pop in my head and the shield vanished, but the seven attackers were still sent staggering back, dropping their weapons from the force of the wall of magic hitting them like a brick wall.

Seven weapons fell to the ground.

Seven weapons rose again, wrapped in yellow magic.

Seven ponies cried out in pain as their own weapons were turned on them by a furious Soft Step.
The roar of gunfire filled my ears and suddenly I felt weak and lightheaded as the adrenaline that had been keeping me going started to fade. My horn felt numb and my vision swam as I tried to concentrate on staying upright. My legs buckled under me and I fell to the ground. The sounds around me faded as my vision did, my tired mind welcoming the returning darkness as I blacked out.


Level Up!
New Perk: Commando -- Experience is the best teacher, and you’ve learnt a lot about your new weapon. Your chance to hit in S.A.T.S is increased by 25% when you use any rifle, shotgun or carbine type weapon.


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 (They're good.)

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

Any criticism is welcome and encouraged.