• Published 19th May 2013
  • 2,315 Views, 94 Comments

Pony Und Panzer! - Diceman



Cutie Mark Crusaders pilot Silly weapons of war.

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Chapter VIII: Zombies and Mutants and Pandemics, Oh My!

Chapter VIII: Zombies and Mutants and Pandemics, Oh My!

"Hnmmm...high velocity ice cream cones..." Scootaloo mumbled as she rolled over in her sleep.

"That wouldn't work too well. I mean how would we keep them cold?" Sweetie Belle asked as she leaned over Scootaloo.

"Yeah and how would we stop ourselves from eating the ammo?Also if we fire that kinda ammo we would need to make it apple flavored." Apple Bloom added.

"That's easy, we just change the ammo flavor to orange sherbert or prunes." Babs Seed suggested, quickly gaining her a foul stare from Apple Bloom. "What? Prunes are nasty."

"My sister would sooner take a bath in a washing machine while it's on that have us fire anything not-apple related for ammo, especially oranges." Apple Bloom said. "Although auntie Orange would probably approve."

"Eeeyup!" Big Mac added.

Scootaloo opened her eyes and sat up, bumping her head on Sweetie Belle's forehead.

"Ow!" They both said in unison as they rubbed their heads.

"That's what you get for trying to listen in on her sleep talking, Sweetie." Apple Bloom said disapprovingly as she sipped her apple spice tea.

"To be fair we were kinda listening in too." Babs Seed added as she took another bite of a lemon filled doughnut.

Scootaloo sat up, still rubbing her head from the collision with Sweetie Belle. Dead across from her bed was a makeshift table and chairs made out of food crates from the pantry. The rest of the group had started breakfast without her.

"I hope you saved me some...also ummm..." Scootaloo scanned the room. there was no way there were fresh doughnuts in any of those crates, they would have gone stale a long time ago if her limited knowledge of baking was accurate. Not only were doughnuts present but Big Mac was eating what looked like apple porridge and the empty seat dead ahead of her had fresh cooked eggs and half eaten raisin bread on the plate.

Scootaloo looked around the room, there was nothing to really cook with; no stove, no toaster, not even a pan to cook in.

"So how did you guys get fresh food? There's nothing to cook with in here." Scootaloo asked.

"Silly there's enough food in here to last a year for all of us. Here, I'll show you." Sweetie Belle hopped away from the bed to the empty spot at the table and popped the makeshift seat open with her magic. She quickly peered inside, scanning the contents. "Are you okay with a lemon doughnut, English muffin, chive tea and scrambled eggs?" Sweetie pulled out a single cube, barely an inch across and set it on the table.

"No offense Sweetie but that's not even enough for a mouse to nibble on, let alone a full meal."

"Watch and learn Scoots, watch and learn." Sweetie Belle picked up a glass of water from the other side of the room with her magic and set the cube on the floor. She then leaned over, slowly easing the water out of the glass until a single drop made contact with the cube. In an instant a puff of purple smoke appeared and enveloped Sweetie Belle, causing a brief coughing fit. When the smoke cleared there was a plate of food on the floor containing all the previous items Sweetie Belle mentioned. Sweetie Belle quickly picked up the plate and set it on the makeshift table.

"See?" Sweetie Belle said confidently as she pointed at the food.

"I-I don't get it." Scootaloo said, while scratching her mane absentmindedly.

"It's kinda like dehydrated food in a way. You add water and it breaks a seal; I'm not too privy on how it exactly works but you can store a months worth of food in a single crate.." Sweetie Belle said.

"I heard some of the royal guard on boarder patrol carry them, though not any of the coast guard. Would be kinda odd to have cooked food on you all the time from being wet." Babs Seed got up from her seat and stretched her legs. "Well, I better get to work, those armor plates won't fix themselves ya know."

"I best get to work too. I don't need sis eaten me out." Apple Bloom said.

Babs Seed looked like she had just seen a giant spider, her face frozen in shock as she pointed at Apple Bloom.

"What?" Apple Bloom spun in place looking for what Babs Seed was shocked about. "Whats wrong Babs?"

Sweetie Belle casually got up and walked up to Apple Bloom and inspected her flank. "Well it's not a cutie mark, maybe she is shocked at what you said. I think the proper terminology is 'chewing me out'."

"Aren't they the same thing?" Apple Bloom said.

"How would I know? I never heard of that terminology before." Sweetie Belle replied.

"Babs, what does 'eaten me out' mean?" Apple Bloom asked.

Babs Seed blushed and turned away. "Your a bit too young to know what that is just yet. Heck if my mom knew about it I would be grounded forever. Let's just forget about it and get to work." Babs Seed walked out the room, stopping to motion the others to follow. Apple Bloom and Sweetie Belle shrugged and followed her out the door, Apple Bloom stopping and turning to Scootaloo.

"You finish up breakfast first. Can't have a day of work without a good first meal, right?" Apple Bloom smiled and walked out the door, leaving Scootaloo alone with Big Mac.

Scootaloo began to eat her English muffin when she noticed a worried look on Big Mac's face. "Whats wrong Big Mac?"

Big Mac did his best to change his expression back to his typical far-away look but quickly realized that Scootaloo could see right through him. "I guess I'm a tad worried. Apple Jack is running late today, normally she is done with all the mornin chores by nine at the latest. That and Babs pickin up dirty terminology from the city. Her moms gonna hear an earful the next time I see her."

Scootaloo looked up at the clock above the door. It was already half past ten. "Maybe she got held up today. Some of the chickens have been getting unruly lately. Also what dirty terminology?"

"Yeah, I'm sure that's it and never you mind the what terminology, yer too young to know it. Anywho, enjoy yer breakfast, I gotta watch the fillies to make sure they don't hurt themselves." Big Mac smiled before walking out the room.

Scootaloo took a few bites of her food before setting it down and sighing to herself. "I wonder if he meant 'eating me out' was the bad term." Scootaloo thought hard for a moment. "Must be a reference to eating at a dirty restaurant."

***Elsewhere***

Apple Jack tossed the last bail of hay from the pile into the barn, wiping her brow before closing up the doors and moving to the other pile on the opposite side. "Phew, I wonder while I feel so dizzy today, must be all the sun I'm gettin." Apple Jack stumbled a bit to the side before getting her bearings. "Hey Rarity! You almost done over there?"

Dead across from Apple Jack, Rarity was in a rubber suit spraying down the last of the pigs. She turned off the hose and pulled back her hood. "Yes I am almost done. Why did I have to do the dirty, dirty work while you get to toss nice clean bails of hay?"

"Be- becuase..." Apple Jack stumbled a few steps to her right and then a few to her left. Her head felt heavy and her throat numb. The world around her began to spin and blur; before she knew it she felt her body painfully collide with the ground.

"Apple Jack!" Rarity yelled to her, although the sound was muted, as if she was calling her name from across the town.

Rarity charged up to Apple Jack and managed to sit her up. However the first thing she noticed when she touched her was the sheer amount of heat coming from her body.

"Great scott darling, you are burning up!" Rarity put a hoof over Apple Jacks head. "Yes, you are almost as hot as a used toaster dear. I need to get you to the hospital asap!" Rarity lifted Apple Jack up with her magic and set her in an empty hay cart. She quickly fastened herself in and began to pull Apple Jack down the road, slowly.

"My word have you been putting on weight?" Rarity said as she broke a sweat trying to pull her friend. "I Swear darling, I told you before, all those apple Treat's go to your hips."

"Sh-shadup. What about the workshop, I ain't got time to be sick...and It ain't fat, sir mix match a lot says big behinds are a good thing." Apple Jack said drearily.

"Pfft what would that has-been know about a proper ladies posterior. Anyways that silly workshop can wait, Your health comes before that stupid competition." Rarity put herself into high gear, running down the road to the Ponyville hospital. "Hold on just over this hill and--" Rarity stopped too fast, flipping Apple Jack into the air but managing to catch her with her magic before she hit the ground. "What in blazes is going on?"

A long line leading up the the entrance of the Ponyville hospital was being patrolled by doctors and nurses in what looked like hazmat suits. One of the nurses quickly approached Rarity, holding a stamp in her teeth, like lightning she quickly stamped both Rarity and Apple Jack on the chest with a mark that looked like a bio hazard symbol.

The mare set the stamp down and held up her hoof. "By order of her majesty Celestia you are hereby quarantined."

"But why, and will this black ink come out? It really doesn't look good on my coat." Rarity complained as she attempted to brush the mark away.

"You are both infected with unicorn flu, a very severe variant of it." The nurse staid staunchly.

"But I have all my shots! How can I be infected if I show no symptoms?" Rarity asked.

"Yeah I think the only sick pony here is me...oh, and I guess all those others in line being worked over by yer staff." Apple Jack said, giggling a bit before going into a coughing fit.

"We will do blood tests later to determine if you are a carrier or not. Until then you are to wait in line while medicine to relieve symptoms is administered." The mare pointed to the back of the line.

"Can I ask a question miss?" Apple jack asked wearily.

"Make it quick I have too many ponies to treat and not enough time to get to them all."

"Why is the line so long?" Apple Jack asked.

"Did you eat lead paint chips as a filly or something?" The mare rubbed her forehead in frustration. "I'm sorry about that, The entire staff has been working double shifts since midnight last night. We are all stressed out and frustrated to say the least. A state of emergency was declared this morning due to so many being sick. The flu pandemic has spread all over town and nearby villages, the hospital is at capacity but we are trying to convert the cafeteria and emergency basement into additional wards."

"That bad?" Rarity asked.

"Worse, every other town in Equestria is reporting pandemics. The vaccines we do have are out of date and limited and well...we are just not equipped to handle a catastrophe of this scale."

"Is there any home remedies you can recommend? Perhaps some orange juice and bedre-" Rarity heard a growling behind her when she mentioned the words 'orange juice' and 'bedrest' in the same sentence. "Oh, sorry dear. Forgot you're a fruit critic."

Apple Jack puffed her cheeks out angrily but remained silent.

"Sadly no. We do not suggest you do anything until we have you both checked out." The nurse replied.

"I guess we just wait in line then?" Apple Jack asked drearily.

"Yes, nurses will be by to test the severity of the infection. We will then administer the proper procedures depending on what the patient needs." The nurse gave a quick glance at Apple Jack. "Since I'm already here I may as well explain."

"If you would be so kind." Rarity said.

"I better explain it while I do the test, I have sinking feeling she's worse off than she looks." The nurse walked up to the cart and adjusted her mask. "Please hold out your hoof."

Apple Jack held out her hoof but looked so weak that it was drooping slightly. The nurse reached in her backpack and pulled out a syringe. Rarity quickly took two steps to the side nervously.

"It's only a needle Rarity, no need to get all nervous." Apple Jack teased.

"The sight of blood makes me a bit faint." Rarity smiled nervously.

The nurse pulled the cap off the syringe and poked it in just above Apple Jack's left hoof and drew some blood. Rarity looked as if she ate too much as she turned away just as the nurse brought the syringe up to her face to put the cap back on. The nurse then set it aside and reached into her pocket and pulled out a sealed alcohol gauze. She opened the packet and wiped away the blood,making sure that the puncture wound was clean.

"Hold it there for a minute or two." The nurse turned away and yelled. "Red Heart! I need you to test this one!"

A mare with a snow white coat, pink mane and tail and a Red cross surrounded by hearts cutie mark trotted toward the group. As she got closer it turned out her backpack was much more than a simple backpack. It had what looked like a solid oak casing surrounded by copper pipes that went in at odd angles and a single massive brass tube at the top. On the back there were what looked like aluminum tubes that had steam leaking from them.

"What is that terrible looking thing on her back?" Rarity asked.

"That 'terrible' thing as you so put it is our pathogen detector." The nurse said sternly.

"It looks like it was built in the middle ages or something. It's just so...so..."

"Steam-punk?" Apple Jack said wearily, interrupting Rarity.

"Yes, whatever that is." Rarity said.

Red Heart frowned as she approached the group, apparently she heard what Rarity was saying about her equipment. "I'll have you know it's not our fault small towns get the least amount of funding when it comes to equipment. Also we are already stretched thin with so many ponies coming in sick, we used whatever equipment we had on hoof...even the ancient stuff in storage." Red Heart turned her attention to her comrade. "You need a test performed nurse Sun Joy?"

"Yes, I need this sample tested and the white unicorn quarantined for additional testing." Sun Joy pointed to Rarity who puffed her cheeks out angrily at the accusation.

Red Heart took the syringe from Sun Joy and tossed it into the brass tube on top. The machine began to whirl and scream, puffing steam out the tubes and leaking water from the copper pipes. "This may take awhile, speed is not this contraptions strong point I'm afraid."

"So...nurse Sun Joy was it? What stage do you think I'm at?" Apple Jack asked.

"You can just call me nurse Joy, the only pony that ever calls me by my full name is Red Heart here." Sun joy stared at Red heart who smiled meekly in return.

"Sorry I was raised to use everyponys full name. It's a respect thing. Besides don't the fillies keep asking you to heal their pok'mans or whatever?" Red Heart said.

"I wish I knew what they were referring to so I could do so. Anyways, there are four stages to this particular disease. Stage one is just a mild fever and some coughing, it can be cured with our current medications and bed rest for a week. Stage two Is the same with the exception of nausea added into the mix, that requires stronger medication and more bed rest." Nurse Sun Joy said.

"Oh a week? That's not too bad I guess I haven't been feelin nauseous or anything." Apple Jack said.

"Well...That's why we have to test, in cases where a very physically fit pony is infected the disease can accelerate to stage three although that is fairly rare."

"And stage three is?" Rarity asked, tapping her hoof on her chin in suspicion.

"Muscle weakness, fainting spells, dizziness and extreme fatigue. Stage four is unconsciousness, possible coma and the disease starts to do damage to the liver, ultimately resulting in death." Nurse Sun joy said with a grim expression on her face.

"Wait...is there a treatment if it gets that far? You didn't mention any treatments." Rarity looked at Apple Jack, worry ingrained deeply in her face. "There is a treatment right?"

*Beeeeeeeep*

The machine on nurse Red Hearts back began to beep and flash a red light. A slip of parchment began to print out of the side of the contraption. Making a racket not unlike two robots screeching at one another. Red Heart leaned over and bit the parchment, pulling it out with her teeth and read aloud. "Patient is in the end stages of...oh my, stage three."

"Rarity was it? I want you to pull her around to the loading bay in the back of the hospital. We need to get her into intensive care immediately." Nurse Sun Joy pointed Rarity to the back of the hospital.

"I don't get it Sun Joy, she makes fifth pony today that is this advanced. This is entirely unheard of for this region." Nurse Red Heart said.

"I know what you mean, I haven't seen an outbreak this bad since the hippo pox in the Zebra lands across the sea. Follow me Rarity." Nurse Sun Joy headed off in the direction of the loading dock, Rarity struggling to keep up.

"Oh please tell me there is a treatment? There must be, otherwise you are just leading her to her deathbed." Rarity said as she followed alongside Sun Joy.

"There is a treatment and since you are probably a carrier already the treatment... is you." Sun Joy pointed to Rarity.

"Huh?" Rarity said, a confused look on her face.

"Yes, if a unicorn gives up his or her magic for a period of time to the infected they pull though just fine but the unicorn in question will be without magic and possibly sick in bed with the infected as well." Sun Joy directed the cart behind the hospital and pulled out a red and green card from her pocket. She then swiped it though a small slot on the back door. The door opened up to reveal a spacious elevator.

"I didn't know this was back here, where does it go?" Rarity asked.

"We have a few floors below as a shelter in case of natural disasters where we can move patients if they are not fit to leave the hospital or be transferred any distance." Sun Joy motioned Rarity to get on the Elevator as she backed the cart in slowly.

"Well are you coming or?" Sun Joy asked.

Rarity stood in place, apprehensively staring at the elevator. "What happens if a unicorn doesn't give up her magic to whomever is sick? Are there any alternatives?"

Sun Joy shook her head. "I'll put it bluntly as I can. If you do not give your magic to your friend then she will die before the next fortnight. There are no treatments for someone of her advanced condition and not enough unicorns available for everypony. You need to make the decision now while the backlash from such a treatment doesn't leave you both out of action for a long period of time."

Rarity walked onto the elevator with a stride that sent a clear message of determination. "I never turn my back on my friends. Press the button to get us where ever we are going, if Apple Jack is going to be sick then we should be sick together." Rarity beamed at Apple Jack whom managed to smile back meekly.

"I owe ya one Rarity but is yer dress shop going to be okay without ya?" Apple Jack asked curiously.

"I'm sure Sweetie Belle can handle the shop...while I'm." Rarity put her hoof onto her face and dragged it down slowly. "What did I just say? I really must be sick if I think Sweetie Belle can run the shop..."

***

"Ahh aah choo!" Sweetie Belle sneezed as she adjusted the magic fuel pump on the engine block.

"Bless ya Sweetie." Apple Bloom and Big Mac said automatically. "I guess all the sawdust from my workstations gettin over there huh?"

"Either that or Sweetie has a boyfriend that we don't know about talking about her." Babs seed added.

"Nah I don't see that happening anytime soon. All the colts find Sweetie Belles voice too squeaky for some reason," Scootaloo added.

"To be fair they don't like you much either Scoots. They think you are too much of a tom boy, don't know where they get that from. You seem perfectly normal to me." Sweetie Belle said as she adjusted the pump again. "Hey has anyone seen granny Smith lately? I thought she went to check out what everypony was firing for ammo this morning."

"She did but knowing her she's being too thorough or she found a nice spot to take a nap, probably both." Big Mac stood up and stretched. "Could you gals kindly stop workin while I go check on her. I can't have y'all doing any machine work with no supervision and all."

"Big Brother, yer not plannin on just runnin off to do yer chores at home are ya?" Apple Bloom said as she glared at Big Mac suspiciously.

"N-noooo." Big Mac replied with a sheepish grin, fooling absolutely no pony.

"Big Mac, you should know by now that anypony in the Apple family is terrible at fibbing. Honestly I can see the beads of sweat from over ere." Babs Seed pointed to a few droplets of sweat forming just below Big Mac's neck.

"Okay y'all got me fair and Squuaare!" Big Mac fell over and landed face first on the floor as granny Smith swung the door open angrily.

"Of all the might stupid stubborn ponies I had to deal with today..." granny Smith looked around the garage. "Hey wheres Big Mac? Isn't he supposed to be watchin you youngins?" Granny Smith heard a groan from under her and she looked down to find her hooves firmly planted in Big Mac's back. "Oh, there you are."

"Big Mac the carpet, reportin for duty ma'am." Big Mac said sarcastically.

Granny Smith stepped to the side to let Big Mac up. "Sorry about that sonny, I thought we had shag carpet or sumthin for a minute there."

Big Mac stood up while rubbing his back. "I'm just glad yer not as heavy as Apple Jack, hoof prints in my back for a week isn't exactly a good fashion statement. Anywho how did watchin other ponies fire stuff go?"

Granny Smith puffed her cheeks out indignantly. "Buckin awful. All the ponies are registerin fer private ammunition tests now. They were gettin all uppity about me inspecting their spent ammunition."

"Why Granny?" Apple Bloom asked.

"They don't want nopony stealin their ideas for when we all have to battle one another in the elimination round. One of em even called me a darn spy." Granny Smith had veins sticking out of her temples and looked angry enough to pop one.

"So nothing? Not even a peek?" Babs Seed asked.

"Well, something good came of it. Twilight, Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash all offered to help test and share results, much to the protests of their teammates though. Twilight quieted the decentin opinion right quick though. Fifteen or more heads is better than just seven or somethin like that." Granny Smith scratched her chin absentmindedly, staring off into space until Big Mac poked her.

"Huh, what? Where am I? Chalk tastes good." Granny Smith blurted out.

"Granny, can you watch the youngins for awhile? I need to go check on Apple Jack. She's running a might bit late today with her chores and I still need to do mine."

"Really? That's odd. A whole mess of ponies were missing today compared to yesterday. Only a dozen or so where gun testin and not a single one was lined up for drivin. I wonder if Pinkie Pie is throwing a party or sumthin." Granny Smith pondered. Anywho I need a nap, could the youngins stop workin till you get back?"

"That's okay granny, we need to get out of this stuffy shop anyways. The smell of saw dust is startin to make me a bit dizzy." Apple Bloom said.

"Yeah, I'm worried about Apple Jack too. She's usually really punctual about these kind of things." Babs Seed added.

"I bet it's those unruly chickens again. Always stirring up trouble." Scootaloo said accusingly.

"Why don't you soothe the qualms of your subjects then Scootaloo? I'm sure they can use a leader." Sweetie Belle said while smirking at Scootaloo.

Scootaloo rolled her eyes. "Really, a chicken based joke again? Isn't that getting old yet?"

"Nope, if the opportunity presents itself for a joke, then take it I say. Even if the joke is a little corny." Sweetie Belle replied.

"Anyways crusaders, we could use the break. Maybe help my sis if the farm is giving her trouble." Apple Bloom looked at Big Mac. "We'll follow ya home big brother, granny needs a rest and we're all worried about Apple Jack."

"Well then I guess it's settled then. Granny I'll be back in a jiffy. You girls stay close to me until we are out of sight of the testing range alright?" Big Mac waved as he left, granny smith returning his wave as she stifled a yawn with her hoof.

"Actually Big Mac, I wanted to talk to Twilight and the others about any spare parts they may have if that's alright with you." Babs Seed looked toward the room where granny Smith went. "Also I gotta make sure granny doesn't accidentally do something silly while you all are away. I coulda swore I saw her gnawing on one of the pressed boards yesterday."

"I suppose that's fine. We will see ya later then." Big Mac replied.

The group headed outside past the driving range to find something a bit odd. Granny Smith was absolutely correct, the firing and driving range were practically ghost towns compared to the previous day. Gone was the revving of engines, the air no longer reeked with the smell of used unicorn magic. As they walked along the driving range they noticed the firing range was nearly the same. Only a few vehicles were active testing ammo and gun configurations. It was almost as if every other pony decided to take the day off.

"I don't get it big brother. Where is everypony?" Apple Bloom asked, staring eagerly at her older brother.

"I don't know. Maybe there's a party in town or sumthin? Kinda seems odd that Pinkie wouldn't send out invitations though." Sweetie Belle said.

"Maybe we should swing by town before heading to the farm big brother?" Apple Bloom asked.

"Hnmmm... that would be the long way around though. Tell ya what me and Sweetie Belle will go check what's holdin Apple Jack up at the farm while you two go find out why the testin range is a ghost town."

"Alrighty then, we will swing by town and then head to the farm as soon as we figure what the buck is goin on."

The groups nodded in agreement and went their separate ways.

"So Scootaloo, how is the gun work coming along?" Apple Bloom asked.

"I guess somewhere between an angry version of 'meh' and terrible. The 75 millimeter gun that we have is kind of short barreled and the rifling is all wrong according to my books. I know the folks in Canterlot are supposed to be professionals at making all kinds of replica items but they really jumped the shark on this thing. It's almost like they didn't care about this thing and just tossed it together at the last minute."

"Sweetie said somethin similar about the engine parts. The grain was all wrong, gaskets missing here and there and the magical fuel pump system was entirely reversed on one side. My hooves are killin me from all the extra part fabrication I been doing." Apple Bloom stopped to pick a splinter out with her teeth from just above her front right hoof.

"Well If ya need help I'm free, it's not like that gun is worth messing with and it will probably be a couple days before they drop off that 90 millimeter cannon for it. I mean I did intentionally fail a science test so I could do wood shop ya know."

"I guess so but it just seems we are throwing away our summer for this." Apple Bloom said glumly. "As much as I want my cutie mark I like havin fun too."

Scootaloo stopped at the edge of a hill overlooking the town. "Don't worry, the work is only until it's finished and maybe some tune ups here and there." Scootaloo looked down from the hill and right into town square by the mayors tower. The entire market in the center of town was empty, she could had even sworn she saw a tumble weed roll down the street.

"Apple Bloom, take a look at this." Scootaloo motions Apple Bloom up to the top of the hill.

Apple Bloom stood there in stunned silenced for a brief moment. "Where the blazes is everypony? There should be dozens of ponies shopping and a whole bunch of shop stalls already set up."

"I know what you mean. Either Pinkie Pie's parties have become exceptionally better to the point where no one can resist them or..."

"Or what Scoots?"

"Or the zombie apocalypse has swept through Ponyville. A virus unleashed by the evil parachute corporation."

Apple Bloom rolled her eyes. "You really need to lay off the vidya games Scootaloo, everypony knows zombie ponies taint real."

"Well there's only one way to find out. We head into town and if we see zombies, run to the weapons shop as fast as we can." Scootaloo proclaimed proudly.

"Ponyville doesn't have a weapon shop Scoots, unless you count cafe Dumount's fire chili; that stuff can burn the hairs off yer coat." Apple Bloom said, shuddering.

"Really? That classy place on the edge of town with the bad poetry, silly hats and jazz music that Rarity frequents? I didn't think you ever been in there, Apple Bloom."

"I went with Sweetie Belle and Rarity once, they have full menu that I couldn't make sense of. It was all in fancy so I just pointed to something at random."

"Was it good?" Scootaloo asked.

"The first couple bites taint bad but after that it's like somepony shoved a hot poker down yer throat. I couldn't even taste anything for a week after that." Apple Blood rolled her tongue in her mouth absentmindedly, remembering the feeling.

"I'm not actually sure if zombies can actually taste anything. Any other plans?" Scootaloo asked.

"We can always just run, we don't even have to gallop either. Last I checked zombies are really slow."

"Well what are we talking here; Romero shambling hordes or 28 days later angry speed zombies?" Scootaloo pondered.

"If we go though every type of zombie there is we will be here all month, Romero zombies are the only zombies in my book." Apple Bloom said.

"Fine, fine. Let's just get down there and see what or who we can find."

The two fillies slid down the hill and walked into town. Scootaloo took the lead while Apple Bloom walked lightly behind her, apprehensively. It didn't take them long to discover that most of the town was completely empty. Doors were locked or boarded up, there were bio-hazard signs on many of the structures and the hustle and bustle of Ponyville gave way to the cold, sharp howling of wind between the buildings.

"Scoots, this is creepin me out." Apple Bloom said nervously.

"Having second thoughts about zombies existing are we?" Scootaloo teased.

"N-no!" Apple Bloom replied curtly. "Well...maybe a little."

The two fillies explored the town, not finding any signs of life anywhere.

"You know for being a zombie apocalypse we have yet to come across so much as a rotten entrail. You would think the shambling hordes would drop teeth, hair and maybe a kidney or two but there isn't anything on the ground but dirt and a few weeds." Scootaloo looked around again. They had made it to the town square but all the stalls were missing and every single building, including the mayors office was closed.

"Scootaloo can we leave already? This is really eerie." Apple Bloom said nervously.

"Fine, I'll lead the little chicken home." Scootaloo smiled, gloating at Apple Blooms insecurity. She wasn't watching where she was going when she bumped into something, knocking her down. Scootaloo shook her head while rubbing her right temple.

"Hey, watch where you're..." Scootaloo stared up into two large glass eyes. A creature that was much taller than herself was leaning over her. It had metal rings where the face would be, metal eyes lashes and an bright sunshine yellow coat. "Going?" Scootaloo swallowed some air and let our a blood curdling scream.

"EEEEEEE!!!!!" The pitch was so high that the creatures glass eyes began to crack, as well as one of the windows near by. The creature staggered back in pain, letting out a few muffled curses as Scootaloo shot upright and ran past Apple Bloom, grabbing her by the tail as she flapped her wings frantically for extra speed.

"What's goin on Scoots? What was that thing?" Apple Bloom asked nervously.

*ptah* Scootaloo spit Apple Bloom's tail out and slowed down, allowing her to run along side as they galloped though town.

"I never saw this coming. I mean I've run the probability of an alien apocalypse, a robot apocalypse and even a giant radish apocalypse but I never expected this."

"Expected what Scoots? What was that thing?" Apple Bloom asked again.

"A radioactive mutant, Apple Bloom. I remember them in that one game at the arcade, 'Underlands 2: Revenge of the Radioactive Aussie's'. That thing looks almost exactly like one of the mutant things in that game." Scootaloo and Apple Bloom rounded another corner and came face to face with another one of the yellow creatures.

"Cheese it!" Scootaloo shouted as she made a hard left turn down another alleyway, followed by Apple Bloom. They quickly found themselves with another one of the creatures blocking the way. They took another hard right turn into another alleyway but found a dead end. Scootaloo and Apple Bloom turned around to run out of the closed alley to find the way back blocked off by the encroaching creatures. Three of the creatures stood at the end of the alley, slowly walking toward the two frightened fillies. One of them, the one with now cracked glass eyes held up a metal box with strange metal rods protruding from the top and spoke in a low raspy voice.

"The readings show no spores in the area. Shall we inoculate these two?"

"Yes, let's do so. We should spare them the torment..." The one in the center said with what sounded like a British accent.

The creature in the center reached over to one of the others saddle bags and pulled out a syringe filled with a bluish liquid. He had one of the others pull the cap off and push on the end to let out any excess air.

"Hold still young ones, his will only prick you for a-"

"You won't turn me into a mutant! Charge!" Scootaloo yelled as she rolled forward, jumped into the air and landed a devastating spin kick to the face of the creature with the British accent, sending the syringe flying into the nearby brick wall; smashing it to pieces. Scootaloo landed and tried another kick only to be grabbed midair by magic where she struggled to land punches.

"Run Apple Bloom, they got me in a hold beam! Save yourself!" Scootaloo yelled back at her friend.

Apple Bloom looked for an opening in the group when she noticed the pony Scootaloo kicked was getting up. She noticed that it was a pony she had seen before. An older stallion with a light brown coat, blue eyes and a spiky dark brown swept back hairstyle.

"Dr. Hooves?" Apple Bloom asked.

Scootaloo stopped struggling and looked behind her. The creature she had kicked wasn't a creature at all, but a pony that occasionally visited from Hoofington.

"Have you gone and lost your tiny little pegasus mind!?" Dr. Hooves shouted angrily. "What in the bloody hells did I do to deserve a kick in the head?"

"Y-you're not a radioactive mutant...are you?" Scootaloo asked squeamishly.

"A what?" Dr. Hooves asked, looking aghast.

"A radioactive mutant, you know, from the Underlands. Except you know, they have a different accent."

Dr. Hooves shook his head. "What in blazes put that into your head? Have you never seen a hazmat suit before?"

"Wait, Scoots. I heard of those before, they are used to protect ponies from disease and chemical spills. Though I never seen one before." Apple Bloom said.

Dr. Hooves sighed dejectedly. "I see, you thought we were monsters out to get you. I can understand that feeling, I've had to run from cyber-" Dr. Hooves stopped himself. "Never-mind that. This entire area is off limits until it is cleared of infectious spores."

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom stared at one another.

"Infectious spores?" They both asked together.

"Yes, spores. Many ponies are infected with a flu that typically only harms unicorns. Most of the town is at Ponyville hospital getting treated for various stages of the affliction. Me and my comrades were tasked with escorting ponies out of town and giving them injections before they get sick. Speaking of which I have to get a injection now becuase you knocked the cap of my suit clean off." Dr. Hooves walked over to one of the nurses whom quickly pulled out a needle and stuck him in the size of his neck with it.

"Anyways, you two are next." One of the other ponies handed the doctor a syringe.

"Hey now how do I know you are qualified to poke me with that thing?" Scootaloo said accusingly, failing to cover up her nervousness as she stared at the syringe.

"Oh, how rude of me. I forgot to introduce myself, I'm Dr. Hooves but you can just call me doctor." Dr. Hooves took a quick, polite bow.

"Scoots, we seen him around town before remember? Back when we were trying to find Ms. Cheerilee a special somepony for hearts and hooves day." Apple Bloom said.

"Oh, I remember now. He ran by you and Sweetie Belle and splashed you with mud." Scootaloo looked at the doctor. "They said you were too splashy."

"Sorry about that, I had to deal with a problem of a...cylindrical nature, but that's another story entirely. So will you two get your shots and be on your way out of the town or do we have to chase you down again?" Dr. Hooves nodded to his two assistants, each pulling out a syringe.

Apple Bloom walked forward. "Did you say everypony is at the hospital?"

"Mostly everypony. I suggest after you receive these shots, you head down for a checkup."

Apple Bloom stuck her right hoof out. "Make it quick, I got places to be."

"But Apple Bloom, you hate needles!" Scootaloo protested.

"I ain't got time ta be scared, my big sister could be sick right now and I'm not there to help her." Apple Bloom looked up at Dr. Hooves. "What you waiting for?"

The doctor giggled to himself. "That's what I like about you country folk, always straight to the point." The doctor elevated Apple Blooms leg and injected her just behind her hoof.

"Hey, this doesn't hurt at all." Apple Bloom said as she inspected the injection area. "There's not even any blood where ya stuck it in.

"Self sealing medical supplies. My own invention, now how about you, Scoots was it?" Dr. Hooves took another syringe from one of his assistants and moved toward the floating orange pegasus.

Scootaloo tried to break free from the iron grip of the magic holding her but found it a futile endeavor. "Fine, but if This hurts I'm kicking you in the face again." Scootaloo crossed her forelegs and closed her eyes. "Well what are you waiting for?"

"I'm already done." Dr. Hooves said. "I injected you behind your wings while you were busy pouting about it."

Scootaloo inspected the area behind her wings. "Yeah, whatever. Can we go now?"

Dr. Hooves nodded to his assistant and she slowly let Scootaloo down. "Now remember, off to the hospital with the both of you. There's no telling if the shot I gave you will work if both of you are past a certain stage." Dr. Hooves nodded and the group walked away, leaving Scootaloo and Apple Bloom in the alleyway.

"Apple Bloom, do you think your sister got sick?" Scootaloo asked.

"I dunno. I reckon we go to the hospital and find out." Apple Bloom replied. "I have bad feelin though..."

***

"This don't sit right with me Sweetie Belle, not one bit." Big Mac said in a worried voice as they passed by an abandoned cart full of carrots in the road. "Taint like Ms. Harvest to leave a full cart of produce out in the open; unattended like this."

"Wait...who?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"You young-ins might know her by her nickname, Carrot Top." Big Mac replied.

"Oh...her....nope, doesn't ring any bells." Sweetie Belle said.

"Really? Orange maned mare, works a farm behind our own?"

"So she has two names?" Sweetie Belle asked,

"What, no I...never mind. Let's just get to the farm."

The pair walked by the full cart of carrots and noticed what looked like vomit on the other side of it.

"Looks like someone's breakfast didn't agree with her." Sweetie Belle said as she stepped away from the disgusting pile.

"We we will check on her after we check up on our own." Big Mac said as he continued down the road, Sweetie Belle close behind him. It's didn't take them long after passing up the abandoned cart to reach the farm but what they say made both their jaws drop. The Apple's in the east field remained untouched, the chickens and pigs have yet to be fed, one of the gutters by the front of the barn was loose and only half the hay was bailed.

"This is bad Sweetie Belle, Apple Jack never leaves her chores unfinished." Big Mac said as he continued to count the unfinished chores around the barn.

"I know what you mean. It's like finding an unfinished dress in my sisters shop, completely out of the norm." Sweetie Belle replied.

The two walked around the farm each of them pointing out something that Apple Jack would never leave undone. None of the eggs for the chickens had been collected and the cows in the pasture seemed irritable. One of the cows, Delilah waved at Big Mac and called out to him.

"Big Mac dearest, what time does Apple Jack plan on milking us today? The girls are getting a bit agitated. They want to go inside and knit already."

Big Mac walked up to the fence Line and Delilah approached him. "Have you seen her today by chance? So many of the chores are left undone."

"Oh my! That doesn't sound like her at all. Apple Jack would rather eat her own hat then let a single days worth of chores go undone." Delilah replied, clearly in shock. "I saw her bailing hay earlier but when I looked again she was gone, That white coated unicorn with the fancy hair as well."

"You mean Rarity? Why was my sister here?" Sweetie Belle asked.

"Oh she was hosing down the pigs while Apple Jack tossed the hay into the barn."

"Wait, wait, wait. Are you sure it was my sister? I mean doing the dirty work doesn't seem like something she typically does." Sweetie Belle said while getting right up into Delilahs face about it.

Big Mac pulled Sweetie Belle back and apologized for the little fillies inquisitive nature. "Sorry but time is short, did any of you ladies see where she went off to?"

"Let me ask the others." Delilah walked over to the other cows and talked with them briefly. One of the cows with what looked like crossed eyes yelled up from the group.

"I saw her! The white unicorn pony was pulling her in a cart. Apple Jack looked something awful though."

Big Mac and Sweetie Belle looked at one another.

"My sister, oddly doing manual labor" Sweetie Belle said.

"Apple Jack letting chores go undone." Big Mac replied.

"Rarity, pulling a cart with the most stubborn pony in town in it." Sweetie Belle said.

"Apple Jack allowing herself to be pulled in said cart." Big Mac replied.

"This can only mean one thing..." They both said in unison.

"Aliens!" Sweetie Belle said triumphantly.

Big Mac started to mouth what he was going to say but stopped and stared at Sweetie Belle with a bored expression on his face. "Seriously Sweetie Belle? Aliens?" Big Mac put his hoof over his face and shook his head. "You fillies need to lay off the movies and viddya games for a while."

"Wait, it's not aliens?" Sweetie Belle asked in a disappointed tone.

"Nnnnope. It's far more likely Apple Jack was injured during her work or got sick. Besides I heard aliens like kidnapping cows, if what you said were true then no cows would be left to tell us what happened." Big Mac pointed to the large packs of cows in the fields.

"I see...it must be xenopony-morphs then!" Sweetie Belle said excitedly. "Wait, that's worse. I don't want to be face hugged!" Sweetie Belle ran behind Big Macs legs.

"Calm down little filly, there taint no aliens around here but there is a pony that probably went to the hospital that we need to check on. Right after we feed the pigs and chickens though, I don't want a riot on my hooves cause they are hungry."

"Okay then but if I see a single xenopony-morph I'm throwing chicken feed in its face and running." Sweetie Belle said confidently.

Big Mac giggled. "That's fine by me, Sweetie Belle."

The two agreed to split up and get the chickens and the pigs fed quickly, although Big Mac had to remind Sweetie Belle not to call the chickens "Scootaloo" as they may get offended. Soon they found themselves on the road to the hospital, passing by the same abandoned cart full of carrots.

"Someone should really take these carrots back, they will rot if they sit out in the sun too long." Sweetie Belle said as they walked by the cart.

"Maybe, they don't seem to be shocked yet. I bet Carrot top was heading into town to shock them before sellin them on market." Big Mac said as he examined the carrots. "They don't seem wet."

"Shocked?" Sweetie Belles eyebrow raised on one side. "I was always told you should never put anything in an electrical socket."

Big Mac sighed and nodded his head forward to keep Sweetie Belle moving. "Shocking works in many ways. If you want to prepare the food and eat it later you half cook it in hot water then dunk it in ice water to keep the flavor and texture. If you just want to store it then you can dunk it in ice water and then put it in a cold cellar for later. Doing that slows down decay and makes vegetables keep longer. Works for fruits too, though the Apples we farm sell too fast to even bother with it."

"And ...the vegetables don't get a cold?" Sweetie Belle asked.

Big Mac groaned. And I thought Pinkie Pie was a little dense sometimes...this is gonna be a long walk. Big mac thought to himself.

***

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom stood in the grassy field in front of the Ponyville hospital, both staring in awe.

"Jeeze, is everypony sick or something? I though he was over exaggerating." Scootaloo said.

"I dunno, almost every pony in Ponyville is here, there's even a few from other smaller towns too. The pony in the middle of the line is the sheriff of Appleoosa" Apple Bloom said.

"I'm glad those ponies aren't radioactive mutants. So many of those weird suits around." Scootaloo watched as the ponies in the hazmat suits passed out medicine and refreshments to the ponies in line, apologizing profusely for the holdup. A few of the nurses however seemed to forgo using the suits and just wore protective masks over their faces, one such pony noticed them out of line and quickly approached them. A strange steampunk-like contraption strapped to her back.

"Are you fillies here with your parents or guardians? Or just visiting?" Nurse Red Heart stopped briefly and looked over Scootaloo and Apple Bloom. "Oh, I know you two. Sorry I didn't recognize you at first, it's been a long time since I seen you two last."

"I saw you like, three or so years ago for a shot of some kind but I was really little then." Apple Bloom said.

"Yeah I remember you visiting to give out flue shots at... my home a couple years back." Scootaloo added nervously.

"So I guess you are here to see your sister Apple Bloom?" Nurse Red Heart asked politely.

"Is she here? I don't see her in line anywhere." Apple Bloom scanned the line to see if she somehow missed her.

"She was admitted with stage three flu sometime ago. I can escort you to meet her but only after administering shots and testing you for the flu itself." Nurse Red Heart motion to one of the other nurses to help her when Apple Bloom interrupted her.

"We already got injections from that Dr. Hooves guy. He said we need to head here to get checked up." Apple Bloom said, noticing the large needle in the other nurses mouth.

"Nurse Dandy, we won't be needing that. They already got a shot from Dr. Hooves." Nurse Red Heart said.

The other nurse looked crestfallen and set the needle back in her saddle bags. "Do you need assistance testing them Red?"

"What about everypony else? there's got to be hundreds ahead of us." Scootaloo pointed at the long line. "It doesn't seem fair to them."

Nurse Red Heart smiled and shook her head. "Silly filly. Elderly, disabled, mares heavy with foals, the immune deficient and fillies and colts have priority when it comes to treatment. Now, I'll need a blood sample from both of you."

"Belay that order. I shall scan them myself for any signs of sickness and then take them to their kin, post haste." Said a deep and commanding voice.

Scootaloo and Apple Bloom knew that voice anywhere and apparently so did the nurses. Each of them and many of the ponies in line bowed respectfully.

"Princess Luna!" Scootaloo yelled excitedly.

"Hello Princess, how ya doing?" Apple Bloom asked.

"I am doing fine but others not so much. You two will follow me up to the intensive care room where thine sister is being treated." Luna said in a prompt and serious manner.

"E-excuse my insolence, your majesty." Nurse Red Heart said meekly. "I-it's common practice to test ponies before they enter the hospital during pandemics. Hospital code four-four- seven-"

"I know what the hospital codes are nurse, I helped write some of them centuries ago. The contraption on your back is slow and cumbersome and they need to be at their kins side immediately. I will not take any more complaints from you, do I make myself clear?" Luna said, barely holding back a yell as her eyes glowed hot bright white.

"C-crystal clear, your majesty." Nurse Red Heart bowed deeply, shaking in fright.

Scootaloo shot Luna a glare and the princess nodded in return.

"I am sorry nurse, my mood has been as ill as the ponies in this line this morning. My apologies for scaring you." Luna bowed her head respectfully and nodded for Apple Bloom and Scootaloo to come to her side. The two fillies walked up to either side of Luna and looked up at her. "I hope you remember what teleporting feels like and manage to not stumble."

Magic began to build up around Luna's horn and with a bright flash of night blue light they were in a hospital room. Scootaloo dizzy from the spell, fell over on her face the second her hooves found solid ground.

"You know, the hospital was right there. We could have just walked." Scootaloo said as she pulled herself off the floor.

Scootaloo managed to pull herself up and looked around the room. It was a small room with all kinds of whizzing contraptions and medical monitoring equipment. Some of which she had only seen in the movies. There were other ponies in the room as well. Between two beds ,Celestia was sitting, her horn glowing bright yellow. In either bed beside her were Rarity and Apple Jack, both of them appeared to be on ventilators and life support machines.

"Sis!" Apple Bloom rushed to the side of Apple Jacks bed, her eyes quickly filling with tears." Big Sis, what's wrong?"

Apple Jack didn't reply. Her eyes remained shut and her body unmoving.

Scootaloo walked up to Apple Bloom and put her foreleg around her. "She will be okay....right princess?" Scootaloo stared at Luna and Luna adverted her gaze, as if she didn't have the heart to tell her.

Soon, other ponies began funneling into the room. First Big Mac then Sweetie Belle, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Twilight Sparkle, Spike, Pinkie Pie, Sweetie Belle and Rarity's parents and lastly Babs Seed and granny Smith.

"Sis!" Sweetie Belle ran to Rarity's bedside and looked over her sister, crying, her parents close behind her. "Sis, ya gotta wake up." Sweetie Belle tried to shake Rarity but was quickly pulled back by her mother and father.

Celestia, whom had been silent with her eyes closed finally spoke up. "They will be fine, but they will be in a coma for at least a month and bedridden till nearly winter by my estimates."

"What happened to them?" Apple Bloom cried.

"Did somepony hurt my big sis? I swear I will bite their ears off!" Sweetie Belle said angrily.

"Twilight, you felt it too didn't you. You all did?" Celestia said.

Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie all nodded together.

"Luna and I felt it as well. A sudden drain on all of our strength and the sinking feeling that someone connected to the elements of harmony was in peril." Celestia said softly.

"Verily, that is why I set out to notify the others post haste but I could not find them as most of them seemed to know where to go already." Luna said. "Twilight was very fast to beat me to the punch as to say."

Twilight smiled weakly. "Well, I guess I'm just perceptive like that."

"Sort of, Luna's connection with the elements is much fainter, having been victim to their powers before when she was nightmare moon." Celestia looked at Luna but she turned away her head in shame. "Be that as it may the only reason these two ponies are still alive is becuase of their attachment to the elements of harmony and our quick intervention."

"What exactly happened Princess? I heard from the nurse that they tried the typical cure for stage three unicorn flu. Did it not work?" Twilight asked.

Celestia shook her head. "This is no ordinary variant of the unicorn flu. It was magically modified and intentionally spread using fungal spores. The moment they tried to stop the flu from going to stage four by the normal means of a unicorn sacrificing her health and magic to save another, it immediately went to stage four for both of them."

"But I heard others having no problems with stage three being treated." Fluttershy said.

"That my little ponies is the terrifying part. Whomsoever spread this disease intended for it to kill a couple elements of harmony, their magical connection was the trigger itself."

There was a collective silent gasp around the room from nearly every pony present.

"The only reason the other elements avoided infection is becuase the winds kept much of the spores away from the current vehicle testing grounds. I take it most of you spent the night to get a head start on testing the next day?" Celestia asked.

Twilight, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie all nodded.

"I figured as much, our team of medical specialists noticed that the spare spores not deflected by the wind were destroyed by used magic coming from within the engine of the tanks. A lucky coincidence I must say." Celestia raised her head and the glow from her horn dissipated.

"I have done all I can for now. I must rest before I can continue. Could you kindly take my place Luna?"

Luna nodded and switched spot with Celestia, her horn glowing a powerful hue of night blue as she sat down and focused her power.

"Celestia, do you have any leads who could have done this?" Twilight asked.

Celestia nodded. "Not much happens within my kingdom without me having some information-"

"Wh-who was it?" Apple Bloom lifted her head from the bed, tears rolling down her cheeks.

"Be calm little one, you cut me off. I don't have any clues to work with right now but whomever is responsible...

"is a threat to the safety of everypony in Equestria."