• 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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6
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Chapter 6 - Leaving

Chapter 6 - Leaving

"Let’s go, let’s go!"

Day 2

The sounds of an active town woke me from my deep slumber.

I’d slept straight through the night, regaining the strength that my experiences of the past few days had drained from me, but now the sound of the other ponies in the common room preparing for the day ahead and moving out started to rouse me. I lay with my eyes closed, still half asleep, as I listened to the room empty, catching snippets of a few conversations as ponies walked past me.

“-heard Ramtar is completely impassable now, anomalies everywhere-”

“-all over the west territories and the Rangers are going crazy trying to push them back-”

“-rescued Nimble just before it hit, it’s a wonder they made it back.”

I smiled lightly. Although I was unsure about the details of the first two I knew that last snippet was referring to Haze and I rescuing Nimble. It felt good rescuing somepony after a life of enslaving ponies in similar situations. I hoped I would get a chance to see the orange pony again before I left.

Eventually the sounds of movement died down and I opened my eyes to find an empty room greeting me. I rolled over on my bed and glanced at the floor around me. My gaze briefly passed over a pair of saddlebags beside my bed before suddenly what I was seeing hit my tired mind and I did a double take, gasping as I realised that I wasn’t seeing things. My, the ones that Soft Step had taken, saddlebags were sitting right there on the floor as if they’d never been missing.

Snapping fully awake, I levitated the saddlebags up onto the bed in front of me as I pulled myself up into a sitting position. A quick rummage through them confirmed that almost everything, save for a single bottle of water and a can of food, was accounted for. I felt unreasonably happy as I shed the saddlebags that Death Toll had given me and slipped my ones back on, shifting the few supplies the pony had also lent me into them. They were dirtier and much more worn, but somehow felt right.

A thought rose in my mind and I retrieved the memory orb I had acquired from the shack outside the Rim. As I considered the smooth orb I recalled how in reality I had only retrieved the orb not three days ago, and yet it felt like much more - having learnt and experienced much since that time.

I knew was safe here now, or at least I hoped I was, but I was slightly hesitant to dive into the memory, remembering how my last experience with a memory orb had ended. I glanced around the common room again. The beds were all empty and I couldn’t even hear any sound from the bar next door. It was just me and probably Earnest in the bar and if someone wanted me dead they would probably have killed me by now.

But if someone wanted to, there was no-one around to stop them, thought another part of my brain.

I cursed myself for being paranoid as glanced around over my shoulder again, half expecting some crazy shotgun-wielding pony to be aiming at me. I knew that if I didn’t look now when I had the chance I might not get another, and so I allowed my curiosity to overcome my caution and allowed myself to be absorbed into the memory.

~ooO Ooo~

The sounds of rushing wind and jolting metal assaulted my ears as I settled into the new body the orb gave me. My host was an earth pony wearing some sort of barding and sitting in what appeared to be a simple metal train car with other ponies, all wearing identical dark green barding that my host presumably also wore, sitting around the tables in the car. Through the simple windows I could see the world flashing by at a frightening speed, largely ignored by the armored ponies, with only a few slumped across their tables and staring out at the scenery.

My host groaned and stretched then collapsed back in his seat.

“All these private sleeper cars on this train and here we are crowded and cramped together. It’s not fair!” He complained to the pony sitting across from him.

“Relax, those sleeper cars are the reason we’re here. It’s an easy escort job and then we get leave. Would you rather be out on the front lines?”

“Well when you put it that way...” My host reluctantly conceded.

The cart was suddenly thrown into darkness and several ponies looked about in surprise as lights on the tunnel wall illuminated them for brief seconds.

“Where ARE we going anyway?” My host asked in the darkness. “They never even told us.”

“None of your business.” A gruff voice from the back of the cart responded. “We just gotta make sure this train gets there safely.”

“Yessir.” Was the half-hearted response from my host before he sank down onto his table.

The train continued on its journey as my host brooded, light filling the cart again as it emerged from the tunnel. Eventually I could feel the transport slowing and hear the sound of the brakes pulling us to a stop. The sounds of shouting ponies came from outside the train and the uniformed ponies within the train, including my host, prepared to disembark, pulling heavy saddlebags down from racks above their seats and pulling them on.

My host pulled his on and made his way down the middle of the passenger cart to the doorway. We stepped down from the cart and I was taken aback as I recognised the area.

We were standing inside the compound that I had first seen when I entered The Zone. The same railroad led down the center of the compound, my host stood directly across from the same large office building I recognised from before and I knew that if he turned and looked to his right, in the direction we’d come from, I would be able to see the same large metal gates that acted as the entrance to the compound.

Of course the entire compound was much more alive in the past. I could see many ponies walking between the small buildings, a few wearing pristine white lab coats and carrying clipboards. Some such ponies hurried past my host towards the train and he turned to watch them as they slipped inside the dozen or so expensive-looking carts with darkened windows that the train pulled, trying to catch a glimpse of the cargo within.

I could see nothing and suddenly felt a smack to the back of the head.

“Eyes forward, private.” The gruff pony from before told my host. In the light I could see he was a formidable pony, pale blue with a green helmet to complete his uniform and standing almost a head taller than my host and strong-looking. His build reminded me of Death Toll.

My host snapped his head around to face the office building and rubbed his head where the pony had struck him. The rest of the group who had been on the train trotted out one by one and formed a line with my host across from the office building. The door swung open and a light pink earth pony mare with a green mane trotted out.

“Good afternoon everypony.” She greeted the assembled ponies warmly. As she trotted closer and came to a halt in front she smiled and it struck me how attractive the mare was.

“My name is Red Gala and on behalf of the MAS and MWT staff here I welcome you to Maremont. I’m glad you all made it safely here without losing anything - or anypony!” She added the last point as if it was an afterthought. “We wouldn’t want the enemy getting ahold of the cargo in those carts, it’s very important for our work here in Maremont.”

She smiled again, but it quickly faded. “Now I’ve got some bad news. The leave you were promised has been cancelled.”

The soldiers around me erupted in protest at this while the pretty mare stood patiently, an understanding look on her face, until it died down with a little help from the large blue buck ordering the group to silence. With order restored, she continued.

“Instead you will be journeying with the cargo and I and will be stationed at Ministry labs in the northwest. I’m sorry but we need to ensure that our Ministry facility is properly guarded. Your presence is essential to our safe continuation of research to further the war effort.”

She stomped her hoof to drive this point home and my host nodded wearily, the rest of the soldiers following suit. I could understand their frustration. She seemed mildly pleased with this response and continued with her speech while two unicorns in lab coats walked up next to her.

“As a final precaution we will be asking all of you to provide a few sample memories for security reasons. No permanent damage will be done - our scientists are experts! We just need to make sure none of you are Zebra spies.”

With that she smiled and turned to walk back into the building, beckoning the soldiers to follow her. The unicorns fell into line behind her and the group of soldiers moved towards the building. A pony fell in next to my host and I recognised the pony my host had been sitting with on the train.

“I have a bad feeling about this.”

~ooO Ooo~

The common room in Barn swam back in to view and I silently cursed the timing of these memory orbs, always cutting out just when things were getting interesting.

I rolled off the simple bed and slipped the orb back into my saddlebags, making sure they were secured to my back properly. I stretched my neck, trying to remove some of the cramp of sleeping with the bomb collar on. I still hadn’t found a way to remove it safely. That was priority one straight after leaving the Zone.

I wandered through the doorway of the common room into the bar beyond. The place was almost completely empty.

I was unsure of the time but it couldn’t have been much earlier than it was the day before when Haze and I had arrived at Barn and yet there were no signs of the patrons from yesterday. The only pony present other than myself and Earnest, who was busying himself with a stove behind the bar, was a depressed looking stallion with a cutie mark of a ball of spikes who was drinking from a half-empty bottle of vodka in the corner. I looked away from him and walked up to the bar, taking a seat on one of the dirty stools as the barpony turned to me.

“Good to see you again!” He smiled slightly. “I didn’t expect you back, especially after that storm yesterday - I thought I’d be getting bad news back. But there you were last night, you and Haze and with Nimble as well I heard! Everypony’s going to be happy to hear she’s back safe.”

“Err... thanks.” I responded, trying to ignore his lack of confidence in me. My reaction was probably easy to see, as the beige pony chuckled as he briefly turned back to his stove.

“Don’t worry about it. The Zone is a harsh bitch and she’s killed more experienced ponies than you easily. Especially last night. Storms like that are rare and come straight from the center of the Zone. Heard it took out more than a few ponies caught in the open.”

He pulled a blackened piece of meat from the stove and offered it to me. “Here, only six caps.”

My PipBuck identified it as “Cooked Flesh Meat” and I shyed away from the disgusting lump. “Err.. no thanks. What else is there?”

He shrugged and reached under the bar, pulling out a can of vegetables. “Twenty caps.”

“TWENTY?!” I was shocked at the ridiculous price.

“Take it or leave it. Good supplies aren’t easy to come by and you won’t find a better price. I need to stay in business.

I grumbled but handed over the caps and took the can. “Any longer here and you’ll bleed me dry of caps. Thank the Godesses I’m leaving today.”

“Why’s that?” Earnest raised an eyebrow.

“Are you kidding?” I gasped at him. “This place is insane. At least in the rest of the Wasteland you know how everything works and the fucking air doesn’t try to kill you. I’m going back as soon as possible.”

The balding pony nodded solemnly. “That’s a shame. We could always use another good pony to do some work around here, you and I could have done good business. But I suppose you’ve got some kind of family in a settlement back there you need to get back to, eh?” He looked pointedly at my collar.

I grimaced and swallowed more of the cold vegetables. “Well, actually...”

He interrupted me with a wave of a hoof. “Don’t worry, I know what it’s like when you have to leave your home. You’re right, you should get back to where things are familiar.”

I lowered my eyes as his words brought back the memories of my “home”. All the ponies I had shared my life with were dead and I no longer even had a home. All the feelings I tried to repress days ago came rushing back and I could see all the events of that night as clearly as when they had happened. The clashing of thunder as their bodies fell lifeless to the floor and the feeling of the rain as their blood joined it in the mud. I felt empty and could feel myself on the brink of tears as the pony busied himself with his bar, oblivious to the damage he had just caused with so few words. He seemed as if he were a million miles away.

Suddenly he spoke again and I found myself returned to the present.

“But before you go you could stop in and see Nimble. She wanted to make sure she thanked you in person for going to get her.” He chuckled. “She’s a good girl. A bit spirited, but a good girl.”

I felt a bit of pride rise within me, dulling my sense of loss a little. That was one good thing that I’d done since losing everything. I smiled.

“Thanks. Could you let me know where she is?”

*** *** ***

Nimble’s home was a on the second floor of one of the old office buildings of Barn. The orange earth pony was repairing her tattered-looking barding when I entered the ramshackle quarters. From behind I was able to see a barely visible scar running down her hind leg, all that remained of her injury of the day before. The power of healing potions, and presumably spells, was impressive.

Following the scar up led me to her smooth flank with spring cutie mark and pink tail swishing back and forth as she focused on her work. I found myself admiring the pony and glanced away. I recovered my composure and coughed loudly.

“Hello?”

She turned from her work and smiled upon seeing me. “Buckler, you came. I was hoping you would. Come in.” I started stepping in.. “Um. As long as that thing is safe.” She was looking uncertainly at my bomb collar.

“Don’t worry about it, it’s safe.” Yeah, as long as the detonator wasn’t found by some inquisitive pony, picked up by an animal, wasn’t off- that was enough thinking about that. “How’s your leg?”

She wiggled it in answer to my question. “Fine now. The healing potions fixed it up but I’m still supposed to be resting.” Her disdainful tone made it clear she didn’t think she needed any rest. “I wanted to thank you for saving me. I don’t think I would have made it if not for you and Haze showing up.”

I could feel my face going red as she smiled thankfully and brushed her wild mane over her ear. “You should be thanking Death Toll and Haze, I was just doing what I was told. Where is Haze anyway?” I tried to change topic.

She walked closer to me. “He already came and went. All the Loyalists are out scouting out the area.”

“Loyalists?” I hadn’t heard that before.

She laughed. “Oh that’s right, I forgot you’re a newbie. Loyalty is the group that owns Barn, run by Death Toll. The Loyalists make sure everything around here runs like it’s supposed to. Haze is one of them, and I’m supposed to be as well.”

That explained why the bar was empty “Supposed to?”

“Let’s just say I’m not very ‘loyal’.” She smiled slyly. “That storm has got Death Toll worried. He likes to know everything that happens around here, that and those wolves are all over the place are causing all sorts of trouble for him. I seem to remember you bravely killed one of them for me as well. Thanks.”

“Err.. no problem.” All the compliments from the attractive mare was making me uncomfortable. “I’m glad you’re okay. I just came by to see how you were before I leave.”

“Leave?” The mares tone was disappointed.

“You’re going.” A voice from behind me suddenly stated and I jumped, turning to see Soft Step standing behind me, her blue eyes considering me steadily.

“Oh hey Sis.” Nimble greeted her breezily before focusing on me. “Yeah, why are you going?” She misunderstood Soft Step’s statement as a question.

The word ‘Sis’ slammed home like a hammer to the face and tried to stay calm. “Oh you know. The Zone is really too... weird and dangerous. I need to get out of here and back where I belong.” I glanced between them. They weren’t really related, were they?

“What are you talking about? You saved me, the Zone is no match for you! You can stay at Barn with the rest of us.”

“No, he’s right.” Soft Step said calmly. “He doesn’t belong here and he should go. Here.” She beckoned to the door. “I’ll see you out.” She turned and walked out.

I hesitated. What was this pony planning now? I was sure she was going to try something, but Nimble was watching and I wasn’t sure Soft Step wanted her getting involved.

“Okay... sure.” I started for the door after her as Nimble’s face fell.

I followed Soft Step as we left the building and prepared myself for some sort of attack, wrapping the rifle across my back in magic for a quick draw. The mare wasn’t wearing barding for the first time since I’d met her and for the first time I was able to see her cutie mark clearly, a golden winged horseshoe. Hopefully her lack of armour would make it easier to disable her if things turned bad.

We reached the exit of the building and she turned and faced me. I started back and started to draw my rifle but she raised a hoof.

“Wait. I don’t want to fight.” I relaxed a little but didn’t remove my grip on my weapon. “Look, slaver.” My eyes narrowed and she corrected herself. “Buckler. I don’t know why you helped my sister but I want you to know that I’m grateful for it.”

She paused and looked at the ground. “I captured you and brought you here because I was an idiot and believed that those slavers would be fair. I’ve put you in mortal danger and you repaid me by rescuing my family.” She looked up now and I could see that she looked on the verge of tears. She sniffed and wiped her face with her hoof and regained a little of her composure. “So I’ve decided to help you now. I’m going to escort you to the edge of the Zone and get you home. As a thankyou and a goodbye.”

I was taken aback. I wasn’t expecting such an offer and her sudden display of emotion had left me unsure of how to treat her. I still wasn’t sure I could trust her but she seemed genuinely grateful for me rescuing her sister. A cynical part of my mind reminded me that it was Death Toll who had given me the job and wondered if maybe he hadn’t done this on purpose, to get Soft Step and I closer.

I ignored this for a moment and weighed my options. On one hoof I didn’t have any experience in the Zone on my own, having somepony guide me who knew what they were doing might be a good idea. On the other, I was wary of the pony who had attacked me many times already and who had tried to sell me to slavers. But then I had better weapons now, and barding. She didn’t have an upper hand any more.

“Okay.” I relented. “But you go up ahead at all times. I don’t want more repeats of last time.”

She smiled wryly, returning to her old self. “Don’t worry little Buckler. I won’t hurt you, I owe you now.” She walked past me away from the door. “Wait by the gate out. I’ll be there soon, there’s just a few things I need to take care of first.

*** *** ***

As I arrived at the gate an impressive sight greeted me. Several ponies were standing around two corpses of the wooden wolves I had seen over the past few days. A couple of the ponies wore the black and red barding that seemed to single out the Loyalty ponies while the others wore a mish-mash of barding and weapons.

“Did you kill them?” I asked one of the ponies as I approached.

“Of course.” Another Loyalty pony answered with pride in his voice. “If Death Toll doesn’t want them then I reckon we can find a good buyer for them.”

“What the fuck are they is what I want to know.” Another pony asked. “I’ve never seen nothing like ‘em before.”

“I’ve heard some of the older ones call them Timberwolves. Apparently they’ve seen them before, just not this many and this far away from the center of the Zone.” The first Loyalty pony replied.

“Whatever they are they’re tough to kill.” A unicorn mare chimed in.

“Not so hard that a few armor-piercing rounds won’t take them down.”

I left them to their discussion, walking a little way from the gate and sitting down to wait for Soft Step, staring up at the cloud-covered sky. It looked far more violent than usual, although not as violent as during the storm of the previous night.

My guide appeared not long after I’d sat down. Once again she was dressed in her faded brown barding and looked ready to take on the journey ahead of us. At her look I stood and we set off, her in front and me following behind. It was reminiscent of our journey into the Zone, only this time I felt slightly more secure.

Slightly.

We made good progress at first, traversing the gap between Barn and the slaver village we had been to before in little time. Occasionally we stopped when Soft Step thought she saw or felt something and spent several minutes throwing metal about, looking for an anomaly. The few we found were easy to map out and avoid, however once Soft Step had to grab my barding with her teeth and pull to stop me walking straight into one that neither of us had seen. I thanked her, my heart pounding in my ears at the close call, and we started to go around it.

“Don’t worry about it, little Buckler. Walking into an anomaly is the worst thing you can do. At best you have a few seconds to back the fuck out, at worst you’ll die instantly. It depends what type they are.”

“How many types are there?”

“Dozens, hundreds maybe. We don’t know because some of them do similar things. The most common ones are the Shockers, you’ve seen they’ll do some real damage, and the Grav Fields. If you walk into one of them you can kiss the world goodbye, they’ll either rip out your insides or launch you so far in the air that they won’t even recognise your body when you hit the floor.”

I squirmed at the thought of this. “I’m definitely glad I’m getting out of here. I’ll take Taint or radiation anyday.”

“Oh we have that too.” Soft Step said casually. “Usually you have to go into the red regions to find serious Taint levels, but radiation is everywhere.”

“Oh that’s good.” I said, sarcasm dripping from my voice. “How much further is it? The sooner we’re out of here the better.”

“There.” Soft Step pointed and in the distance I could once again see the gated compound in the distance. “I heard the Steel Rangers have moved out to regroup at their headquarters after that storm but we still need to be careful.”

We approached the compound warily and looked through one of the cracks in the compound’s north wall. Soft Step was right, the compound beyond was empty of the heavily armoured ponies of the other day and my EFS wasn’t giving me any clue of danger so we tentatively made our way to the center of the compound courtyard..

Standing there brought with it a strange feeling of familiarity. It was as if one part of my mind knew I had never stood here before, another part of my mind insisted I had. I made a mental note to be more careful with memories. Who knew what damage they could do.

As we passed the center of the compound Soft Step turned to me. “Before we go on I need to check something. Stay here for a while, I won’t be too long.”

“What?” I was suspicious “What do you mean you have to check something? I thought we were leaving as soon as possible.”

“We are.” She assured me. “Straight after I do this one thing. Don’t get in trouble while I’m gone and hide if somepony you don’t recognise comes past.”

Before I had a chance to respond she turned and walked off, exiting again through the back gate and turning left out of my vision.

“Fine!” I yelled. “I’ll just wait here then! It’s not like I had anything to do anyway!”

I realised I was yelling at nothing and stopped, grumbling. Zone ponies were crazy, I decided. One second they were trying to kill you, the next they were helping you and the next they were leaving you alone for an unknown time.

I looked about at the surrounding compound. There was no use sitting here waiting, it was time to look about.

A quick check in some of the smaller buildings revealed that a lot of the compound had already been cleared out. Entire rooms had been stripped entirely bare, leaving obviously less faded patches of wall in the shape of fittings. Frustrated, I moved away from the smaller buildings to survey the large office block. I wasn’t sure if it would yield greater results but at least it would keep me busy until Soft Step returned.

The lowest floor was outfitted as a reception area. Broken chairs dotted the lobby and a large desk spanned the length of one wall. Slipping around the side of the desk revealed it to be bare, save for a small safe set into the wall.

The safe had several dents in it, presumably from frustrated ponies unable to open it, but still seemed largely intact. I slipped my lockpicking tools from my bags and set about trying to pick the lock. It was hard, harder than any lock I’d practiced on before, but after going through two bobby pins I heard the lock click and the safe door swung open.

The safe proved to contain very little. A few dozen pre-war bits, not worth much, and a few clipboards of useless admin information. Disappointing.

The rest of the room seemed empty, so I made my way towards the stairs in the corner of the room. I followed them up to the first floor and emerged in a corridor. A faded sign on the wall directly in front of me informed me that heading to the right would lead me to “Processing” while heading left would lead me to “Maintenance”.

“Processing” sounded more interesting, so I headed right. I found myself passing through several rooms full of complex looking equipment, none of which seemed within my capabilities to use. One of the rooms seemed built as a vault, with reinforced steel lined walls. The way the doors of the vault were blown inwards and dented, one of them hanging off its hinges and with a barely visible blast mark, suggested that they hadn’t been reinforced as they could have been.

Empty shelves lined the walls inside the vault and each shelf looked designed to hold something precious, they were padded and had small circular indents a few inches wide. A thought came to me and I levitated out one of my memory orbs. Sure enough the little crystal sphere sat perfectly in the padded shelf.

I briefly wondered who would be so desperate to get to a room full of very old memory orbs that they’d be willing to blow open a reinforced vault.

I backed out of the empty room and huffed. Although this was passing the time I had hoped my scavenging would be more fruitful. The ponies of the Zone seemed to have almost completely emptied this place of anything of note. Perhaps this was why food was so expensive here, I thought. If everything had been as picked clean then new resources must be valuable. I wondered whether the most dangerous regions of the Zone had also been picked clean, had the ponies here been that brave?

I ascended the flight of stairs once again, hoping to find something. As I passed a window heading up I heard a noise down in the courtyard. I looked out, hoping that Soft Step was back and that we were leaving.

Instead the courtyard was filling with ponies, some armoured but all carrying weapons. At least a score of ponies stood down in the courtyard, some lounging about and some talking to a formidable looking buck in barding who seemed to be giving orders.

None of them had noticed me, and although my Eyes Forward Sparkle was reading the ponies as yellow for neutral I levitated out my scoped hunting rifle just in case.

A noise from behind me snapped me from the ponies and I turned, aiming down the scope as I did so. I was surprised to find a shocked orange face mere inches from my barrel.

“Sorry.” Nimble squeaked. She was wearing the light barding from earlier and had a submachine gun slung across her back.

“What in Equestria are you doing?” I hissed at her. “Why are you sneaking up on me?! Why are you here?!” I lowered my weapon.

“I wanted to make sure you made it out okay.” She replied, her confident tone returning now there wasn’t a gun in her face. “I saw Soft Step leave you.” She brushed her pink mane away from her face and huffed in annoyance. “And saw that lot come in after you so I followed to come get you.” She indicated through the window. “They’re trouble, especially with me and Sis around. We need to go before they find out we’re here.”

“But... how did you get in without them seeing you?” The ponies outside were well within view of the entrance to the building.

She smirked and wiggled her orange flank at me to show off her cutie mark and tossed her head back towards the floor behind her. “Special skill, I climbed up the side.” I nodded slowly, my mind temporarily preoccupied by the flank being wiggled at me before I caught myself. I turned to hide my embarrassment and looked back out of the window at the ponies.

“So what are they? Slavers?” They were far too well armed to be raiders, or at least the type of raiders that I knew. The Zone was different, but surely raiders would be the same, wouldn’t they?

“Sort of. You just need to know that they’re going to kill us if they see us.”

Something didn’t feel quite right about the way she said that, as if she were avoiding the question. My mind instantly snapped at itself the moment I thought that. I shouldn’t be doubting her, she had come to make sure I didn’t get shot.

“So how are we getting out without getting killed? I don’t think I can get out the same way you got in.”

She nodded. “Don’t worry. We’re going to go find Sis and get out a safer way. Follow me and stay quiet, okay?”

I nodded and followed her down the stairs. As we reached the ground floor Nimble slowed and ducked down and I followed suit. We were still within the stairwell, but I still didn’t want one of the ponies outside spotting us. We followed the stairs down another floor and emerged in the dim light of the basement.

“This way.” The orange mare whispered, leading me down a narrow corridor. “Light up if you can, it’s going to get dark.”

Suddenly another set of stairs appeared and I could see that what she said was true, the light from the small windows around the top of the walls of the basement was rapidly fading as we moved down again to some sort of sub-basement. I lit my horn with silver light, throwing shadows around the walls of the dank room we now stood in. Several pipes climbed the walls and in the center of the room sat a metal plate.

I had seen a plate like this before, it was the same kind that had blocked the entrance to the pipe that Soft Step and I had used to enter the Zone. I suddenly had a very good idea where the pony had gone. Nimble started to move to lift the plate, but I held out a hoof to stop her. Wrapping the cover in my silver magic I lifted it to reveal a spiral staircase leading down into the black hole of the sewer below.

“Thanks. I don’t think I could have lifted that all by myself.” Nimble said in a playful tone. When I opened my mouth to protest she laughed and walked past me, descending into the darkness below. “Yeah, I know. Come on.”

I quickly followed the laughing earth pony. As I stepped down the spiral stairs I turned to replace the cover, in the slight chance that anypony came down here after us. I slid the plate over the hole above me and released my magic and the light of the world blinked out, shrouding us in darkness.


Level Up!
New Perk: Herd Instinct -- Your upbringing means you prefer to be part of a group than on your own. You gain +2 Endurance while you have one or more additional party members.


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.