• Published 30th Nov 2011
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Fallout Equestria: Misfits - DancingOnTheAshes



Trown back out into the Equestrian wasteland, a lone healer finds his body irrevocably changed.

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Chapter 3: You are not alone.

Fallout Equestria: Misfits

By DancingOnTheAshes

Chapter 3: You are not alone.



"Thank you for saving my life, kid." I told the crying mare as I gently rocked her in my hug. I felt like a filly consoling a crying teddy ursa, a teddy that had just slit a raiders throat from ear to ear.

I could make out the words. "You're welcome." Between sobs, and I felt a little bad for getting her into this, but I was still thankful that she had saved me.

I held Runs Wild while she cried herself dry; and gently, but respectfully, aimed her away from me when the smell of the raider camp hit her like a brick, and she lost her dinner. There must be considerable work put into the stink emanating from the former raiders laying about us, it was the sort of odour that made your tooth enamel corrode and your sense of smell to throw in its towel.

I had gotten used to the smell a long time ago. Trader had a vengeful streak and there was a reason why few bothered to assault the caravan, raiders were usually the only ones crazy enough to try. So I occasionally ended up patching bullet wounds and cuts in the middle of raider camps. It wasn't unusual for ponies to throw up when first confronted with the fetid odour.

When she had finished I asked her if she was okay, she nodded and sighed then started to gag again. I chuckled at that. "Breathe through the mouth." I advised her.

Then I remembered something I had completely forgotten; I haven’t told her my name yet. That was more than a little embarrassing, the question was if I should use my real name or make one up? I thought about it for a while and settled for calling myself Curatie, an olden-pony word I once found in one of my grandmothers old lexicons. She had been a stable librarian and had brought a lot of old books with her when the stable broke down, at least that’s what that generation told us, nopony had been able to find Stable 10 and the older generation had refused to say where it was located.

"By the way," I told Runs Wild, she was cleaning herself up and trying to master the art of not breathing at all, she wasn’t making progress. "I haven’t told you my name yet. I’m Curatie."

"Pretty." She said around a water bottle, she swirled the liquid around in her mouth and spat it out. "What does it mean?" She continued before downing the entire bottle.

"It roughly translates to 'Healing'." I told her while I started to go over the camp. I made sure to stay away from the unexploded grenade and told Runs Wild to do the same, just in case. Then I came upon the raider with his leg shot off, he was unconscious and dying.

“So you’re a doctor?” She was rooting around in a couple of old ammo boxes, giving of the occasional ‘Snrrk’ as she tried to clear her nostrils.

“Yes.” I was still staring at the dying raider, a lot of old memories were being dredged up from the bottom of my rewired brain. One specific came up to the forefront, it was of the first time I took a life.

oooOOOooo

The healer in my hometown at the time was an old zebra mare, she had lost her mate a decade earlier and she had never had foals of her own, if this was by choice or because she was barren I cannot say, but I'm leaning towards the latter.

So the day I got my cutie mark and showed an aptitude for healing I was assigned to be her apprentice. She never approved of teaching me and I guess she would have preferred to tutor another zebra instead. Alas, since she was the only zebra within a hundred click's, and starting to get on in years, she didn’t have much of a choice.

And she never gave me an easy ride, kind words were as rare as charity and messing up while mixing a brew or preparing a procedure often earned me a hard rap on the head and a cussing out that could make a sailor blush. Thankfully she was never unfair and every time I solved a complex problem correctly, or could recite a list of herbs without mistakes, I earned a stiff nod from her. This was usually the equivalent of a fanfare.

It was a number of years later, and I was maybe a year younger than Runs Wild when it happened. Our village had a couple of spots within a days trot where taint could be found, these were clearly marked and everypony gave them a wide birth. But one day a new family of prospectors had apparently thought that one of the markers was fake for some reason, or they missed it, or they were just unlucky, and before they could get safely away their daughter was heavily exposed to the green mutagenic fluid.

Exposure to taint in large amounts without a swift cleansing spell results in a terrible fate, your body slowly morphs and mutates into something that can only be described as nightmare inducing, new limbs grow and the body twists into eldritch shapes.

Needless to say I did not know the cleansing spell, one of the few places in Equestria where there are practitioners capable of teaching it, is Tenpony tower. That was a two weeks journey by hoof, provided that you could afford the airship trip across the Neigherra Madre Mountains.

And it wouldn't have mattered anyway, because by the time the young mare was brought in she had begun to mutate so badly that I had to go out the back and say farewell to my breakfast.

*** *** ***

Later that afternoon me and my mentor was sitting around the dinner table in the old, run down, clinic kitchen. I was staring at the table surface and she was working with her alchemical set, distilling a clear liquid that I hoped, but not expected, to be a cure or something similar.

When she was finished she casually filled a syringe, she then gave it a halfhearted tap to remove a couple of bubbles before depressing the plunger until a small stream of liquid shot out, she took care to lean away from the tiny fountain.

Then she placed the syringe on the tabletop and pushed it towards me with a hoof.

"Whats in it?" I asked while at the same time I really did not want to know. The mixture and her solemn expression did not bode well, and I was a little scared.

"I am now going to teach you a very important lesson." And at this her expression showed the shadow of something. Sorrow? Regret? I could not tell. "Sometimes, the only way you can help somepony is to make sure that they do not suffer any longer than they have to." She then pointed at the syringe and added. "What is in that needle is a poison. One strong enough to kill a brahmin in a matter of seconds.”

I could not believe my ears, was the striped old nag telling me what I thought she was? Did she really expect me to do something like this? I glared daggers at my teacher as I growled. "Are you telling me to trot in there and murder her, just like that?"

"No!” She struck the table with her hoof. “I am asking you to help your young friend out of a fate worse than death." Her expression was unreadable as she explained to me. "And I am specifically asking you, my young lad, because you need to learn when this act might be necessary in the future. Because sometimes we cant help in any other ways, the wasteland is an unforgiving place. It’s filled with dangers that a healing potion or a poultice cant help. That even a megaspell cant repair, this is such a time."

The colors of the world faded and died, until there was only me and the syringe left. Me and a piece of metal and plastic containing liquid death. I felt the hoof of the reaper pony land on my shoulder, and I felt a lump form in my throat. I turned and looked into the operating room across the hall.

On the operating table was my friend, she now had far too many limbs and only remotely resembled a pony. A day or so ago she had been as normal as anything; she had been vibrant and proud because she was going on her first scavenging trip with her parents, and she was so exited had almost bounced on all four hooves around me and my sister.

I remembered the redness of her coat, and the leafy green of her mane, both of which was only visible in patches among the scales and scabbed skin. We had good-naturedly teased her and nicknamed her ‘Strawberry’ when me and my sister had met her the first time.

Now she was never going to smile again, never play roughhouse with us again. I’d never ki...

I stood up without a word and took the syringe in my mouth, then I walked across the hallway into the operating room. I’m unsure how long it took, the corridor seemed to lengthen while I walked.

When I finally stood by her side and looked into her eyes I could only see a creature of fear and pain, something that had suffered so horribly that it wasn't a pony anymore. Even if we had a miracle cure here and now there wasn't enough of her left, she was gone. And my heart cracked a little.

While standing out of range of the tentacles, I floated the syringe over to Strawberry and jabbed it close to where her heart was, I felt the same pain in my own chest as the needle pierced what once was skin. While tears streamed down my face I whispered loud enough for only her to hear.

"Goodbye, and please forgive me."

I gave my friend the only help I could give her.

*** *** ***

When it was done and life had ceased in the poor thing I slowly walked out, as I passed the door to the kitchen I magically flipped the syringe into the room there it stuck, point first, in the table.

"I'm going out, and I'm not coming back until tomorrow." I told my mentor, the old zebra had not moved an inch since I had picked up the tiny bringer of death, and now she looked at me with understanding filling her eyes.

"Of course." She said simply.

I walked out of the clinic and then trotted towards the bar across town. On my way I was stopped by my victims parents. "How is she?" Asked the weeping older mare.

"Not in pain anymore." I muttered, I could not look at them because of the shame that burned in me.

"Did you... was it swift?" Her husband asked, sorrow etched deep in his rugged voice. I could only nod.

My throat had cinched tight and now pained me as the knife twisted in my heart. I did not want to stand here, I knew what I had done was the only option left but I still felt like a killer, and standing here before Strawberry's parents was the worst sort of torment anypony could subject me to.

I started to walk around them; aiming for the bar again. When I passed the pair, Strawberry's mother whispered. "Thank you."

*** *** ***

I entered the old bar that smelled of alcohol and dirty hay, and walked up to the barmare. The barmare was middle-aged, with a muzzle like a hatchet, and the general demeanor of a battered grenade; ready to explode at the smallest provocation.

"Ah told ya Snakebite, y'all are still to young to drink here. Out with yeh." Her hoof edged towards the bat she kept under the counter for bar brawls and philosophical arguments, she was ready to chase me out with force if necessary.

I turned my golden eyes up at hers and she stared for a moment at me. "Oh, so it went like that, eh?" Some things travel at speed in small communities, and almost everypony knew of Strawberry's condition. The look in my eyes had confirmed her fate to the bartender. "Well only this once and first round is on me." Her face softened somewhat.

"Thank you Shot Glass." I managed to squeeze out before I trotted to the furthest corner of the bar top then sat down on an old pillow, I did not want to be disturbed.

And for the whole night I was left alone. Even Broken Bottle, the town drunk, didn't approach me to beg for a bottle cap. But this was probably because Shot Glass waved the baseball bat at him when he started to get close to me.

*** *** ***

The next day, after I had been brought down from the top of the radio tower where I had passed out, I returned to the clinic. My mentor had spent the night cremating the corpse and was leaning on her cane as she waited for me.

"So, Did you understand your lesson?" She asked as she studied the cooling ashes in the old furnace.

"Perhaps." I said as I sat down heavily beside her.

oooOOOooo

I relived the memory when I took care of the raider, breaking his neck was quick.

I had forgotten Strawberry’s real name, it was so long ago, and I had long since forgiven myself for the coup de grâce I gave her, but the memory still stung.

When we were done picking over the camp I levitated the corpses into the center and piled up anything that would burn, and somepony else who was less fortunate wouldn't want. Then I poured a bottle of apple whiskey over the pyre and set it alight with a log from the existing campfire. When I finished the sun had set and it was time to move back to the canyon.

"You ready to go?" I asked my companion as I pulled off my goggles, the slight tint in the glass made them unsuitable for the night but they had protected me well from the flash of the buckshot.

"Yeah." She murmured as she got onto her hooves, then she looked me straight in the eyes for the first time and blurted out. "Does it get easier?" I knew exactly what she was asking me.

I sighed before I answered with. "Yes it does, unfortunately." I started to walk back to Nowhere Canyon, she followed by my side. "But its when you start to like it that you should worry." I sure didn't like it one bit. But many times killing was a question of necessity or survival in the wasteland.

“It’s when you start to like it, when you start to lose who you are, that you become like them.” I nodded to the pyre. “To be fair not every raider choose that. Some are forced into it and learn to like it over time.”

Then she surprised me. "You have strange eyes." Okay, that came out of nowhere. I suspect that she wanted a change of subject and I was slightly relieved to talk about something less macabre.

I snickered before asking her. "I'm a big, winged, unicorn and you tell me my eyes are unusual?" I was happy that she was making small talk with me. A little bit of what passed for normality around here returned.

"Well, when Eulogy told me about The Goddess and the alicorns he has met, he mentioned that their eyes were usually ruby red." She informed me before apologising. "I'm just trying to get my mind off what happened earlier, sorry."

I dismissed the latter statement with a wave of my wing. "Don't be. Asking questions isn't a sin, no matter what some ponies say." Then I started thinking; my eye color was actually the only thing that hadn't warped, I had been too caught up in my changes that I hadn't noticed the one thing that stayed the same. Even my pupils had changed, to that of a reptile of all things, but not my iris.

"Golden eyes are pretty common where I come from. But I don't know why I still have them, everything else changed." I told her, the subject was starting to get uncomfortably close to home.

"What was it like to change?" She almost whispered.

I didn’t answer her, I pretended that I hadn’t heard the whisper. The vats of taint still waited behind the veils of sleep.

*** *** ***

We were nearing the gate again, our haul rattling in my pack and Runs Wild's saddlebags. I needed to get myself a proper pair, the duffel bag wasn't meant to be a permanent solution and started to annoy me a little.

"Our heroes return I see." Farsight was leaning against the railing while smoking a cigarette. "We expected you a little earlier, did something go wrong?" He looked from me to Wild, before understanding dawned on him. "Ah, I see you got your hooves bloody. First time for everything." He then kicked a lever behind him and the gate slid open.

"Taking care of the raiders went well." I informed the stallion. "Anything useful we brought with us and I burned the corpses as well as I could manage under the circumstances."

"Good good, then get yourselves some sleep," Farsight flicked some ash from the end of his cigarette down into a tin on his little table. "you both look like you could use it." He turned to Runs Wild. "If anyone bothers the lady about being inside the walls you tell them I gave the say so."

Great, I'm a lady now am I? I grumbled silently in my own head as I followed the white mare into the little settlement.

*** *** ***

The walk up the narrow street, if you can call the muddy road that, was pretty much what I had expected; Ponies slunk into small debris filled alleyways to avoid us and a few parents pulled their foals inside by their tails before slamming the sheet metal doors to their one story hovels.

Then came the shout of. "And stay out until you can pay for yourself!" As a dark brown shape flew past us out of a door then rolled several times as it hit the muddy road. The door belonged to a small bar with a flickering sign overhead that simply said 'BEER' in large, multicolored letters, although the R shifted color randomly and looked like it was about to break any time now.

"What was that?" I asked nopony in particular, the thing that was thrown out of the bar had taken me by surprise. I walked up to it, and it turned out to be a dark gray earth pony in a grubby brown robe.

"I think it's Eulogy." Runs Wild said uncertainly as she walked up beside me, then she took a closer look. "Definitely him." She concluded.

"Finally some luck." I floated the stallion up and shook him for a bit, when he failed to respond aside from some loud snoring I gave up. "Hmm, any cold water barrels around?" I asked for the sake of asking. The white mare looked a little startled at my actions.

"No." She frowned as she caught the sour beer and whiskey smell from the sleeping priest. “Why do you want to talk to him so badly?”

“I want to know everything he can tell me about Unity and The Goddess.” I shook him again a little harder. No reaction.

Runs Wild gave me a worried smile. "You could go in and ask the bartender for something, the refrigerator usually has a bottle of water or two."

I agreed with her. "That might work. Keep an eye on him." I said the last part over my shoulder as I dropped the priest and walked into the bar.

I had to duck my head to avoid hitting my horn in the low doorway when I entered. Then I stood for a second and got a good look at the interior. Nothing surprising about the bar's decoration, it was dark, grubby and smelled of sour beer and even sourer memories, a couple of prewar posters adorned the metal and wood panel walls. A lavender unicorn moved the dirt around on the old bar top with a filthy rag, presumably the bartender. I hoped that the rag wasn't used to clean the glasses or else I was going to drink directly from the bottle, thank you so very much.

What little noise that existed in the bar got strangled as the dozen or so patrons turned in their seats to look up at me. Most simply sat in astonished silence and the stallion nearest to me started choking on his beer when he saw me standing just two feet away from him.

Before I could give him a thump on the back to clear his airways, a small mare in the back drew a revolver in her mouth and aimed directly at me. Her face was a mask of terror as she sighted at me over the weaving barrel, she would probably slay the nearest poster rather than me but I did not like to gamble so I stood still, hoof raised and slightly worried.

"Put the blasted gun down Flour, before you shoot yourself in the hoof." The bartender growled at her. "This is the gal Farsight told me about." He turned at me with a mildly disapproving look on his face before continuing. "You and that little wraith cleared that raider camp out in the desert didn't you?"

I nodded, the stallion next to me was still choking and I was getting really worried that Flour wouldn't let me help him. "Oh just give the poor guy a thump will you. She cant hit a barn door with that thing." The bartender waved it off like it was an everyday occurrence.

I nodded and gave the choking stallion a calculated strike with my hoof, beer sprayed over the table he was sitting at as his throat cleared. This also caused the mare in the corner to twitch and fire.

Everypony in the bar checked themselves before we found the bullet hole; the bullet had struck right in the head of a cartoon zebra on one of the old Ministry of Peace posters, said poster was foot away from me, cold sweat ran down my sides under my duster.

"Luna dammit." The bartender growled as he walked up to the mare and wrenched the gun from her teeth. "That was the last damned time you fire this gun in here. Out with you before I start to get angry." If this was him being calm and collected I’d hate to see him pissed off.

"But my gu.." Flour started to plead with the unicorn before he cut her off.

"I'll take it as payment for your drinking. It'll cover your tab anyway. Now get out of here." He walked back to the counter and floated the revolver out of sight as he settled back down. "And don’t let me catch you with another weapon in here again!" He yelled as Flour slunk out.

She hugged the wall so tightly to avoid me that I thought that she would flatten completely, to spare her organs the discomfort of deforming I walked to the counter. The stallion I had given a thump on the back muttered a low thank you before silently walking out.

"Now, cant say that I approve, but Farsight said you were civil enough when you talked earlier so I'll take his word for it." The bartender reached out with a hoof, I shook it. "Now, as far as I understand it, you and Runs Wild went out to clear that little raider camp that has caused us so much trouble the past week. Everything went well I take it?"

"Yeah, everything went well." I lied, I wasn't going to mention that I, the big bad alicorn, had nearly gotten killed.

"Where is the little ghost anyway?" An eyebrow elevated itself as he asked the question.

"Just outside keeping an eye on that priest, I want to ask him a few questions and I could use something ice cold to help wake him up." By now most of the patrons had returned to their drinks, one or two was eyeing me suspiciously.

"Dunno why you want to talk to that drunk." The bartender said as he turned and opened a refrigerator behind him. I got a good look at it and saw that the appliance had been hooked up to an old spark battery.

"Here. On the house for services rendered." The stallion said as he levitated out four sparkle colas and a bottle of water then put them on the counter. The cold glass moistened in the air and small droplets ran down the bottles, the sight made my mouth water.

"Thank you." I levitated the bottles of cola into my bag and the water bottle floated behind me as I walked out. "I wont disturb you any more and wish you a good evening." This apparently didn't go over all that well but nopony specific spoke up.

*** *** ***

I unceremoniously poured half of the water bottle over Eulogy’s head as he lay slumped against a cliff wall behind a shack, Runs Wild stood in the entrance of the little one way alley. I had gotten a good look of his face and thought that he looked familiar.

"You are not going to hurt him, right?" She asked me. I heard a note of pleading in her voice.

"I'm not planning on it, but I might shake him up a bit." The grubby preacher started to sputter and grumble to himself so I have him a light telekinetic slap across his face, I had to concentrate to keep it light, because if I had just hauled of at full force I was afraid that I might take his head off. He woke up.

"Huh? Who? What?" His speech was lightly slurred and his eyes had problems focusing. I hauled him up to a sitting position before giving him the bottle to drink. He took it in his hooves and took a swig as if it was whiskey, then he spat it out and said in an irritated manner. "I ashed for vodka, not water." He then tossed the bottle aside, I deftly caught it as it tumbled down to the ground and levitated it above his head before pouring the rest out.

"Aaahh! Stop id!" He waved his hooves around to fend of the offending stream of liquid. He strained his eyes and tried to focus in the dim light. I levitated out a small, spark battery powered, lamp I had looted from the raiders and sat it down beside us before lighting it. He jumped when he took in my wings, and my horn.

"Hello." I said cheerfully. "We are going to have a little chat." I waved the whiskey bottle I had found in the desert in front of the priest. "Starting with The Goddess and everything you know about alicorns."

It turns out that what he knew wasn’t much when the layers of worship and blind faith had been peeled away and by the time he was done I was seething with anger. Mostly because everything he had told me was pretty much what I already knew. One big piece of news was that The Goddess’ presence had faded from his mind and he feared that she was now dead.

How he could still see her as a goddess I did not know and the pathetic pile of shit was crying as he told me this last part, crying because he feared that The Goddess was dead.

“You are telling me that this bitch of a Goddess paraded around like she owned the place and just forced ponies to join this unity crap?” I was struggling to not loose control.

My hard earned place in the caravan, my lively hood (because I doubted that many ponies would let me close enough to let me treat them), my cutie mark and my appearance was all lost to this unity crap, and now the whore was dead and it was all for nothing?

“It was for the greater good.”

I was tired and sore, and I couldn't help myself any longer. I snapped and pinned him to the wall as I exploded in his face.

"Greater good? Greater good?!” I roared less than a hoof in front of his face. “Look at how well that turned out, I can’t walk down a street without terrorising an entire village. I look nothing like how I used to. My hard earned place in Traders Caravan is most likely lost, and my sister wont even recognize her own brother anymore!"

I froze and my blood ran cold, my eyes widened as I mentally replayed the conversation and in horror realised what I had just said out loud. Runs Wild wasn't stupid, she could put two and two together. The priests eyes widened in confusion, as he struggled against the force holding him to the wall.

"Curatie?” She asked slowly.

Don’t say it! I begged in my head.

“Are you saying...”

Don’t!

“...that you used to...”

Please merciful Celestia don’t let her say it out loud! I was now pleading as my magical grasp on Eulogy faded and he slumped to the ground.

“...be a..." I was now panicking.

“DON’T SAY IT!” I screamed. And my stupid high pitched voice made it a female shriek.

My wings flared and with the aid of as much self levitation I could muster, I shot up into the air, my greatcoat whirled around me as I sped past the rooftops. Just the thought that somepony suspected I had been a stallion, that my body had been so violated, was enough to make me burn with shame as if acid had been poured down my throat. And here was a pony that outright knew. Eulogy was too snookered to actually work it out, but that I had blurted it into his face was still mortifying.

I had started to like Runs Wild, she was clever, competent and the sort of pony I would have loved to have at my back, more so by the fact that she had saved my life. I wasn't in love with her, or really attracted to her since I liked my mares to be more bodily mature and ‘rounded’ in the flank department. But I cared for her in a ‘little sister’ kind of way.

What would she think of me now, would she hate me? Would she loathe me? Laugh at me? Would she run around the settlement telling everyone?

She would probably not say anything to anypony, but my head was so far from clear that mud was transparent in comparison. I had panicked and fled to avoid her reaction and to avoid myself.

In the lone desert I had been unobserved by other ponies and because of that I had been able to bear it, to ignore it. But now my altered body shamed me beyond compare, tears streamed past my face now that nopony could see me and I shot past the canyon walls and landed awkwardly on a ledge. I slumped to my haunches and felt the pressure of the ground on that damnable place between my thighs. It was humiliating.

I wanted to scream and beat myself, but most of all I wanted to know why? Why me of all ponies? I had just been a nondescript healer from a little settlement on the far side of the Neigherra Madre. What would The Goddess gain by kidnapping me? If it had even been planned in the first place? Maybe I had just popped up when it was convenient, and an alicorn had just snatched me up during a break in the travels. Or it needed to fill a quota. I didn’t know.

*** *** ***

It was some time later and I had spent the time wallowing in misery, staring at the starless sky, when I heard a polite cough behind me. She was really good.

“Yes Runs Wild?” My voice was hoarse and cracked because of my crying and I didn’t turn my head. I couldn’t look at her and I could barely handle being looked at.

“How did you? Never mind.” Her hoof steps became audible as she walked up to me and sat down. How she managed to sneak with those iron hooves fascinated me, I suspected that taking down Radscorpions and Giant Geckos with only hoof claws and a machete required a frightening level of stealth, the bartender had even called her a ‘little ghost’.

“Why did you follow me?” I asked her when the silence had become deafening. I was still looking at the cloud cover, I looked up at least, the dark made it hard to see anything.

“Because you sounded hurt, and lonely.” There was no mention of what I had blurted out earlier in her answer.

Like a foal prodding a loose tooth I pressed with. “And what about what I said?” It was some sort of sick masochism I was subjecting myself to, yet I could not help myself from commenting on the elephant in the room, or rather, the ledge.

“Well, I had wondered why you talked like an old stallion.” I almost fell on my face then and there. “So when you said that your sister wouldn’t recognise her own brother it wasn't that big of a surprise.” I finally looked down in astonishment at the mare through my red rimmed eyes, she just looked out over the dark landscape spreading out beyond the little town below us. I was starting to feel really, really tired.

“Come on.” She said as she stood up and gave me a smile. “Let’s go get some sleep.” She started to walk off, aiming to go round the canyon and re-enter trough the gate.

I felt so grateful to have met her, and for her to not make a big deal of things. So it was perhaps because of that I lifted her up with my telekinesis and laid her down on my back. She squeaked and flailed frantically. “Watch that or you’ll nick something vital.” She calmed a little but still acted like a startled cat.

“What are you doing.” Her voice trembled as she reached around my throat to hold me tight.

“Ever flown before?” I was grinning like mad at her, and her eyes widened like dinner plates. Before she had the opportunity to hop off I stretched my wings and leaped into the air. She screamed as the wind hit us and I soared into the sky for the third time in my life.

This was bliss, or rather, this was choking. “Not so tight.” I tried to tell her as I flew over Nowhere Canyon, her eyes was shut and she didn’t seem to notice until I gave her a hard poke in the side.

“Huh?” Se looked at me. I repeated myself and she turned her attention to her front legs. With an embarrassed smile that didn't quite reach her frightened eyes he loosened her grip a little.

When I could breathe again I started to speed up, flying over the mountains and balancing on the desert winds. “I’m sorry for startling you, but I really wanted to show you this view.” Up here there was no complications, nopony looked at me. I almost did a leisurely barrel roll before I remembered I had a passenger, and combining her with the loot made flying a little sluggish.

Below us the silhouette of the mountains were visible and a thousand small lights from campfires and small settlements could be seen from all over the land. I pointed out New Appleloosa to her and gestured towards the Everfree forest where the fires still burned. She was transfixed by the view and drank in the dark landscape below.

“I wonder if the real night sky is as beautiful?” I heard her wonder, I didn’t have the heart to shatter the illusion and tell her that a lot of the campfires was undoubtedly raiders and slavers. Still, all good things has to end.

“Where is your house?” I asked as I started to descend. Trying to not wobble in the air.

She pointed out a small shack wedged behind two bigger buildings near the big two story building I had seen earlier and I landed easily and laid down so she could flop down on the ground.

“If you ever do that again without asking me, I’m going to tell on you.” She said angrily, this was somewhat spoiled by the huge happy grin on her white muzzle.

“Didn’t you like it?” I grinned back. “Anyway, I need to go and see if I can rent a room somewhere, thanks for the help today.” I said as I laboriously stood up.

“Don’t be stupid.” Runs Wild admonished me as she rooted around in a leg pocket and brought out a small key. “There’s room for you in here. Just kick off some mud before you get inside.” She unlocked the door and stepped inside.

I felt a bit awkward at that but did as she asked. The shack was small and only had room for a mattress, a footlocker and a table. A few old pillows lay around the table. I had to sit down to avoid taking up too much space.

“Doesn't look like there is enough room for the both of us.” I commented as I shrugged out of my duster and hung it on a hook welded to the wall. I looked around, searching for a spare mattress or something similar.

Runs wild was working her way out of her own armor, using her teeth to open buckles, straps and knotted strings, when she was finished I got a good look of her young body. She was slim and athletic, and her cutie mark showed the black silhouette of a running pony with three speed lines behind it.

Then as I sat there on the floor, swaying slightly, she tried to push me towards the mattress. I didn’t fully comprehend what she was doing. “Isn’t that your bed?” I asked before standing. Her small physique couldn’t even budge me.

“I’m grown up enough to share.” She said as she bullied me towards the bed, I flopped onto it and scooted up against the wall. “Now get some sleep.” She yawned when she had crawled onto the bed beside me, curling up in the hollow my body left. There wasn’t much room and pre-war mattress makers clearly didn’t expect something as big as an alicorn to use their wares.

I didn’t have enough energy to protest and soon I drifted off to sleep. The last thing I could make out before I drifted off into oblivion was my new friend muttering. “Big sis.” In her sleep.

While I slept, the vats of taint was there to greet me once again, but I wasn't alone this second time.


Footnote: Level Up
New Perk: Egghead – You will add +2 skill points each time you gain a new experience level.


Thanks to Rippedshadow for giving the thumbs up while I was working.
Official proof-reader: NeverKnown