• Published 20th May 2016
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The Storyteller: Fallout Equestria - Dawn Flower

Join the Storyteller as he explains the lore of the Equestrian Wasteland.

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Sparkle Cola Spectacular

After the Storyteller had finished speaking, there was a long, drawn-out silence between the two ponies and spritebot, just standing there, not saying anything. Nobody moved at all until Buck Shot finally decided to speak up again. “So, errr… does that mean you’re leaving for now?” He wondered.

“What? No.” The Storyteller responded, in a surprised manner. “I was just about to tell you about the history of Sparkle Cola.”

“Well, yeah, but you also said that that was a ‘story for another day’,” Buck reasoned.

There was then another long silence before the Storyteller spoke up again. “Oh, right,” he said, in realisation. “Sorry about that. I’m used to telling just one story at a time and then moving on to where I need to be for my next one, so I always end a story leading into the next one by saying ‘But that is a story for another day…’ It’s a bad habit but I can’t seem to break it.”

Buck Shot simply gave him an incredulous look in response.

The Storyteller coughed awkwardly into his hoof to clear his throat, creating a bit of static through his visor as he did so. “So then,” he continued. “You still interested in hearing the story of Sparkle Cola?”

Buck Shot suddenly perked up at that. “Of course. I freakin’ love Sparkle Cola.”

The Storyteller smiled underneath his helmet. “Yeah, you and just about everypony in the wasteland. Did you know that its popularity is part of the reason why we use bottle caps as currency? You see, after the war ended, water became the most valuable resource in the wasteland. Everyone both wanted and needed it, and would do just about anything to get it. That might also be how the first raider gangs sprung up, but that’s neither here nor there.

“The problem was that it was difficult to lug around gallons of water everywhere, so they eventually started using just the bottle caps to represent the value of the water. Sparkle Cola bottle caps are plentiful enough that they represent a significant monetary worth, while also rare enough to prevent inflation, since the technology used to create them was lost with the war, so no more can be created, which maintains that there are only a limited amount of caps circulating…”

“You’re rambling,” Buck Shot cut him off. Next to the power armored pony, PINK-E also turned towards him and started whining, as if giving her partner a knowing look.

With a slight glance towards her, the Storyteller simply cleared his throat again before continuing. “Right, sorry about that. Anyway, just sit back and prepare to hear the tale of the most successful fruit-flavoured soft drink ever made. The story of Sparkle Cola goes all the way back to before the war. Back then, there were all sorts of fruits and vegetables, like apples, oranges, pears, cabbages, and yes, even carrots, for which Sparkle Cola gets its delectable taste; and there were entire families of farmers dedicated to each one.

“The Apple Family, in particular, had what was probably the largest monopoly on apples and apple accessories in all of Equestria, with everything from apple juice to apple pies, apple cobblers, apple turnovers, apple dumplings and more. Name a market and they were in it.”

The Storyteller’s rambling was suddenly cut off by the sound of Buck Shot’s rumbling stomach. “Do you mind if you skip this part?” the unarmoured unicorn spoke up, with an embarrassed blush on his face. “You’re just making me hungry and I don’t have any food on me right now.”

“Oh, right, sorry again.” The Storyteller apologised. “Anyway, their monopoly was good for them, but hard on the other farmers trying to get by. That’s where the tale of one lowly carrot farmer enters the story. There are some people who think that it was Twilight Sparkle who created Sparkle Cola – what with them both sharing the same name, and people taking Occam’s Razor to it – but they’re mistaken. The truth is, no one remembers exactly who it was who first created Sparkle Cola; another secret lost to time it seems. The only thing known for certain is that they were a carrot farmer from back before the war. With their business going through a rough patch and struggling to stay afloat, they needed a new product to boost their sales and fast, so they decided to break into an untapped market: soft drinks.

“Oh sure, the Apple Family had their own products in that market too, though it was primarily apple juice for the kids and apple cider for the adults, with nothing in between, and what soft drinks there were already were just generic sodas that you’d buy whenever you were thirsty without really thinking about it. With that in mind, this carrot farmer decided to create a carrot flavoured soft drink, to appeal to ponies of all ages. It couldn’t just be any soft drink though, in order to really stand out, and it had to be more than just carrot flavoured juice.

“The exact recipe for Sparkle Cola has also been lost to time; sure there are some people who try make it themselves, but every one of them are missing that one secret ingredient that makes Sparkle Cola so delicious, which of course makes any bottles still found from before the war all the more valuable.”

That bit of info made Buck Shot smile, knowing that he could charge more for these bottles now.

“The only ingredients that anypony knows for absolute certain are carrots and magical radiation. You ever notice that while you’re drinking the stuff, that you’re Geiger Counter suddenly starts beeping?” This was just a rhetorical question, though, as the Storyteller could see that Buck Shot didn’t have a Geiger Counter on him. Who knows? Maybe it was in the shop. “Don’t worry, though. The soda’s not dangerous to drink. You’d have to drink an entire factory’s worth of the stuff in order for it to be able to affect you like that. Although, it’s so addictive that I’m sure there are some people out there who have tried. There are even some out there who think that Sparkle Cola is the original source of the magical radiation used in megaspells, although the idea that the most destructive weapons imaginable started out as a way to make soft drinks taste better is just a little too farfetched to be true. Nevertheless, the recipe gave birth to one of the biggest beverages ever known to ponykind, and it took off like a rocket. Side note: there actually used to be a short Sparkle Cola promotion that came in rocket cans, with a slogan that read, ‘A taste so great, it’s out of this world’…”

“Rambling,” Buck Shot repeated, while simply giving him another incredulous look.

“Right,” was all the Storyteller responded with, at first, with a small nod of his head. “Anyway, with the recipe perfected, it was ready to be released into the world. At first, its creator was hoping that it would at least make enough in sales until their next harvest, to keep their business afloat, but boy-oh-boy, did it go so much farther than that. Once the public got their hooves on it and tried that delectable taste for the first time, sales took off like… well, like a rocket.”

Buck Shot simply gave him a flat look, arching an eyebrow in response.

Clearing his throat a third time, the Storyteller continued. “Yes, well that was just the beginning for this soft drink. In just a few short months, Sparkle Cola was everywhere: on billboards, in casinos, playgrounds, schools, even on suits of power armor; and soda machines lined virtually every street in the country. There were so many bottles of the stuff made that we’re still finding them even now two hundred years later. In short, the stuff was everywhere. No matter where in Equestria you were, you could hardly go a day without at least seeing it somewhere.”

“Well yeah,” Buck Shot spoke up. “Sparkle Cola’s the best soda there is. No other drinks short of alcohol can even compare.”

“That’s not necessarily true,” the Storyteller responded, raising his hoof up in a gesture as he spoke. “There is one other soft drink which, while still nowhere near as successful as Sparkle Cola, still had quite a large popularity before and during the war, particularly around the Las Pegasus area. I’m speaking of course of Sunrise Sarsaparilla. It’s the only drink that could effectively be called Sparkle Cola’s rival. Every great thing needs one, after all.

“Whereas Sparkle Cola was made with carbonated carrot juice, Sunrise Sarsaparilla was a root-beer-type carbonated beverage; it also doesn’t have any trace amounts of radiation, like its rival. Their slogan was, “Sunrise Sarsaparilla: It gives you extra sass”.

“The ‘sassy’ beverage has been around even longer than Sparkle Cola, though, dating back to before the war. However, that far back, it was simply known as sarsaparilla. It didn’t get a proper commercial name until Sparkle Cola made its debut, and the company needed a better way to continue competing against the breakout hit. Though like I said, while it was popular, it was still nowhere near the level of Sparkle Cola.

“The Sunrise Sarsaparilla company had to have Princess Celestia herself on their cans just to stay in the game. I’m not entirely sure whether the company had the Princess’ permission to do this or not, but back then, it wasn’t really an issue. The solar alicorn never made any public appearances after the disaster at the Battle of Shattered Hoof Ridge, but that’s another story altogether.”

Buck Shot somehow got the feeling that the Storyteller would end up trying to tell him that story at some point anyway, but ignored it for now. “So, Sunrise Sarsaparilla rivalled Sparkle Cola in popularity?” He asked.

“In the grand scheme of things, not really.” The Storyteller answered him. “Sunrise Sarsaparilla only had their one flavour brand, while Sparkle Cola became so big, that they eventually started making other versions of it and many different types of promotions, like Sparkle Cola Quartz, Sparkle Cola Victory, and the aforementioned rocket can; slight variations of flavour, with new labels. Perhaps the best known of these variations, however, was Sparkle Cola RAD, which was made with radishes instead of carrots. There were some who thought that the radiation added was the secret to why Sparkle Cola tasted so good, so they reasoned that if they added even more, then it would taste even better. These bottles intentionally added so much mostly harmless radiation that it literally glows. In fact, if I had to guess, they were probably just shy of the lethal dose to get it passed standards and practices. Just one small sip was like a buck to the face. In fact, that was even their slogan. While it can be difficult for some to finish an entire bottle, though, they’re still just as, if not more addictive than the standard bottles of Sparkle Cola. Perhaps it’s in the radiation, after all; ‘Uranium Fever’ and all that.

“Sparkle Cola RAD’s are rare enough, since the promotion didn’t last long, and it happened to come out around the time when the war was coming to an end, so not that many bottles of the stuff were made. If you happen to come across some out there in the wastes, you’re probably better off holding on to it. There are some out there – mostly addicts – who would be willing to pay a lot of caps for them. RAD’s are so chocked full of radioactive elements that there are even those who have taken to using them to make grenades, and I can tell you from personal experience that they pack quite a punch; a lot worse than a buck to the face, I’ll tell you that.

“However, while each of these promotions were successful in their own right, ponies still never got tired of the original recipe. In fact, their success had reached such levels, that in the final days of the old world, the company was planning an entire theme park based around the soft drink, called ‘Sparkle World’. However, due to issues like copyright on the name, and the looming megaspell threat, it was never fully realised. The ruins of the park still exist out there, but instead of fun times for the whole family, it’s now a hive of scum and villainy, full of the worst raiders imaginable.

“I made the trip up there myself a while ago, and I’ll tell you now, that place is a lost cause. Not even a wasteland hero would be able to redeem that place, short of killing every raider that’s set up shop there, and even that would be difficult, with how deep they’ve dug themselves in there, tarnishing what was supposed to be a symbol of fun and peace and turning it into something ugly. Truly, a sad and tragic end for what started with such noble intentions.” The Storyteller suddenly paused and looked down, as if in thought. “I’m sure that there’s a metaphor for the world in there somewhere.”

When he was finished, he then stood up straight so that he could wrap things up. “And there you have it; the story of Sparkle Cola,” the Storyteller finished. “So, friend, after hearing all of that, now that you know all about it, back to my original question: how much for that bottle of Sparkle Cola you’re selling?”

“Oh, uhh…” Buck Shot stuttered, caught off guard by the question. “Well, uhhmm…” he started, levitating one of the bottles out. “How about… sixty… three caps?” He came out with, thinking it would be a reasonable price after what he had just heard.

“Sounds reasonable,” the Storyteller responded after a moment. “I would have gone as high as eighty caps myself.”

At that, Buck Shot suddenly switched expression to a sly smile. “Alright then; eighty caps or nothing.” He said, now sounding a lot more confident.

There was complete silence on the factory floor for about ten seconds, before the power armored pony responded. “Heh, a shrewd business tactic there,” he said in a straight tone, “but an effective one.” Buck could then only assume that the Steel Ranger was smirking slightly underneath his helmet. “Alright then, he you go.” He said, levitating a bunch of caps out from somewhere and floated them over to the wasteland unicorn.

With the caps in hoof, Buck Shot then floated the Sparkle Cola bottle over to the power armored unicorn, who took a hold of it in his own magical aura, the colour going from dark green to silver. “Pleasure doing business with you,” Buck said, with a smile on his face. With the business transaction over, Buck then floated the other bottle out, took off the bottle cap, and chugged it down, enjoying the taste of the carrot flavoured drink as it made its way down his throat, it tasting even better to him now that he knew its story.

The Storyteller kept his own bottle floating in front of him for a moment, and when Buck Shot thought that he was about to remove his helmet so that he drink it himself – and so Buck Shot could finally see his face – he instead simply floated it over towards PINK-E beside him. “I think I’ll save this for later,” he said. “Hey, PINK-E, you mind holding on to this for me?” With a mechanical whine of affirmation from the pink spritebot, a small compartment opened up on her front, and the Storyteller placed the Sparkle Cola bottle inside.

“So,” the Storyteller spoke up, facing Buck Shot again. “You got anything else to trade?”

Finishing off his Sparkle Cola, he tossed the empty bottle away and put the bottle cap into his saddlebags before responding. “No, that’s about the only thing I have to trade at the moment. All I’ve got now is my shotgun, barding, and a bit of water, all of which I need to survive.”

“Throughout my journey’s, I’ve learned that the wasteland is a big and dangerous place.” The Storyteller spoke up again. “Leather barding and a combat shotgun won’t protect you from much out here when you’re all by yourself.”

Buck Shot then cracked a sarcastic smile. “Yeah, well we don’t all have a suit of power armor to protect us.”

The Storyteller seemed to crack a smile underneath his helmet at that. “Power armor.” He stated simply, with obvious intrigue laced in his voice. “Now there’s a subject with an interesting history. Originally conceived by the Ministry of Wartime Technology, with the goal of turning a single soldier into a walking tank. The first models were so advanced at the time that even a single soldier in one of those suits could completely turn the tide of battle so that…”

“Uhh, sorry there,” Buck Shot interrupted him, raising his hoof up to stop him. “I appreciate the history lesson on where Sparkle Cola comes from, as well as the caps, but I think I’ll be on my way now, if you don’t mind.”

There was another short silence between them before the Storyteller spoke again. “Oh, alright, I understand. I’ll just be on my way then. Take care, stranger.” He then turned around to walk away and leave. “Oh, and watch out for the Hellhounds,” he mentioned casually, over his shoulder.

The mention of Hellhounds suddenly made Buck Shot tense up and his eyes widened. “D-d-did you just say… ‘Hellhounds’?” He stuttered out.

“Hmmm,” the power armored unicorn uttered, stopping and turning back to look at him, seeming not to notice the other pony’s worry. “Oh, didn’t you know? This whole area is in Hellhound territory. That’s probably another reason why there’s no one else scavenging out here.”

Buck Shot still looked worried. “B-but I didn’t see any Hellhounds when I first came out here,” he tried to reason.

“Well, this area’s right on the fringe of Hellhound territory, so they only make their way out here at night, and the Sun’s just started to go down, so they should be popping up soon. Literally. Hellhounds are known for their tunnelling skills, and could pop up right underneath your feet and strike at you before you even realise they’re there; and with how sharp their claws are, all they need is one swipe to completely take your head off. You’d be dead before you even have time to process it.” He recited this like it was the most casual thing in the world.

Noticing the non-powered armored unicorn pale at those words, the Storyteller then added, “Oh, but don’t worry, though. While they are undoubtedly dangerous, Hellhounds are far from the legendary monsters of the wastes that most people think they are. In fact, armed with the knowledge of their lore, a proper understanding of tactics, and… oh, let’s say, a laser rifle to take them out at long range, they actually go down fairly easily, so you shouldn’t worry about them too much.

“Still though, could you imagine walking around all alone through Hellhound territory without being, or at least being with a guy who had all of those things? Boy, I’d sure hate to be that guy.”

Noticing Buck Shot’s face suddenly go from scared to another kind of look, the Storyteller simply turned back around fully so that he was facing away from him again. “Well, I’ll be seeing you around. Come along, PINK-E.”

As the two of them were leaving, the pink spritebot suddenly stopped, turned around, and simply stared back at Buck Shot for a moment before turning back around again and following her partner out.

All alone on the factory floor now, Buck Shot quickly darted his eyes all around himself, the silence around him deafening, and jumped a little when he thought he heard a noise. Suddenly, he broke into a gallop and quickly caught up to the Steel Ranger and spritebot, now outside the Ironshod factory. “So, you were talking about power armor?” Buck said in a hasty tone, as they ran along, side by side. “That sounds like an interesting story.”

“Indeed it is,” the Storyteller spoke up, with a sly smile underneath his helmet, unseen by Buck Shot. “But that is a story for another day…”

Buck Shot just rolled his eyes as they ran.