• Published 1st Aug 2016
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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 8: The Alicorns of the North

Ch 8: The Alicorns of the North

After so many years since I had last held my rifle, I almost expected myself to have grown unused to it. Quite the contrary, cradling that sculpture of steel and wood was a comforting, surreal experience. To me, the handsome old rifle oozed power and precision, but it also showed age. There was no getting around my Scythe being from the older world, just like I was. An era before the War that my well have been completely forgotten. But together, we pair of relics lifted each other out of oblivion. Together we were death and fire incarnate. After two centuries of inactivity, these robots would suffer the direct fury of the Black Angel of the Eastern Sky.

Celestia above, I’m sitting here getting all giddy about shooting some damn robot. Like anybody would care about this, that it meant anything at all…

I cared, whatever that was worth. I sighed shifted my weight a bit, moving my butt off a lump in the pillow I was sitting on. My rifle was laid out on a writing desk in front of me, aimed out the rooms window at the top of the watertower across the yard.

“Luna, have you been awake this whole time?”

I looked over at Grape in the upper of two bunks across the room, causing the mare to flinch.

Am I really that scary looking? I wondered.“Yeah.”

“Wow…” The green mare intoned, still looking away from me. “I haven’t seen you even twitch and you were in that position when we settled down. I thought you were like powered down or something.”

“I don’t power down. It doesn’t work that way, Grape.”

“Sorry.”

I rolled my eyes. I expected us to lapse back into silence as the mare went back to sleep. Instead she asked me: “So, you’re a sniper.”

“Mmmm,” I hummed affirmatively. “Among other things.”

“Oh…” Grape mumbled. “I recognized the pegasus skeleton on your rifle, some Enclave Remnants I saw a few years ago had it on their armor.” She shook her head, “They were a bunch of whack-job sniper-types.” She audibly gulped before stammering out a quick apology: ”Not that you’re a whack-job or anything. You seem really level-headed and sane.”

“You know, one of the greatest skills one can learn in communication is when to stop talking."

“Yes, ma’am.” She nodded quickly before settling back into her bunk again. “What’s the story behind it? Why do you pegasus snipers wear it?”

“It’s the Grim Reaper, Death’s harvester of souls from griffon mythology,” I said. “I thought a skeletal specter that collects the damned was a pretty metal when I was younger, a lot cooler than just having “born to kill” scratched in my rifle stock. So, I had my armorer stencil it, paint it on, and I ran with it for years. Already had the whole mini Nightmare Moon thing going and was earning a reputation as a cold blooded bitch, but this really rounded out my whole demonic harbinger of death aesthetic. Later on, the ponies I trained took it on themselves and it kinda got beyond me from there.”

“Oh…” Grape gulped. “Were you that good?”

“I was the best,” I said evenly, “for a while.”

“Oh. So, that synth or whatever with the anti-machine rifle, how hard is it going to be to hit him?” she asked.

I looked out at the synth’s perch atop the water tower. “Right now I don’t have the angle, but that’s an easy shot once I get him in my sights. Wind’s a bit harsh, it blows steady from the north but gusts really hard from the southeast, but I shouldn’t have too much trouble with it.”

“But the range.” the other mare looked out the window. The water tower was beyond the far side of the massive railyard. “That’s really far, you sure that’s not going to be an issue?”

My response came phrased as a snicker. “It’s not even a thousand meters, I think I can handle it.”

“Even with that super old rifle?”

“I’m older than the rifle,” I apprised the mare, shooting her another glare.

“Sorry, ma’am.”

I softened my glare.

“Who do you think it's shooting at?” Grape started again. “Rangers?” There was a slightly hopeful tone to her voice.

“Or Stable ponies,” I guessed. “There's Alicorns running around up here too.”

“I don't think Alicorns use guns usually, they can shoot lightning”

I lifted my head up and turned it to look at her properly, opening my mouth to respond, but Star chose that moment to let out a gasp. Grape jumped away from the edge of her bunk, pinning herself against the wall. I left my rifle on the desk, went over to the filly’s bedside, and pulled back her blankets. She was still unconscious, but curled into a ball, clutching her head in pain.

I placed a hoof on her shoulder and she spasmed, rolling over with a shriek. I yanked back my hoof as she settled back down again.

“What’s wrong with her?”

“I…” I gulped. “I don’t know…”

“Am I going to be okay with her when she wakes up?” Grape asked, fear apparent in her voice.

Star thrashed a little in her sleep and muttered something, before grabbing her head and squeezing around the base of her horn.

“We’ll have to see,” I answered. “I think you’ll live. She not the killing type.”


“I don’t know about that, some of the most terrible ponies out there come out of Stables.” Grape’s voice rang hollow and foreboding.

Noted. I waited for Star to calm down a bit and managed to place a hoof on her back without her screaming again. She was hot to the touch and had started mumbling again.

The filly started thrashing against me. “Mom!” she screamed, gritting her teeth as tears started running down her face.

I had been thinking of stepping back and leaving her to thrash out her fit, but after that I couldn’t bring myself to take my hooves off of her. I pulled Star against my chest and buried my face in her mane. “Shhh,” I cooed.

Star thrashed around for a few more seconds before a shiver ran down her body and she went as limp as a corpse. A terrible sense of dread went through me with that thought and I froze up, my whole chest tightening like a vice.

“Mamma?”

The quiet request had my heart jumping between elation and agony. “N-no, Starprancer, it’s me. I’ve got you.”

“Shadow?”

Star pushed herself away from me so she and I could look eye to eye. “Shadow…” The filly said it again, just to assure herself, and her eyes glazed over with tears.

“Shh,” was all I could manage.

The unicorn pressed her face into the crook of my neck and let out a pained sob. However, Star once again proved that she wasn’t much for crying; some sobs, wailing a few names into my neck, and she was done. We sat for a few moments, her cradled in my hooves while she hung around my neck.

“Hi, Star,” I finally said. “I missed you.” I had to choke back some weird hybrid of a sob and a giggle. “You’re feeling alright?”

“My head still feels fuzzy, the tips of my hooves are numb, and my horn kinda burns. I guess I feel kinda sick,” she reported. “Are you okay? Where are we?”

“We’re in a railyard in the industrial district on the eastern side of the city,” I answered. “Hiding out in an old switch house.”

“Oh…” she sighed, soaking the information in and thinking.

I felt Star’s mouth open to say something again before she went as stiff as a board. A scared “eep” from the upper bunk followed a moment after. Celestia damn it, Grape! Couldn’t give me a moment to at least tell Star you’re up there and not going to try to hurt her?

My mouth opened, something to pacify Star on my tongue. But before I could even draw a breath, the crack of the synth’s anti-machine rifle sounded off again. Star instantly tried to launch herself over my shoulder at Grape.

Star charged her horn in an instant and fired a burst of vaguely directed magical energy at Grape, splintering the side of the bunk bed. Grape squealed again before launching herself off of the bunk and into a surprisingly graceful arc through the open doorway. Her surprising grace didn’t last all the way through the door though, she smacked into the frame with a hiss of pain and limped away.

Star fell down my back and too the floor, holding her horn in pain for a second before resuming her pursuit. The desk I had been resting my rifle on was wrapped in her magic and lifted into the air, following the furious filly as she raced out the door after the green mare. I quickly got to my own hooves and followed after the pair.

Grape had taken refuge under the switchboard, cowering as Star bashed the desk into splinters on the old control panel. The filly didn’t seem to have enough wits about herself to hurt Grape at least. However, she didn’t seem to be handling the exertion well. Her magic started to fade out as she panted and swayed from side to side.

“Celestia damn it, Star, stop before you hurt yourself!” I snapped.

Her magic flashed out and she dropped the remains of the desk on the switchboard. The filly stumbled forward and stuck her head under the board. “I’ll kill every last one of you!” she snarled, far from her usual calm, snarky self.

Grape was sent running out from under the far side of the board. Star was quick to extract herself from under the board and fire another burst of magical energy in Grape’s direction, shattering the wooden paneling on the wall. Her trot wavered and nose started bleeding.

“Damn you, Starprancer! Grape, over here, now!”

The green mare diverted her course right for me, diving between my legs and rolling back into the bunk room with that odd grace.

“Starprancer, stop right now! You’re going to cripple your magic or worse!”

“Get out of my way, traitor!” Star shouted at me. Her magic wrapping around me, lifting me into air, and flinging me across the room. I sailed through rotted plaster and wood as I smashed through the wall. A pipe broke and spilt foul water all over as I and a section of wall collapsed into a heap in the next room.

I laid there, back spasming from the impact and the water so laden with rust and other shit it wouldn’t freeze soaking into my coat. Star snarled again and I wiggled around on the pile of debris trying to roll over, digging Celestia knew what rusted nails and nasty insulation into the back of my neck and the fabric of my barding. I’m going to need about a dozen tetanus shots after this...

I was able to look back into the room just in time to see Star digging into her saddlebag and extracting Moonbeam. Grape came into my view, she was trying to force the room’s window open before taking off toward me and the hole in the wall. The green mare was balling: crying, screaming, sobbing. She bounded over me and went barreling into another desk, somersaulting over the top and hiding on the far side.

“Please,” Grape pleaded, “don’t kill me. I’m sorry. I was just following orders. It was the last option we had, the whole Wasteland has it out for us! I never-”

“SHUT UP!” Star snarled, her magic trying to load her revolver.. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! You think a bunch of bullshit like that means fricking anything, you Steal Ranger! Steal, like taking, because that’s all you’re good for!”

“Seriously, Star?” I injected from the floor. “That’s the best you’ve got?”

“Why are you on her side, Shadow?” Star snapped her bloodshot eyes to me, swaying on her hooves but keeping her gun pointed at the desk concealing Grape. “What the heck fuck why? And why are you covered in blood?”

Blood?

The haze of bloodlust drained from her face in an instant, replaced with fear and worry. “Goddesses! Are you okay? You’re gonna die! I’m so sorry!”

“I don’t think I’m gonna die,” I mused. All this crashing through walls and stress probably isn’t healthy, though. “It’s just water from a pipe in the wall, maybe a cut or two. I’m just really cold and grossed out.”

Star gave me an odd look. “Are you okay? You’re acting weird again. Did the Steel Raider hack you or something?”

“No,” I shrugged, “I feel fine.”

“You’re sure?”

“Well, I’ve had to readjust the scale,” I elaborated. “I’m pretty fucking terrible, but I guess this is my life now.”

Star’s mouth worked aimlessly for a few seconds, looking for words before she finally settled on: “All right… Why is there a Steel Ranger here?”

“She owes me, she asked for help, she’s good with tech, and she helped me move around while taking care of you,” I answered calmly. “I honestly expected her to stab me in the back but I think she’s nice to have around.”

“I don’t care what you think!” the filly snarled, anger surging back to the forefront. “She destroyed my home! I lost everyone because of her and I’m supposed to forgive her for it?!”

“Forgive her for what?” I asked. “She was just a grunt. Not even a grunt, she barely knows how to fight.”

“It doesn’t matter! She’s one of them!” she screamed as she looked over me at the desk Grape was hiding behind.

“Are you going to shoot me next?” I asked. “The Rangers attacked your home, but it was Windigos that destroyed it. We wiped out everything and I was the commanding officer.”

“You weren’t well! You couldn’t take charge of them, you couldn’t even stand on your own.” Star turned back to me.

“My weakness is my fault.”

“No, it wasn’t, damn it! Don’t go blaming yourself, please.” There were tears on her face.

I shifted around and sat up. “There’s no blaming myself to it, that’s a concrete fact. If I it weren’t for me, Stable 13 might have survived. It certainly wouldn’t have met the fate it did.

“I’m more to blame than she is.” I nodded my head at Grape.

“Why are you saying that?”

“Because that’s the logic you’re using,” I said.

I lifted a hoof and lowered Star’s revolver. She looked at me, anger still burned in her eyes but it was mixed with fear, confusion, and vulnerability. “Grape can you come out?”

The green mare poked her head around the corner of the desk. Star bristled at the sight of the her, but didn’t try anything but try to burn a hole through Grape with the hatred in her glare.

For what felt like an eternity we sat there. Grape hyperventilating against the side of the desk, me holding back Star, and the filly pouring as much hatred into her glare as possible. Eventually, Star seemed to fatigue, her glare breaking and eyes falling away from Grape. Her fury broken, I waited a few minutes longer, just to make sure Grape’s scared face was burned into Star’s memory, and held out her revolver.

“Grape, don’t move or I’ll kill you myself,” I said, calmly. “Now you can shoot her, Star.”

Grape froze in place, looking at me in horror. Star looked at the gun and levitated it into the air, leveling it on Grape. The filly lorded over to Grape for what felt like an age. Then, slowly the revolver was lowered and a sob escaped her. I opened my mouth to say something but the pistol was flung into my chest hard enough to knock the wind out of me as Star stormed back into the other room.

I looked over to Grape who was hyperventilating in the corner, eyes unfocused as she stared at the space between her and Star. “You’re not hurt or anything are you?” I asked, rubbing my bruised sternum.


“Why have you forsaken me, Luna? I’ve not been through enough? I have to try and avoid the wraith of a demon unicorn filly? The scorn of a perfect-in-everyway pegasus doll? Does the depths of your cruelty know no bounds?”

“Grape,” I repeated a bit louder.

She jerked her head up to me. “Was I talking aloud?”

“I don’t know, I’m so perfect I might have just been hearing your thoughts.”

The mare’s face turned chocolate brown again with a blush. “I’m sorry. I think. She did try to kill me. And you couldn’t be more of the cool-under-pressure, warrior-badass snowflake if you tried.” She buried her face in her hooves. “I think I might just kill myself, but then I would probably just get reincarnated even worse off. I might be as attractive as you two.” Grape shuttered. “Instead of getting to hideout working on tech all day, I would be stuck in the brothels. Or worse...”

“Grape,” I hissed.

“I think it would have been better if I had just killed her,” Starprancer commented from behind me. “Almost seems like a mercy, really.”

“NO!” Grape burst out, throwing herself to the floor. “Please don’t kill me, changeling-sorceress!” she sobbed, “I don’t wanna be a sex slave!”

“Shut up!” Star snapped, lighting her horn.

The act of firing up her magic had an instant adverse effect on her though. Her eyes grew hazy and she fell back on her rump, whatever else she had to say dying on her tongue.

This is getting out of hoof. “Enough, the pair of you! Star, no more magic, you’re going to hurt yourself even more than you have. Grape, shut your whole damn train of thought down right now. You’re not gonna be anyone’s sex slave.”

At my declaration, Grape teared up and buried her face in a hoof again, the other hoof beating the floor in anguish. “You’re right! Nopony would ever find me desirable. I’m a fugly, unlovable troll. They couldn’t give my body away!”

I grit my teeth. I wonder how hard I could hit her without causing any lasting damage...

“Hey, Grape, was it?” Star said, looking back through the hole in the wall and giving the earth pony a sneer that was far more cruel and sinister than I thought she could produce. “If you don’t shut it, I’ll turn you into the most beautiful mare that there’s ever been. Somepony so pretty, ponies don’t even notice us. As attractive as the next hundred prettiest combined. That would make Rarity and Sweetie Belle look like mongrels. Put the Princesses to shame, too.

“We’ll use you as bait for any raiders that we run into.”

Grape’s body went rigid and she slowly looked up at Star, her face sheet white. Once again, I found myself reminded of a spiteful god looking down on some repugnant mortal that they were getting sick of seeing.

“You couldn't,” Grape said. “You wouldn't.”

Star shrugged with a sinister smirk. “I'm a growing filly, I don't know what I'll be capable of. What I do know, though, is you can't spell Grape without ra-”

“Star,” I interjected, “shut up. The only magic you’re doing in the immediate future is the wonder of healing.”

“Whatever, Shadow,” the filly grumbled, lighting her horn and stopping her bloody nose. “It’s not like healing your nose and telekinesis was hard on me or anything.”

Only healing my nose and TK? “Star, do you not remember what you did?” I asked.

“No?” She quirked an eyebrow. “I mean, it couldn’t have been too much, I feel fine.”

“Star, I carried you halfway across the city, you’ve been unconscious for nearly two days. You had a flare that knocked down a building and you’re lucky to still have a functioning horn.”

Star blinked at me and tilted her head. “I knocked down a building…”

“Yeah,” I answered.

“And then passed out for two days,” she continued. “You carried me halfway across the city…”

“She helped-” I jerked my head at Grape “- but yes, I carried you this far on my back. You scared me half to death and I swear, I’ll beat you senseless if you don’t calm down!” I walked over and picked her up by the scruff, depositing her on my back before looking for my discarded rifle and picking up my gear. “Just fucking drink some water, eat something, sit there, and behave. I need to go shoot a synth.

“Grape, collect yourself and meet us down in the yard. Try not to get shot.”


The sun was just coming up, casting me in complete shadow while giving great illumination of the watertower. Between the lighting, the train cars, and the angle, there was no way the synth could see me, even if it had heard the commotion Star and Grape had been making.

I was at the midpoint of the yard, able to see the front of the watertower and finally able to put a bead on the synth between gaps in the train cars. I put Star down in the snow and pulled my Scythe off of my back. Opening the action, I fed six rounds into the rifle before removing the lense covers. Rifle ready, I looked over at Star. The filly was grumpily reattaching her saddlebags under her winter cloak while chewing on some sort of snack bar.

“You know, I can’t really say how happy I am that you’re okay.”

She looked up at me, a frown etched across her face. “What’s your deal? I know we don’t know each other that well, but I don’t get this at all. You’re the big bad Shadowbolt sniper supersoldier mare who’s probably killed a million zebras and not thought twice about it. But then you wave at alicorns and spare a Steel Raider for no reason. What is that? You didn’t learn your lesson with ghouls and synth that maybe you just shouldn’t mess with whatever is out here?”

I blinked at her before looking away. “You called me monster,” I answered quietly.

Star’s brow creased in thought for a second before revelation washed over her face. “What?” Star galloped in front of me and did her best to stare me down with tears beading at the corner of her eyes. “Did that go to your head? Are you sure you’re not blaming yourself for all of this? Home wasn’t your fault. None of this is your fault. And I d-didn’t mean to call you a monster.”

“Star,” I started, wrapping my hooves around my head and leaning back against the train car. I still haven’t gotten around to having my sob. I could really go for that right now. But, I can’t do that now, though. I’ve gotta fight off everything and save the day or something still. “I’m a mess, Star. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do or even think. I feel dead inside and at the brink of bursting out in tears all the time. I can’t sleep, don’t have a plan to get me past the next few hours, and my my mood swings like my mother’s interest in family life. I’m already losing my mind, and I’m scared of becoming like the others.”

I leaned back forward and looked down at the filly. “I’ve been called a monster, heart-less, cold-blooded, natural-born killer, demon, and everything else. Rightfully so, and I’m never going to be able to overcome that, and it’s not easy trying to live with that on your shoulders. You’re not like that, and I don’t want you to ever be like this, you’re a kind and nice pony. And I also gotta figure out how to be a role model for you so that you keep that, because I know it’s going to be hard going forward but I can’t stand the idea of-”

“Shhh…” Star stood up on her back legs and placed her hoof over my mouth. Once she was sure she had stopped my rambling she leaned forward and wrapped both hooves around my neck and squeezed tight. I let out a cross between a hiccup and sob, then wrapped my neck and hooves around her.

“You’re not like them, you’re incredible. Big and dumb and a mess that tells goofy jokes, but incredible,” she said, rubbing a tearful face into the crook of my neck. “I’m glad you’re my friend.”

I nodded and shuddered again. “Thank you… I needed that.”

“You don’t need to try so hard to be a role model, you’re already amazing. It’s nice to see someone who can fail and keep going too,” Star continued, looking over the way we had came. Grape was seen skulking through the snow, looking erratically around for any sign of danger. Star sighed, “I guess I can try with her at least.”

“She seems like a decent enough pony and I know it’s mean, but I don’t need you thinking killing is the best solution to problems.” I rubbed her back before letting her go just as another anti-material rifle shot sounded out.

“Just as you’re about to solve a problem by shooting it?” Star teased, sitting back down with a smirk on her face.

“Synths aren’t alive, I’m just breaking more robots.” I shot one last smirk before poking my head around the side of the traincar.

The water tower was about twenty meters high. The synth was perched on the side of the the domed water tower, looking into the heart of the yard. The wind was a steady ten knots from the west now, with gusts up to fifteen from the same direction.

Wind: ten/fifteen knots on my back, a none factor. Elevation: 947 meters above sea level, target plus fifteen meters. Temp: -15 degrees. Ammo: Y48, solid sharpshooter’s load for 8mm ELA, old, probably degraded. Range…

I had a laser rangefinder built into my cybernetic eye, so I just looked at the body of the watertower and thought range finding thoughts. Range: 754.6 meters.

I heard Grape finally stumble her way up to us. I gave her a stern look before turning back. I mentally brought up my ballistic calculations and then let the computer attached to my brain solve the equations in a moment as I shouldered my rifle. With my calculations set, I reached up and started clicking in adjustments on the modern scope on my old rifle.

I nestled into my cheek weld and cranked up the zoom. “Grape, head or chest?” I asked.

She flinched again from me looking at her. “W-what?”


“On a synth,” I elaborated. “Do you think I would cause more damage hitting it in the chest or the head?”

“Um…” The green mare put a hoof to her chin in thought for a moment.

“Didn’t you knock the head off of a synth and it still managed to buck you, Shadow?” Star asked. “You almost threw up your own guts.”

“That did happen didn’t it,” I recalled, my abdomen aching from the memory.

“That would make sense, the head is probably just filled with sensors and maybe a few processors for those inputs. The main control computer is probably in the chest along with their power source,” Grape speculated. “There’s also a copper bit that looks like intestines on them, I think it’s a heatsink of some sort. Hitting it would probably overheat it and take it down.”

“Mmm,” I hummed in acknowledgement.

Ruining a heatsink would undoubtedly cause issues for the synth but I doubted that it would be the killshot I was looking for. The upper chest it is.

“You're still going to try and hit it from here?” Grape asked from behind me.

I smirked a little before taking a deep breath and tuning out. “Nothing else. When taking the shot: it’s just you, your rifle, and the shot. Everything else in the world ceases to exist in that instant.”

It hit the synth square in the chest, just behind the shoulder. On an organic target it would have shredded the lungs and diaphragm, probably caught the coronary and aortic arteries. Hydrostatic shock would have caused even more damage, pretty much guaranteeing a kill. On the robot, the bullet impacted with a blue spark, apparently hit something important, and it collapsed.

Rather anticlimactic, really.

“Well fuck.” Grape was standing behind me, looking over my shoulder, mouth agape.

“Moderately demanding shot,” I commented, slinging my rifle over my shoulder and starting off along the rails again.

“Grape, I want you behind Star. Keep an eye to the rear and left. Star, look right. I've got point. Now that that sniper is down, whoever was having a shootout with the synths might try to counterattack.” To affirm my statement, there was a crackle of assault rifle fire from ahead. It was followed by a burst of laser fire and what sounded like a cannon of some sort.

We made our way over multiple branches heading off into the surrounding warehouses and store yards. Soon we had made it to the end of the yard where the tracks merged back together. The gun fire had gone quiet but the occasional burst confirmed that we were getting close to the fight. We followed a northbound set of tracks out of the yard and were suddenly on a street that ran parallel with the tracks.

We dodged around snow drifts and hugged the sides of warehouses as we moved through the industrial area. The gun fire echoed off of the cracked concrete, rusted sheet metal, and ice. There wasn’t any sign of the combatants though, they seemed to be on our left, off to the west, and there were no signs of trails or tracks. Hopefully they’re not heading this way....

We had followed the main line for about eight blocks and seemed to be getting past the gun fire. Of course, we weren’t home free. The snow banks had grown into small mountains as the frozen north worked to reclaim this part of the city, crushing the buildings they were leaning against and effectively corralling us into a valley of ice and concrete.

“I don’t like this,” grumbled Grape.

“We’re getting boxed in,” Star added.

“I noticed, but the snow seems to get impassable to the east and there’s gunfire to the west. We don’t really have another option here,” I answered. “We don’t want to turn east yet either. The cold and winds are going to be a lot more intense on the tundra. We won’t make it out there like this.”

We’ll need to find a department store or something to raid for camping supplies and extra cold weather gear. We wouldn’t find any such thing in this part of the city but north of here was the Diamond District, the wealthy, touristy part of the city along Lake Sapphire. The area was probably brimming with loot and would make a perfect last stop before crossing over the lake and leaving the valley.

My thoughts were interrupted by a ticking in the back of my head. It was slow but seemed to grow in tempo each step forward I took. There was also a ticking outside of my head, coming from Star and Grape’s wrists. I stopped and held a wing up, not that Star and Grape needed to be told to wait up.

“Where do you think that is?” Star asked, as we scanned over the scene before us. There was a train on the tracks off to the left and more snow covered warehouses on each side.

“Stay here,” I said before walking off toward the train.

The ticking increased as I got closer, my RAD counter was going constantly by the time I had reached the back of the train and swept a wing across the last car. It revealed a bright purple and yellow symbol, indicating magical waste. I quickly backed away from the train and it's ruptured containers.

“That looked super healthy,” Star deadpanned, before continuing a bit more seriously. She dug around in her saddle bag and passed me a packet of Radaway.

“Probably,” I said. “We're not making it past that. Let's circle back and head over a block.”

We walked back a block. Faced with a two-story snow drift to the east, I decided to brave getting closer to the gunfight and marched down a westbound street. My original plan had been to simply move over a block and start northward again, but the snow drifts had other plans, most of the other streets were narrower than the road we had been on and were completely choked with snow.

Being forced to keep going west put me on edge, I didn’t have a lot of faith in my group’s combat ability. We were great against ghouls, but taking on organized opponents with ranged weapons was a solid no. I didn’t think I had would have another instance of running for my life interspersed with hoof-to-hoof fighting and gunplay in me for a while.

The thought had only barely passed through my head when the sound of laser fire came from up the street. I ducked down behind a nearby wagon; it was close. I brought a wing blade to my lips in a quieting motion to Star and Grape before creeping around the side of the wagon. There were two groups of synths ahead of us, both clustered around the corners of warehouses at intersections. Their opponents were to the south and we had stumbled across their flank. There were six in the group closest to us and another three further out, all of them looking up the road and occasionally poking around the building to shoot down the street.

Keeping an eye on them, I crept forward into the next intersection, this road too was blocked to the north with more snow drifts. I looked to the south and quickly ducked back behind the wagon, there was another group of ten synths a two blocks down.

From the positioning of the synths, we had walked right up behind the firefight. The other group were probably only a block or two to the southwest, caught in a crossfire.

I waved my wing for Grape and Star to join me. The three of us laid against the side of the wagon as I pointed with a hoof. “There’s two groups along this road, and another down in that direction.” I jerked my head to the south.

For a moment, I contemplated debating our course of action with Star and Grape. But the truth of the matter was that we were outnumbered nineteen to three and were ourselves boxed in by the city and snow. However, we had the element of surprise and extremely favorable firing angles. This was a golden opportunity to eliminate a sizable portion of the enemy force and I wasn’t going to squander it on democratic debate.

“Grape, when I give the signal I want you to cross around the side of this wagon and hose down that group to the south. Star, take my carbine and hit that group just ahead of us. I’ve got the three further down the road.”

“I don’t think…” Grape looked like she was thinking about challenging me but her comment died with a single glare from me.

“Right,” Star said, as she took my carbine in her magic. She turned the rifle over in her magic, checking for a round in the chamber and ammo before bringing it level with her head, ready to fire.

“On three,” I said. “One, two, three.”

It went off like clockwork. Grape ducked around the front of the wagon first, followed by Star and me. The green mare’s twin battlesaddle spewed out a wall of blue laser fire as Star carefully emptied my carbine into the sides of her group. I lined my sniper rifle up on my trio, they were all standing perfectly and I hit all three with a single shot.

Two of them fell instantly, blue sparks arcing out of their chests. The third I only got in the rear abdomen, about where Grape said the radiator-looking thing was. It staggered around and turned toward us, drunkenly trying to aim it’s beam pistol at us. I quickly cycled my rifle’s bolt and fired again, hitting right in center of the chest, the synth falling to the ground instantly.

Next to me, Star had emptied my carbine and was pulling another magazine from my vest. I looked over at her group, seeing several piles of scrap, one synth dragging itself through the snow toward the street, and another hiding behind the corner of the building. It made to poke out as Star was reloading, giving me the opportunity to put it down.

With two groups scrapped, I looked over Grape’s shoulder to see she had taken down seven. The eighth was shot in the back by whoever was over a few blocks over when it tried to take cover around the same corner it had just been shooting around.

“Grape, where are the other two?”

She spat out the trigger bit and reached for another set of sparkcells. “They ran off up the other street.”

“South or east?”

“East,” she answered.

Right. I turned around and looked back up the street we had just come up. “Get across this street ASAP and to the other corner. Run now.”

I covered our backs as the other two took off west before turning and following. Even with Grape and Star’s head start I was able to quickly catch up with them.

That went pretty much perfectly. I thought as stomped over the synth crawling around on the ground. But those two that had gotten away could still prove a problem and there was whoever the synths were fighting not taking kindly to our presence.

I switched to a brisk trot with my two charges in tow, casting my eyes backward. Approaching the corner of yet another warehouse, I heard voices coming from ahead, accompanied by pounding hooves crunching through snow..

I stopped instantly, Grape running into me. Fuck. Whoever it was, they were close. Way too close for us to hide and let them pass by. I tensed myself up and launched myself at the first sign of a snout coming around the corner.

The first thing I noticed was my lounge aimed for the head was actually going to hit them in the legs. Their very, very long legs. I latched onto the pony, holding tight as I leapt up and around their shoulder. The behemoth was turned into a fulcrum, my mass circling their body and spinning them around so that they fell onto their back. In an instant, I was sitting on their chest and they were on their back in the snow. One of their front hooves twisted around into an armlock and the other pinned under me with a wingblade resting against their neck.

I took a second to soak in the creature. Again, I was struck by her size, I was an extremely large mare and this mare dwarfed me easily. I felt like I recognized her too. She had a very intense set of pink eyes shooting beams at me from a light blue face. A pink, short, punk-ishly styled mane was tousled out behind her as were a pair of massive wings partly pinned under her. Her horn glowed angrily as she glowered at me, bringing my attention to one final point: the kitchen knife hovering directly in front of my face and the set of sharpened knitting needles pointed at my eyes.

“Get off of me before I peel that pretty face of yours off,” she growled at me.

I twisted her leg, getting a hiss of pain out of her, and glowered. “Try anything and I’ll gut you.”

“Harm so much as a hair on her head,” cooed a sharp Prench accent to my left, “et you’ll see your chance against this, putain.” I dared a glance over and saw another alicorn standing there. She was a deep green and had what looked like a shortened 20mm chain gun aimed at my head.

Looking beyond, I saw that there were three of them in total. The blue I was on top of, the intensive-fire green next to me, and a slender filly-like purple with a large doughy set of eyes behind the green. I recognised Lefty and Purple from the plaza where Star had her flare up.

“Hey, she’s my cyberpony and anyone who messes with her is going to answer to me, my super powerful, ultra-unstable magic, and 44 squared calibers of attitude,” declared Starprancer from behind me, puffing her chest out and waving her revolvers around in what I guessed was her attempt at being intimidating.

“Ooo! It’s the black mare and her filly from the other day,” called the unfittingly cheery voice of the purple behind me.

“Oh Princesses above, alicorns!” Grape angsted from behind Star. “I hate alicorns. Bunch of deranged, bipolar lunatics with super powers.”

“Cunt, I’ll turn you fucking inside out,” snarled the one under me, shooting a deadly glance at the green mare.

Star swung one of her revolvers to point at Grape and the other at the blue mare under me. “Hey, I have dibs on turning this fart muncher inside out the moment she does anything stupid.”

“Oh, the embryo can talk,” shot back Lefty.

Star grit her teeth. “Enough!” I snapped. “Grape, Star, stop engaging them.” I turned to the alicorns. “Which one of you is in charge?”

“She is.” The green one pointing the chaingun at my head gestured to the blue mare under me.

I glanced down. “You cool?”

“I’m laying in the snow under some icy bitch,” she snarked. “I don’t think I can get any cooler.”

I twisted her leg again.

“Fuck! Yes, I’m fucking chill as hell. Now get the fuck off of me.”

I let go of her leg and rolled off her chest, stepping back and next to Star. The blue and green coldly regarded us and we returned the glares.

“Yay!” The cheery voice ripped through the tension. “I’m don’t like having to go around fighting with everypony. Especially not you, you’re even more scary than the other robo-pegasuses since you can see through invisibility spells,” she commented, bouncing on her hooves.

“Laurel, shut up and stop fraternizing with the enemy,” snapped the light blue one as she stood up and shook the snow off of her coat, glowering at me the whole time.

“They’re not our enemies, Bubblegum. They’ve met us twice now and not shot at us once.” The oversized filly plopped down on her haunches and made to count with each of her hooves. “That’s a whole two times less getting shot at over like everypony else in the wasteland. They’re 200% nicer to us.”

“I understand what you try to say, Laurel dear,” the green with the chaingun said, “but I don’t think that’s how it works.”

“How it works doesn’t matter, Lourd! They’re nice and I like them.” Laurel smiled and pointed at us. “Well, black cyber baldy and the filly. The green mare looks kinda shifty eyed though.”

“Steel Rangers always are shriveled-up pussies when you peel ‘em out of their armor,” sneered Bubblegum.

My ears swiveled as I heard more hooves approaching. Snapping around, I was treated to another dozen alicorns coming up the street.

“I don't know if this is the best time to be making friends, Bubbles.” A dark green mare with red eyes and a minigun hovering in her magic quipped as she looked at me. Despite how startling her red eyes were initially, there was an intrigued, mirthful look to them that put me at ease.

“Shut up, Aegis,” Bubblegum snapped. “I'm not making friends, I'm dealing with a situation.”

“What situation?” came another voice from deeper in the group.

A tall (even by the alicorn’s standards), muscular mare emerged out of the group leaning against a green teammate. The purple’s eyes fell on me and flickered with a hint of shock, annoyance, and what might have been recognition. She looked to Aegis, “Keep the group moving forward, the phonies to the south were pulling back but they might still try sneaking up on us. We shouldn’t be too far away from the wrecked train now.”

She then faced me. The purple alicorn had a look I easily recognised: calm, collected, and stern with an undertone of fatigue and pain. She looked tired and was nursing a savage burn wound on her left shoulder. “Who are you and what are you doing this far north?” she asked.

“We’re survivors from the Stable trying to flee to the east,” I said, looking her in the eyes.

“You're running from the White Menace?”

“From Wintermail, yes.” I did my best to remain imposing to the group of giants. I had to, Star’s horn brushed against my belly and Grape crowded against my rump.

“We don’t want any trouble,” Star said from under me.

“Well, you’re in the wrong place for no trouble, sweetheart,” mused the purple, bending forward to look at Star and almost falling on her face when she lost balance.

“Saint, you’re in no condition to be dealing with this,” Bubblegum asserted, stepping up to hold the purple upright.

“I’m not dead yet, punk.” The purple, Saint, stood back up. “We need to get that train secured ASAP. It’s only a matter of time before Wintermail pins us down again, I want Laurel to be resting in the bliss when it happens.”

“Bliss?” Star asked.

“It’s our slang for radioactive waste,” answered Aegis..

I creased my brow, “What in Celestia’s mane they you trying to accomplish with that?” I mumbled to myself

“Alicorns are real freaks,” intoned Grape from behind me. “Rads don’t hurt them, they heal them and make them stronger. It’s freaky as hell.”

“Seriously?”

“It’s a gift from momma,” interjected Laurel. “She made us perfect so we could thrive in the the wasteland as much as possible!”

“Laurel,” hissed Bubblegum, “don’t call the Goddess that.”

“What? That’s what she was.”

“No!” shouted Saint, something that really seemed to take the wind out of her sails as she swayed on her hooves and nearly fell.

Aegis, the other green serving as a lieutenant of sorts, shot Laurel and Bubblegum a dirty look. “We are not, under any circumstances, opening that can of worms out here, you two. Now all of you move! The phonies are closing in on us, we need to find that train.”

“Pursuing the train may prove foolish, Aegis.” It was the green with the autocannon that spoke up. “The sun’s up and the storm’s blown over. We’re going to be caught in the open and gunned down. We need to find shelter. We can rest Laurel during the day and teleport out of here in the evening.”

“We won’t last until evening,” Bubblegum stated. “We’re low on ammo and all of us have been on our hooves for seventeen hours now. If we get pinned down again, we’re dead meat.”

As the trio argued, I looked past and noticed the rest of the alicorns. There were probably about two dozen all together, half seemed to be walking wounded, a few were carried on stretchers. The remaining half seemed to be split between the front and the back of the group, trying to protect their comrades from inevitable attack. They’re worse off than we are...

“The train you’re looking for,” Star interceded. “It’s back that direction about a block and another two to the left.”

The alicorns all looked at her for a moment in stunned silence. I could have sworn I saw the whole group of them blink in complete unison a few times.

“I could show you where, i-if you would take us with you,” Star added, scuffing a hoof in the snow.

There was another moment of stunned silence, this time including Grape and me. The wind whistling around the warehouses became deafening. I gave the filly a quizzical look, she wrapped her hoof around my leg and I assumed she squeezed while giving me a determined nod.

Fine. I gave Star a little nod of my own and we both looked up to the alicorns.

Bubblegum was the first to react, shaking her head, bearing her teeth, and shouting: “Are you insane? We’re not going-”

“If you help us there and ward off the phonies until we can escape, you have a deal.” Saint stood as upright as she could manage leaning against Bubblegum. “At least back to our base.”

“T-taking them back to the hive? You can’t be serious, Saint,” Bubblegum stammered.

“What the hell’s the hold up.” Another blue, lightly colored like Bubblegum but with a blond mane and green eyes, trotted up, a stretcher hanging off her back and dragging in the snow. She took in the three of us and her face curled up in contempt. “What the fuck are these and why are we talking to them.”

Bubblegum nickered. “Saint just decided to take them back to the hive in exchange for helping us go around the damn corner.”

“Seriously? You bleeding again that your brain’s not working anymore?” the blue asked. “That’s a level of stupid we only usually see from Bubblegum.”

“Fuck you, Primrose. I’ll fucking shank you with this Ranger bitch’s femur after I turn her inside out.”

“Hey, I told you you’re going to have to go through me if you want to touch her,” Star shouted from beneath me.

Bubblegum craned her neck down, turned her head so her ear was pointed at Star. “What was that, shrimp?”

Star scowled and her horn flared with magic. When she spoke again, I felt it more than heard it.

“I SAID: YOU TOUCH A HAIR ON THE STEEL RAIDER’S HEAD AND YOU’LL BE THE ONE TURNING INSIDE OUT! GOT IT, BITCH FACE! DON’T MAKE ME RAISE MY VOICE AGAIN!”

I think they heard you in Roam, Starprancer. I wasn’t aware cybernetic eardrums could ring but they seemed to be. Bubblegum honestly looked like her brain had been shouted into mush, her eyes were crossed. When she nodded, she nearly fell over before looking at the other light blue.

“Primrose, I need a medic,” she shouted at the top of her lungs. Which after Star’s Royal Canterlot Voice was almost quiet.

“I might have overdone that a bit,” Star mused. My hearing seemingly the only that could still pick up her talking voice.

“Very overdone,” I commented. “And what did I tell you about magic.”

“Sorry”

“That was so cool!” Laurel, the five-year old in a giantess’s body she seemed to be, bounded around Star jovially. “Can you teach me that spell? I wanna be able to talk super duper loud too! I can make decrees and someone is always gonna hear me if I need help!”

“Enough all of you,” I snapped, my teeth bared.

I’m not sitting through another round of this. I took a breath and went on. “The synths and Wintermail heard that, I wouldn’t advise standing around.”

“Serious, bitch alert,” mumbled Bubblegum.

“She’s right,” said Saint. “Laurel, Primrose, take the filly to the front and have her lead the way. Bubblegum, Lourd, Aegis, North, South, Clover, and the black mare; come here.”

I gave Star a quick hug before Laurel scooped her up and placed the filly on her back, trotting off to lead the group. The seven of us, plus Grape, then congregated around the purple mare. She looked me in the eyes for a second, “What’s your name?”

“Shadow, I guess.”

She quirked an eyebrow and I heard a snicker come from Bubblegum. “You’re sure of that?”

“No, but it’s what I’m going with.”

“Fine,” she shifted back and looked at the group in all. “The White Menace is still shifting most of her force over from the Southeast so that’s the direction the phonies will be coming from. The southern phonies pulled back in that direction after their flank collapse. The Menace is probably regrouping for another attack on us. I want you all to set up a defensive line at that rock quarry she attacked us from initially. It’ll give you a good view of that wide road the synths came up.”

“Right,” Bubblegum nodded.

“Between Lourd and Aegis, you should have plenty of firepower. And with a name like Shadow and a sniper rifle slung over her back, she should be a pretty good shot.” Saint quipped.

“Or a lot of hot air,” snarked Bubblegum.

“Too hot to trot is the term you’re looking for,” I shot back.

Saint smirked at that, and Aegis let out a snicker while Bubbles looked indignant. Saint continued: “I don’t want any risks taken, Bubblegum, you stay there and hold off the phonies but the moment it starts going south, high tail it out of there. Hopefully we’ll have some sort of fortification set up around the train.

“Get moving,” Saint finished.

Author's Note:

If you see any editing problems, go ahead and point it out in the comments please.

I've been wanting to write alicorns for ages. They were probably one of my favorite parts of the original story and I've not really seen them portrayed much. I'm looking forward to writing them, even if for a few chapters. Star's awake! I realized it's been like a year and a half since I actually wrote with Starprancer and that's depressing. I just really struggle to work on this at all. I have these burst where I only really want to do this but other times I actually start to hate it. I'm glad I'm still keeping at it though. It should start to get more interesting in the next few chapters with the Disciples and the Escape from the Crystal Empire.

Glad you've made it this far.

Up and Out :trollestia: