• Published 1st Aug 2016
  • 2,641 Views, 64 Comments

Fallout: Equestria - Sunny Skies - IMFoalishFace



A Ministry of Awesome agent is awoken from stasis to deal with an attack on the Stable she has been housed in for the past two hundred years.

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Chapter 1: Back from the Grave

Chapter 1: Back From the Grave

Hello.

“My name is Scootaloo, you might know me... (sighs) I'm the vice-president of Stable-Tec. If you’re hearing this, that means Omega-Level Threat Protocols have been enacted and you are... are now face- going to....

“S-sorry..... Just, damn these things!

".....

“All Right... I’m talking to you as vice-president of Stable-Tec. You have been appointed as Overmare of the Stable-Tec life-preserving Stable Number 13. You have been chosen for your sense of loyalty and duty, both to the ponies around you and to this company. And while the Stable-Tec HQ is probably... rightfully... nothing but blasted rubble now, our ideals live on.

“Your Stable has been selected to participate in a vital Ministry of Awesome operation as well as a Stable-Tec social project. The first goal of your Stable, like all others, is to save the lives of the ponies inside. Stable 13 is designed to house a much larger population as well as the assets of the MAw's 'Operation: Windigo'.

"As our only completed Stable in the far north, Stable 13 has to provide for the preservation of the north's crystal ponies along with earth ponies and unicorns. But you also have a higher purpose beyond saving the lives of individual ponies. We here at Stable-Tec and the Ministry of Awesome understand that it doesn’t do ponykind any good to save ourselves now only to annihilate each other later. We must figure out where we went wrong. We must find a better way. And we must be ready to implement it as soon as possible once the Stable doors open. ...And survive what our current leaders have managed to do to Equestria...

"Those damn bastards have ruined the world and driven us to... this.... Fuck all of them.

"I hope your heart's still in the right place, Rainbow Dash.

"Sorry, I'm so sorry. I wish we could have prevented this. D-done better.

"I'm getting off topic, again.

"The designs, instructions, and objectives for your Stable's social project are sealed in your office's safe. Here, I will discuss your Stable's purpose in Operation: Windigo.

"Your Stable has been equipped to house 33 cybernetically altered Shadowbolts in suspended animation. They are tasked with cleansing the world of...... political and social contamination in order to pave way for a better, brighter future; free of the influences of our corrupt past.

"We deserve to be cleansed...

"The Shadowbolts will be kept in stasis until they are awakened by executive command from the Mare of the Ministry of Awesome, Rainbow Dash, at which time they are to be assisted to the best of your abilities in preparation for their mission.

"However, if at any point you believe that there is a threat to the safety and security of the ponies in your charge... as a whole... take any necessary steps to rectify the situation; be it stopping the experiments or breaking protocol and waking the Shadowbolts yourself in a dire situation. In any other circumstances, however, it is crucial that you keep to the directives provided, and keep Stable-Tec appraised of all results as per your instructions.

“Thank you and good luck. May none of this ever have to come to bear..."

[End Recording]


SYSTEM BOOT SUCCESSFUL…

SYSTEMS CHECK COMPLETE = 100% READY

LAUNCHING MOA/STABLE-TEC PIP OS 23.6.012

...

BIOS LOADED... LAUNCHING
REANIMATION PROCEDURE STARTED
SPARK CORE REACTION INITIATED...

Ugh, I did way too much drinking last night…

INITIALIZING...

Ouch, this is the worst case of pins and needles I’ve ever had! And the hangover isn’t helping the situation.

NEURAL FUNCTION STABLE.
BIOLOGICAL FUNCTION STABLE.
LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS CALIBRATED.
CRYO-STASIS DISENGAGED.

ALL SYSTEMS GO.
Nah, I’m not going anywhere.

My entire body felt like a pincushion. A cold, frozen pincushion that was now starting to sting as warmth worked its way back into face and body. The sensations kind of ran a line between pain and relief. Pushing the feelings aside, I force my eyes open.

Ah, there we go: some unidentifiable shapes in a dark blur. I blinked a few times. Ooh, my whole face is numb and tingly. There’s the cybernetic eye giving me something. My other eye was finally focusing, granted a dark steel box isn’t the best place to be trying to get one’s eyes working again. Fortunately, the front of the box was opening up. I could already hear the muffled chaos outside.

The door lifted open to show a filly sitting in front of my would-be tomb. I tried shifting my weight but find I’m suspended from my wings. My legs are attached to dozens of cables, leaving me almost unable to move. I was trapped, Celestia knows where, I couldn’t feel anything in my legs or wings, and I was at the mercy of some child!

Who was in complete terror of me.

Get it together, stupid brain. The filly hasn’t hurt me. She’s just a normal, if scared, unicorn with a fantastically sparkly coat.

I couldn’t see if she had a cutie mark because her flank was covered up with a blue and yellow barding adorned with the number 13. The attire struck me as oddly utilitarian for Equestria.

Blue, yellow, utilitarian, and thirteen; those all meant something together, but my mind was still too frozen to think straight.

‘Wait, stasis and, oh Celestia, it’s on the tip of my tongue… STABLES! This filly is wearing Stable 13 barding and that is where I am; inside Stable 13.’

Shit!

I should wake up in the Shining Armor Memorial Hospital, a horde of specialists easing me out of suspended animation. Maybe some Royal Guards keeping an eye on the proceedings from a distance. If I’m waking up being attended to by dwellers in Stable 13 then that means… Oh, Celestia. I-it’s gone. Pinkie was right. The end came. We failed…

I started shaking uncontrollably, my brain filling with static and feedback from my body. My vision told me that something was sensing an oncoming panic attack. I grit my teeth before letting out a wail. The filly shrank back and there was a fair bit of yelling from outside my field of vision. I didn’t care, I’d lost everything. I started thrashing against my bonds, feeling almost nothing in my legs or wings.

“Let me down!” I screamed.

The filly looked up at me in fear. “Y-y-yes, m-ma’am,” she cowered. “B-b-but please st-top struggling so much, you’ll break something.”

Part of my mind yelled to ignore her and rip my way out of my prison. A logical part of my brain informed me she was right and I should stop acting like a scared foal. I shot the filly a nasty look but stopped moving.

Her horn lit and levitated out a sheet of paper. Looking between her cheatsheet and me, she started removing wires, plugs, hoses, and restraints. At last she removed my exterior power supply and finally focused on the large lever that worked the gantry my wings were attached to. Her face screwed shut with exertion as her horn flared. After a few moments of struggle I heard a jerk and a screech of metal. The filly stopped and took a breath before resuming her efforts. Almost instantly there was another jerk above me and gravity reasserted itself on me with a resounding crash to the floor.

“A-are you alright?” The filly loomed over me as I tried to get my hooves under me.

“How long have we been down?” I asked, dragging myself up. I was hit with a bit of vertigo and had to lean against the inside of the stasis chamber.

“I-I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” I looked up at her and she flinched back. “How long has the Stable been sealed?”

She took a few steps back and started shaking again. “About t-two hundred years, I think.”

I fell to my rump, eyes falling to the floor. “Two hundred years?” The words echoed through my mind, loss and disbelief flooding my thoughts.

“Shadow.”

The ashes of everything I knew wouldn’t be around. My heart might have started beating faster and my breath might have gotten short if it could.

“Shadow.” There was a hoof on my shoulder that gave me a shake. Looking up, I saw five grown ponies. One mare, a young orange earth pony with a sparkly coat, wore the blue and yellow of Stable 13. The other four were images out of a sci-fi horror film; their legs were metal, from their backs sprouted wings with sword blades in place of feathers. Their glowing red eyes held no warmth as they focused upon me.

“You with us, Shadow?” asked an enhanced blue pegasus. She was familiar, Sky was her codename. I tried to recall anything I knew about the mare but found any other memories were locked behind a wall of ice.

“Mmm,” I answered shakily, still in a daze.

“Shadow, please,” the stable pony was addressing me now, which finally snapped me back into reality. The mare hugged the filly that opened my pod to her leg. She looked worse for wear; bags surrounded her eyes, her face was littered with small cuts upon older scars, and a riot shotgun was slung around her neck. “We need your help. My Stable’s been breached and we’re being overrun. I need you and your soldiers to help repel the enemy.”

“Give her a moment, Overmare,” Sky said. “We’ll move out now before the enemy has a chance to seize too much real estate. Shadow, you take a moment.”

I hadn’t really absorbed the discussion but nodded anyway, shock still dominating my mind. Sky Blue turned to the other three cyberponies and they started moving off. The Overmare lingered however, looking at me with an odd expression: something between fear and pity, maybe both. I returned her gaze for a few moments before our staring contest was brought to an end when an explosion in the distance rumbled through the building.

The Overmare looked toward the room’s entrance then back to me, her expression becoming irritated: “Get yourself together.” She scooped the filly onto her back then turned to leave.

“Wait.”

She turned back to me, question tainting her grim resignation. I couldn’t understand where I wanted to go from there. Part of me wanted to tell the Overmare to go fuck herself and leave the Stable to its fate. Another section thought that part should go drown in a bucket of motor oil. Yet a third part was horrified that the other two were capable of such ideas and a fourth was sitting in a corner crying. My mind was still trying and failing to function properly. It wasn’t anything I should be worried about yet, cryostasis was known to cause amnesia (among many other--usually--temporary issues) but I really didn’t need to be trying to remember how to think while the lives of these stable ponies were hanging in the balance.

“Are you okay?” The Overmare was looking back at me with concern.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. I just need a moment.”

“We don’t have one. We-” At that moment the Overmare lifted her hoof to her ear and tilted her head as she listened to an ear bloom. “Luna damn it! Hold on, Blaze. Aria, start evacuating into the Security wing.” She looked back at the filly on her back. “Go to my office and hide, Star.” The filly gave a nod and jumped from the older mare’s back, scurrying off.

“What’s happened?”

The mare regarded me for a moment. It was a look I knew all too well, an officer fighting a battle that there was little to no hope of winning. Ponies were dying and here I was sitting on my rump.

She finally took a deep breath. “They’re pushing through the lower levels of Maintenance and I don’t have enough guns or ponies that know how to use them to hold the bastards back.”

“I’ll go help Maintenance.”

She gave me a skeptical look but shrugged it off; she didn’t have a better alternative to trusting a cybernetic death-machine with mental issues anyway. Nodding for me to follow, she walked towards the pod room door.

She pointed to the right, down a hallway. “Look for a buck named Socket Blaze, he’s my Chief of Engineering. I’ve sealed all of the security doors to funnel the bastards, but the bottom door in Stairwell A is damaged and they’re using the breach to try and flank the majority of my forces in the Mall. Get down there and stop them. Head down this hall to Stairwell D and-”

“Go to the bottom, make my way to the main access hall, Stairwell A’s entrance should be at the end of the main hall and up the left branch after getting past the reactor block.” Yay, go memory. “Yes, Ma’am,” I snapped off with a crisp salute, the motion feeling surreally natural.

The Overmare regarded me quizzically for a second before answering: “Yeah, get down there and secure it,” adding a stressed, but almost sweet: “Please.”

I nodded and we parted ways, the Overmare headed the other direction toward the Atrium. I turned down the hall and galloped to my objective. I could see a detailed schematic of the entire Stable in my mind's eye; my vision had a waypoint set at down the hall and small arrows all around. That was my advanced Eyes Forward Sparkle. The arrows and blips indicated creatures around me in three dimensions, blue for friend, red for foe, green for neutral. It was one of the functions of my integrated PIP. Ha! I was kickin’ memory loss’ butt. I was even moving and thinking at the same time.

I reached the bottom of Stairwell D without issue, exiting into a dimly-lit, musty hallway and slowing down at the junction with the main corridor. I saw a concentration of red blips in the corridor and listened for a moment. Over the din of the Stable’s machines I heard the heavy thudding of belabored metal hooves, a hissing and groaning of hydraulics, the general hum of magi-tech processors. Five sets of Steel Ranger armor were moving up the hallway beyond, in my direction. That left two red and several blue blips that were other ponies. Quietly sneaking up to the corner, I stole a glance down the corridor.

The Steel Rangers must have just broken through; they were moving carefully up the hall in a spread out column. Each was equipped with weapons that were hilariously overkill for the confined space. The classic grenade machine gun/missile launcher combo, sets of miniguns, a beam rifle duo, there was even a Ranger with an Anti-Machine rifle mounted up.

“Secure this floor,” I heard an amplified voice say. “Tea, secure the other stairwell. We’ll start moving up after we’re done with these Tribals. We’ve got a great haul here so don’t damage anything, the Elder will have our asses if we do.”

There was a whimper, followed by the sound of a skull being crushed and one of the blue blips on my E.F.S winked out. “We surrender, you bastards!” a stallion yelled, his voice gurgling in his throat. A burst of machine gun fire and another two blips disappeared.

I gritted my teeth, rage building up in me. I didn’t know what was going on here, but I wasn’t going to allow anyone linking themselves to Equestria to slaughter civilians or prisoners of war. Rangers had been sanctimonious asshats the last time I had met any, but two hundred years apparently only saw them blossom into truly egocentric bigots.

One of the soldiers- no, these ponies were thieves; there was no honor in what they did. One of the thieves was moving down the hall toward the junction and me, alone. Good to see that the Steel Ranger mentality of ‘Lone Wolfing It’ was still alive and well. I sulked back into the darkness of the hall, lying down on the floor in a closed doorway. I curled into a ball to hide most of my body.

The Steel Raider -- Tea, I guess -- got to the junction and stopped. Then, she started moving down toward me. “On your hooves, Tribal.” I laid still as she closed the last few steps. “I said O-ugh!”

Tea’s voice died as I leapt up and delivered a crushing hoof strike to her chest, buckling the armor over her sternum in and sending her back a step. Before she could recover I reared up on my back hooves, the augments holding me easily in a bipedal position. My forehooves lashed out and gripped her helmet. I wrenched her head around at an angle it was never meant to achieve, mechanics in the armor snapping with bone. Neck broken, Tea’s body gave out and fell to the ground with a thud.

“What the hell was that?” Another of the Rangers said. ”Tea, are you alright?”

Still standing on my back hooves, I reached up to the ceiling with my wings and forelegs, grabbed onto a water pipe, and hoisted myself up. After nestling myself amongst the pipes, cables, and ducts over the junction, I had to simply exercise my patience. The three other Steel Raiders slowly approached the intersection in a basic, spread out wedge formation.

Catching sight of the armored pony on the floor, the leader called out: “Tea? Sweet Tea? Damn it! Tea’s down. Fuck these Tribals! Rangers, delta formation!”

The leader was standing almost below me when I pounced right between the attackers. I drove my tail into the back of her helmet, the spearhead at the end slicing through armor, bone, and grey matter. I then clicked a mental switch, entering the unnatural, slow motion world of Stable-Tec’s Arcane Targeting Spell. I sat there for a long moment sizing up the two next rangers in the procession. I didn’t really need a spell to land any strikes but it was always nice to have a moment to assess a situation.

They were standing too far apart for me to decapitate both in one fell swoop of wingblades, so I needed to make a decision. The ranger to my right had started taking a step back and was turning around, probably making to run away from the demon that had been provoked. The stallion to the left, however, was turning to bring his battlesaddle’s pair of assault rifles to bear on me, earning him my immediate attention. I stepped beside my mark and with a swipe of my wings, cleaved through the thin armor at his neck.

At the same time, I whipped my tail around and hit the second ranger across her helmet shattering the visor and warping the side. I could hear her choking on her own blood and see the pure, unfettered terror in her pink eyes as she looked at me. I looked back feeling nothing, lost in my instincts as I brought up a hoof and crushed her head against the wall.

I looked away from the four Steel Raiders that I had just decimated and checked my EFS; there were only two living things on this level right now. One red blip and one green hiding inside one of the stable’s environmental control rooms. Being that I had seen five blips in that area before, the two were probably scoping out their spoils after eliminating the last few stableponies. They presented a problem because I couldn’t very well go get the stable’s air talismans or ventilation systems shot up trying to get at a pair of these thieves. Additionally, the Rangers would probably be looking to exploit their break through or wondering what happened to the squad in the basement. Already, I could see red blips moving down the stairwell to my floor.

My problem of how to deal with the two blips in environmental solved itself when the red one moved towards the door. I ran to the door in question and waited. Just like clockwork, the door slid up to reveal a sixth Steel Ranger. He wasn’t even able to register what was in his way before my hooves slammed his head into the door frame. In the room beyond was a unicorn wearing a red robe, a pendant I recognized as the logo of the Ministry of Wartime Technology stuck on the front. I paused in my vendetta as I looked at him. This unicorn was dressed up like a cult member with the MoT’s symbol proudly displayed on his chest.

Was that what had happened to the Steel Rangers? They had devolved into some technology worshiping cult of thieves?

The unicorn was having trouble processing that his escort was dead at the hooves of the robo-grim reaper that was now turning her attention to him. He looked at me with equal measures of fear and awe before his rational mind reasserted itself. He levitated a plasma pistol from the folds of his robes and took aim at me. I feinted up and then dove down to the floor trying to confuse him. Unfortunately, he was wearing a Pipbuck and slipped into S.A.T.S. The plasma pistol shot five times in rapid succession and hit me once in the back, near the root of my left wing. The unicorn’s hits didn’t help him much as I rolled right up to him and bucked him in the head, shattering his cranium.

I was dragged from my combat trance by the pain in my back where flesh had been burned away by the plasma bolt. My healing and repair talismans were already mending the damage, but my melted hide still hurt. The damage to my metallic wing was detached from my senses; my limbs were numbed almost to the loss of feeling and I could only really tell that the wing was moving sluggishly.

Despite the fact that there were now no Steel Rangers on the floor, I was hesitant to say I won. Not a single one of the stableponies had survived. I couldn’t stew in my failure, however, because three more red blips had reached the bottom of the stairwell and were spreading out into the hall. I looked to the robed ranger and quickly scooped up his pistol.

Moving back to the door I prepared for another round. My three new targets approached slowly and cautiously. The hallway had five Rangers lying broken in pools of blood; the small column was wise to take it slow.

They had almost gotten to my doorway when they stopped, of course I was showing up on their EFS just as they did on mine. Of course, the Rangers knowing my location could prove disastrous for me; they could coordinate and pin me down in one of these rooms easily. It would have been wise for me to retreat back to Stairwell D and lock the reinforced door before making my way back up to the stasis chambers and our armory…

Damn it! I bet a rifle, a couple of mines, and some spark grenades would be perfect for holding off wave after wave of Rangers. Well, scratch the spark grenades; I would get far more fucked up from those than my opponents would. A gun with small dimensions and a high rate of fire would be optimal really. At least had a plasma pistol now, I remembered plasma weapons being pretty powerful.

C’est-la-vie. I would have to live with my lack of foresight (damn amnesia) and persevere in accomplishing my goal of keeping this floor. Maybe after that I could start flanking around up through the main stairwell and get in behind the main force. Infiltrating, then causing chaos and disarray in the enemy lines sounded very me.

By this point my opponents had grown tired of waiting -- Rangers and patience always had mixed like water and oil -- and were preparing to breach the room. I stood back from the wall and waited as one of the rangers went across to the other side of the open door. I slipped into S.A.T.S. just as he was crossing and fired several shots into his side. The pony fell to the ground, his armor glowing and sparking. Seizing what I hoped would be the other two’s surprise, I launched myself around the door and into their faces.

Neither Ranger was caught off guard-- the one on the left put two shotgun slugs in my side before a wingblade raked across her face. The other opened up at point blank range with his machine guns, peppering my hide even after I delivered a hoof strike to his chest that collapsed his sternum and two shots into his visor. I staggered from the hits, my muscles trying to work around the lead buried in my flesh. I wasn’t even close to dying, the holes were already closing up as my healing talisman started working, but I wasn’t well either. Something had hit my blood mixing pump (my lungs, liver, and heart all in one) leaving me short of breath and with my blood pressure dropping as the repair talisman worked. A moment to heal would be in order.

“What the fuck!?”

There was another Ranger standing at the end of the hall. Celestia damn it. seemed I wasn’t going to catch a break when I desperately needed it. The stallion had caught me in the hall leaning against the wall in pain and injury. My only saving grace was that he had yelled at me instead of shooting me. His body language indicated disbelief and some fear but quickly changed to anger when I looked up at him.

“You fucking bitch!” he screamed.

I just sneered at him around my pistol. He aimed his battlesaddle at me and we both fired in unison, my bolt hitting his visor and melting through to his face while he missed wide, hitting the wall behind and next to me.

Of course he used a rocket launcher, fucking cheater.


My skin was melting; my lungs burned as they filled with smoke, my eyes could no longer see, flesh cooked on my bones. I couldn’t move, couldn’t feel anything but pain. It was happening again. All I could hope for was that this time I would find death’s sweet embrace. Instead, I started drowning.

I laid for who knows how long trapped in my nightmare before I inhaled a coppery liquid off the floor. I woke coughing and sputtering on what I quickly identified as my own blood, I was lying in a sizable puddle of my vital fluid. Around me, the aftermath of the missile’s explosion painted the walls with char, shrapnel, and the gore of the fallen and me.

I wasn’t well. My PIP had crashed leaving me without EFS, SATS, or any way to monitor my body’s systems. Not having a bearing on my surroundings or self didn’t help my trembling and shortness of breath. After coughing on my blood again, I lifted my face off of the floor and tried to push myself up a wall, slumping into a sitting position. I started taking deep breaths in an attempt to ward off my anxiety but was met with limited success. My cognitive disarray was the result of blood loss and shock just as much as my rising panic. I once again found myself cursing the jackasses that thought stasis pods were a good idea.

Looking around, I saw the nine Steel Raiders that had perished at my hooves and several others along with the blasted remains of the three dozen stableponies that they had slain. The walls were scarred from the battle and the floor was painted red. However, what I found unsettling was the quiet. My artificial ears could shrug off concussions that would scramble organic eardrums, but I still tapped a hoof on the floor to see if my hearing was intact. My ears were working perfectly; I heard nothing except the buzz of lights and the quieted roar of generators.

Surely the Steel Rangers would be going about their spoils or the stable ponies licking their wounds and assessing the damage of the attack. Both would have had paramount interest in the lower maintenance levels where some brutal fighting had taken place right next to a lot of the Stable’s most valuable and fragile equipment. The dead state of my surroundings only put me further on edge, trembles advancing into a full blown fit as I seized about and desperately tried to take a full breath.

Hoping to distract my mind, I looked back at my body to assess the damage. Most of my flesh had been healed by my talisman, so that was still working fine. My silky black coat looked like it hadn’t even been touched other than a few spots of fresh, pink skin that was still missing its regrown hair and the stray piece of shrapnel that stuck out of me as I digested it. My augments hadn’t weathered as well; the reinforcing spines that covered my spine was in decent condition, as were my my legs and wings, but the hump at my wings showed some serious damage. The unicorn’s plasma bolt had burned through the metal skin revealing the delicate wires and hoses beneath, leaving the shrapnel from the missile to rip through it. The sapphire between my wings was also cracked, meaning that my flight talisman was ruined. That would not be easily fixed.

Looking back had been a bad idea, a very bad idea. Visions of spidery surgical robots ripping away my flesh and a longing to feel the wind flowing through my feathers added to the swirling mass of anxiety in my head. The panic gripping my heart was joined by the jaws of a healing chamber’s claustrophobia and damnable whirring. My mind was being beaten with visions of fire, metal, machines, burned landscapes, and mountains of dead; the terror of my enemies as I purged them of life becoming my own. I saw the faces of friends who offered a second’s solace before I remembered their deaths.

I was trapped in a Stable, buried alive, drifting in an endless darkness; alone and forgotten forever.

I tried to get up and run but my legs moved lazily, what muscles I had seizing uncontrollably. I stumbled to the far junction, past the corpses of my victims and collapsed against the wall, hugging the corner for support. Snot and tears ran down my face as my body was violently shaken with sobs.

It took an eternity for my fit to finally pass, my perception of time lost to the never changing glow of the Stable’s lights and my lack of a clock. I left indents in the walls where I hugged them but felt marginally better afterward. My internals had finished repairing themselves while I was out of it and I was able to reboot my PIP. My flight talisman had failed, meaning flying was a bust. My EFS also seemed to be glitching out. I still stood, grabbed my pistol, and made my way up Stairwell A and past the residence floors to the main atrium.

Stable 13 was the largest shelter Stable-Tec built. Meant to house about two thousand ponies and 33 cyberponies, about twice the size of a normal stable. Of course, as one of only three planned Stables in the Crystal Empire, 13 would be tasked with guarding the last crystal ponies in existence in addition to the MAw’s contingency plans.

I exited into the Stable’s atrium. The space looked like a battlefield: Stableponies, Rangers, and a few cyberponies lay all over the massive communal space. There were also many piles of ash and goo, the remains of those who had fallen to energy weapons. Nothing stirred, the dead silence only broken by my hoofsteps, the clacking of my dogtags, the buzz of lights, and the sound of generators that had faded to a soft hum.

I took a closer look at a cyberpony. He wasn’t one of us Windigos; he was an earth pony in Stable barding. His cybernetics were nowhere near as advanced as my own. He was a pony with a few bits of tech attached instead of the permanently-changed, full-on cybernetic organism that I was. I found it odd that a Stable would have access to this tech and that they would find need to use it. The buck’s front right leg had been amputated and replaced with a prosthetic. He also had one of his eyes replaced, a large scar running over the socket. There wasn’t any industrial accident I had ever heard of that would cause injuries like that.

Finding the atrium crypt-like, I wandered the halls of the stable finding nothing but more dead. Working my way to the upper parts of the Stable, I found mountains of ash and burned bodies in the more secure parts of the stable. Making my way through security, I found the hallway that lead to the Overmare’s office. I was still in wonder of what had happened today in the stable and why I wasn’t awoken much earlier. If there was a place where answers could be found, it would be the nerve center of the stable.

I had just rounded the corner before the door to the Overmare’s office when shots rang out. I jumped back from the door as the wall was peppered with pistol fire. A voice called out: “Fucking die, you shit-spewing, metal traitors!”

“Hold your fire!” I yelled back.

“Shove it up your ass, you bitch!” The voice was familiar, one I had heard recently… Oh, duh. It was the Overmare; this was her office after all.

“Overmare,” I called out, “I don’t want any trouble. What happened here?”

The Overmare let out an almost mad cackle. “What happened? I think I’m talking to the most unconvincing, lying piece of shit I’ve ever had the displeasure of communicating with. YOU and your fucking popsicle buddies killed everypony in my Stable!”

“What?” I asked in disbelief as I stuck my head out to try and look at the Overmare’s face. She nearly put a bullet between my eyes for the trouble. “Celestia, stop shooting at me! I’m not trying to hurt you.”

“I told you to go fuck off. There’s nothing here for you or anypony else!” Her declaration was cut off by a coughing fit. I stuck my head around again while the mare struggled for breath.

She was lying on the floor of her office right in front of the door, a nickel plated magnum revolver in her jaws. The earth- no, crystal pony looked bad: a nasty burn covered the side of her stable barding, her back legs were pointing the wrong directions and there was a nasty bruise across her face. Her updo, typical of crystal ponies, was a frazzled, charred mess.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“What kind of question is that? You want to make sure you get the plaque right on your trophy?” The Overmare fired three more shots at me, one sparking off of my right shoulder. Revolvers carried six shots, she had started with two, almost beaned me when I poked my head out, now three more; she should be out. I took a deep breath and stepped out into the open, hoping that I wasn’t dealing with a seven shooter or a miscount on my part.

The Overmare snarled at me but was helpless to stop me as I slowly approached her. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“No. You just want to rid Equestria of weakness, treachery, and anything resembling diversity,” she said as she struggled to get the cylinder of the revolver open.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“I don’t know what you short-circuited abominations were fucking blabbing about. I was too busy trying to save the lives of the innocent ponies you were all massacring! May the fucking Princesses roast you all on spits in Tartarus.”

The Overmare had opened her gun but I casually batted it away with the broadside of my wings. “Please, just stop and le-”

Click

“Shit.” I could feel the barrel of a gun pressed up against the back of my head.

“Damn it, Star.” The Overmare looked like she had seen a ghost; her eyes locked on whomever was holding a gun to my head in fear. She broke contact with my assailant and looked at me desperately. “Please, do whatever you want to me, just let her go,” she pleaded with me.

I slowly made to turn around and saw a revolver with a dark color scheme hovering just behind my head. The weapon was wrapped in the green magical sheen of a unicorn filly: the same filly that had woken me up. She had a bright white crystalline coat and a rusty red mane that she shared with her mother but I had also seen somewhere else. The two pistols also seemed familiar as well but my memory was still a jumbled mess. I hadn’t had a full eight hours in over two hundred years and now sleep deprivation was starting to weigh on my already addled brain.

Wait, there’s a filly pointing a gun at me. “Look… Star, I don’t want to hurt you or your mom. I’m just wondering what happened here.” I tried to put on a warm smile which was difficult given my appearance, even without cybernetics.

“Star, put Moonbeam down. I think she’s telling the truth,” the Overmare said in a kind, honeyed voice that still oozed fear. The filly obliged, moving the pistol away from my face and darting to her mother’s side.

She put the blued revolver down next to its nickel counterpart. They were a handsome set of sidearms. Moonbeam had a mirror-like, deep, dark blueing; its immaculate ebony grips showing off a silver crescent. Its sister was just as beautiful; the nickel plating had a slight gold hue to it, giving the reflections it cast a warm, sunny feeling. The ivory grips shone majestically as they showed off an effigy of the sun.

That was it! Moonbeam and Sunshine: I had seen these guns before. “How did you get these?” I said, gesturing to the matched revolvers.

“They’re family heirlooms,” the Overmare answered. “Why.”

I looked at both of the other ponies for a second, a stupid grin breaking out across my face. I had to stifle chuckles that only got worse from their concerned expressions. The Overmare set me with a firm look as she wrapped a hoof around her daughter. “What’s so funny?”

I released a small chuckle at her. “I’m just imagining Moondancer hooking up with somepony. Let alone her becoming a mother.”

“You knew Moondancer?” The Overmare questioned.

“Uh-huh, she and I were friends of sorts.” Moondancer had been a quiet, antisocial nerd who was a very sweet and caring individual if one got through her shields. I had always been amused how such an unassuming pony made it a habit to walk about with a magnum strapped to each of her rear legs. Then again, my everyday carry was usually a 10mm machine pistol and snubnose revolver so I wasn’t one to talk. Our jobs kind of called for us to be prepared for confrontation.

The Overmare had gone back to giving me an assessing glare. I returned it as neutrally as possible, wondering if I could at least converse with her now. Finally, the orange crystal pony spoke: “You really have no idea what happened here, do you?”

“Not really,” I answered. “I have amnesia and almost ate a missile; I’m a bit out of it. I’m sorry for what happened here. It’s my fault that my troops-" I think they’re my troops "-got out of hoof.”

“Don’t blame yourself too much,“ the Overmare said. “It’s my fault that the Rangers even found our Stable and I decided to wake you all up despite Moondancer’s warning.”

I wanted to ask about what Moondancer had to say about her last great creations but decided that learning about my current environment would be a better option. “What happened with the Steel Rangers?”

“One of my trading parties was followed back here by those damn tech-hoarding zealots.”

“What trading is there to do on the surface? Why even leave the stable in the first place?”

“We didn’t leave Stable 13 on our own volition. It was supposed to remain sealed for centuries until an outside society established peace. It’s not like there’s much to rebuild society with here in the frozen north. However, about fifty years ago there was a fire in the maintenance wing that damaged several of our air talismans and destroyed the recyclers. Faced with the stable starving, my grandmother, Stargazer, led an expedition south looking for food and parts; anything to help save the stable. She had one hell of a time from the stories she told me; fighting off raiders, battling with wild beasts, and adventuring around the whole north. She was successful, the stable was saved.

“My grandmother led several other expeditions around the whole ‘wasteland’.” She emphasized the last word with her hooves. “That’s what the surfacers call it. The Great Stargazer made it to every corner of old Equestria and saw all kinds of things. Even helped build a couple settlements and brought back a few refugees to diversify the blood in the stable.”

“There are settlements on the surface?” The thought flew in the face of everything I knew about balefire holocausts.

“Uh-huh, only a couple here in the north but down in what was Equestria proper there's stuff that one could almost call civilization. That’s who I was sending teams out to trade with.”

“But why would a stable need any outside aid? Aren’t they supposed to be self-sustaining?” I asked.

“Emphasis on the ’Supposed to be.’ From what I’ve learned, Stable-Tec only designed these things to function for a couple decades not centuries on end. They’re over engineered like crazy but not perfect and our Stable has had it harder than most. A lot didn’t have a chance to fill like this one so there’s been more strain on our equipment. With the fire and several other accidents my mother projected that the stable would be toast in thirty years, leaving all of us with nowhere to go. We’ve done well cannibalizing a couple abandoned stables here in the north over the last few years. My family has been trying to build a secure future for our dwellers.” The Overmare took a deep breath, a couple tears running down her face. “That was how we started drawing attention. We needed supplies and equipment that we didn’t have here so we would scavenge tech, fix it, and then trade with the surfacers for what we needed.”

“Oh.” I looked at the Overmare with new found admiration. She was young for her command; barely old enough to have started a family of her own and she was the caretaker of thousands. She had been trying to secure the future of the ponies she had been trusted to protect. I reached out and touched her on the shoulder, smiling as I said: “Even the strongest fail. This Stable would have failed long ago if it weren’t for you and your family. You’ve done proud by my book, uh…”

“Oh, Nebula Skater,” answered, gesturing to herself before pointing to her daughter, “and this is Starprancer.” The white unicorn filly gave me a small wave.

Nebula looked at me hard, creasing her brow. “If you’re the leader of the Windigos, then that would make you Shadow…” I nodded rather absent-mindedly to her. “Moondancer wrote about you in her logs. I think there’s a message for you on my terminal. It’s Overmare’s log #557.”

“Ok.” I moved away and toward the Overmare’s terminal. It was unlocked and I found file 557. The letter read:

Dear Shadow,

I know that this is rather cowardly but I can think of no other way to convey my deepest apologies. I will be blunt; it has been twenty years since I sealed Stable 13 from a world that had been bathed in balefire. Rainbow is dead, as are any of Operation: Windigo’s targets. In light of this I have been left to ponder what to do with the 33 cyberpegasus supersoldiers that I have on ice in the basement.

This stable lacks the equipment and resources to allow you all to integrate into the general population. Additionally, there is the question of the mental stability of augmented ponies; I was never able to research Generation 5 examples properly but my early observations’ similarities to Generation 3 and 4 are not promising. I also can’t in good conscious just throw you and the others out of the stable; I might as well pull your plugs now and be done with it. I have therefore decided to leave you and the other Windigos in stasis until you can be properly rehabilitated or are desperately needed.

I know I’m essentially sentencing you and the others to a very slow death, and I don’t expect you to forgive me. I only hope that one day you’ll be able to understand me and that I might find peace with what I’ve done. Everything I’ve done.

You were such an inspiring and caring pony, Sunny. I know that you’ll have the strength to carry on once we’re all gone, to hopefully make the world a better place. And one day, we all can enjoy piña coladas on some white sandy beach in the ever after.

Good luck,

Moondancer

I reached up and wiped the tears from my face. I did feel anger and betrayal at one of my closest friends abandoning me, but Moondancer had acted with good reason in the interest of others.

“Hey,” Nebula called from the floor, “there are a couple bottles in the left bottom drawer of the desk. When you’re done I believe some drinking is in order.”

I couldn’t agree more; a drink sounded like a fantastic idea. Sliding the drawer in question open I found a half bottle of apple whiskey, a sealed bottle of Wild Pegasus malt whiskey, and a few glasses. “I like your taste, Nebula,” I said holding up the Wild Pegasus.

“Finest the Wasteland has to offer.” She said with a sickly grin.

I took the apple booze and glasses over to my new companions. Starprancer was nuzzled into Nebula’s side, sound asleep. The orange mare herself looked bad, her vibrant coat had lost its sheen and was growing pale. Her breaths were short and quick.

I pulled the stopper out of the bottle of apple whiskey and poured two glasses of the sweet amber liquid. I passed one to Nebula and took the other in my hoof putting the bottle between us. “To friends at the end of the world,” I said smiling tearfully.

“Hear, hear.” Nebula finished off her glass in one gulp and let out a long sigh before going for a refill.

The Overmare was caught back by the venom in my voice. “What happened to you? I can’t imagine you just wound up like that.” She gestured to my metal legs. “You get fucked up to needing that but you’re still even tempered and... normal. None of it seems to be affecting you badly.”

“The strength, speed, and semi-invincibility is pretty great, especially to a cripple who was never going to walk again. This is my salvation really.” I waved my wings around; their sinister blades gleaming. Tears started running down my face and I felt the first trembles.

My new friend sensed my apprehension and held her glass up: “To salvation.”

I took a shaky breath and clinked my glass to hers: “To salvation.” I noticed that she had started crying at the words. “Are you alright?”

She turned and looked back at the filly snoozing against her. “Please, Shadow, I need somepony to… t-to…” She started weeping quietly.

Salvation indeed. I placed a hoof on the dying mother’s shoulder: “I’ll protect her to my last breath and do my best to see her grow into a good mare.”

“T-th-thank you” She wrapped her hoof around mine and held it; I couldn’t feel her warmth and she shook like a leaf, but I appreciated the gesture. I didn’t think I had it in me to help raise a filly but with Celestia as my witness I would see Star through to adulthood if it killed me.

Nebula refilled her glass and downed it just as quickly. I followed suit and asked her about the surface. We went back and forth for hours trading stories about her new and my old world. I was told of the great exploits of the illustrious Stargazer and tales of Nebula’s own time in the Wasteland. Grand epics of raiders, rangers, refugees, scavengers, alicorns, the Enclave, and heroes that rose above it all. I told her of my misspent youth and some of my many tales from The Great War. It had been too long since I last got drunk with a stranger-turned-friend. I will admit that I don’t remember much of what happened that night, but I know that we shared a good time, and that neither the alcohol nor Nebula Skater survived the night.

Author's Note:

Well congrats for making it through the first chapter! I'm still pretty green with this whole writing thing but hopefully Shadow and her tales will be enjoyable. I've had a lot of this rattling around in my head and figured I would go mad if I didn't get it out.

Of course, thank you to Kkat and Somber for FO:E and cyberponies respectively.
Proof read/edited by ClickClackTheBrony

Not really perfect but pretty good song for Shadow:

Up and out:trollestia: