• Published 29th Jun 2012
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Fallout: Equestria - Wasteland Bouquet - Cascadejackal

There's a lot of stories in the Equestrian Wasteland, and they all need to be told.

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Chapter 12.5: Crossroad Blues

---CHAPTER 12.5: Crossroad Blues---


Out in the Equestrian Wasteland, far from anything of note, there is a town. Not a town of great importance or worth, scarcely recognised as more than a place to stop for the night by those who pass through.

It is in this town, this place known simply as Crossroads, that we find a young unicorn stallion, only slightly more interesting than the town itself. His brown coat and mane are average, unlikely to catch the eye or hold one's attention for long. The four-leaf clover upon his flank might draw your gaze for a moment, but only because such a vibrant green is an unusual sight in a world so barren.

No, it is not his appearance that is interesting, just as the town around him seems simple and plain to outsiders. Rather, it is what will happen this night, an unusual occurrence even by the standards of the wasteland, that gives pony and place any significance in the great tapestry of life.

For the ponies of this town will, in years to come, speak of this night in hushed tones and fearful whispers. This is the night the Devil came to Crossroads.

Now, this is not a tale of grand horror, of ghosts and fiends from beyond the grave or unholy bargains forged with the blood of infants. Nor does it begin with arcane chants and profane rituals.

This tale, like so many, begins in a mundane and everyday way: With a pony in a bar.


Lucky Break nursed his drink, a pleasant beverage which bore the label Golden Harp, yet he could not have cared less for the rich history of the drink or its fine flavour, with just a hint of candy-like sweetness. It was simply a way to dull the ache in his heart, to distract him from the longing and regret that had been his companion for almost a year.

You see, Lucky Break was not a bad pony. In fact, he prided himself on being as likeable and respectable as possible. He would smile and be polite, content to share the luck that was his namesake with those around him. Whilst he was a gambler, it was not the gambling itself that drew him, time and again, back to the table, but the company of his fellows. To win, to lose, to laugh and swap stories over cards and drinks. It was a good life, and one he had enjoyed for many years.

No, Lucky Break was not a bad pony at all. But, like all ponies, he made mistakes, and he regretted those mistakes, even as he cherished the brief happiness they had brought him.

Close to a year ago, he had met a lovely mare, one with emerald eyes and a coat of cream. Her name was that of a delicate flower and, as he took a sip of his beer, he sighed.


That was her name. Lily. The mare who had stolen his heart. He did not regret their meeting, or the time they had spent together. Such things were moments of joy in a world where such a thing was far too rare to let pain or sorrow taint them.

It was what their meeting and their eventual intimacy had caused, the heartbreak and pain that had ended their relationship, that he wished he could take back.

For Lily had a younger sister, one who had hated him at first sight. At the time, he had simply accepted it, as such things were surprisingly common in the twisted parody that dared to call itself the world. He did not know the reason behind her hatred of males, did not wish to pry or cause her pain by bringing up things better left buried.

Instead, he had tried to make friends with the younger mare, despite her refusal to even acknowledge his existence. It had stung, of course, that she wouldn't even give him a chance, but Lily, the mare he loved, had said it would be alright.

She was wrong.

Lucky Break finished his beer, setting the empty bottle on the table before him and making his way to the bar for another. Upon returning to his table and regaining his seat, he frowned at the amber liquid. Alcohol would only make him forget for a short time and all the pain, the regret, would return in full force far too quickly for his liking.

Still, he took a long, slow sip, drowning his sorrows gradually. The sun was only just beginning to set outside, a diffused glow behind those accursed clouds, slowly plunging the world into a darkness unbroken by moon or star, the miracles of the heavens long ago hidden from the eyes of those who would walk the warped and broken land. There was a long, lonely night ahead, and if he was to slip into a drunken stupor, then it was best to do it gradually.

After young Rose, her sister, had run off, Lily had tearfully explained the reason the younger mare hated males. The death of her family at the hooves of raiders, her empathy allowing her to experience not only that dreadful time, but the needs and desires of every pony she had met since...

Lucky Break sighed.

He could only imagine what it was like, to be forever drowning in a sea made of the emotions and lives of others, seeking anything to hold onto, some small thing to remind her of who she was. Perhaps Lily had been such a thing; an anchor, a part of young Rose's life that she had believed would never go away.

If only he'd known... He would have spoken to the younger mare more, tried harder to become her friend, let her know just how much her big sister meant to him. He was sure that, with enough time, they would have gotten along... Maybe, just maybe, if he'd done everything right, the younger mare would not have reacted so badly when he made love to his darling Lily...

He sighed again. There was no way to change the past, and now he was left with nothing but his memories.


The night wore on, ponies came and went, but still Lucky Break sat alone, listening more to the wind outside than the low conversations around him.

As was the way of so many small towns, strangers were treated with some measure of suspicion, and those who frequented the bar believed they knew better than to disturb a pony who drank alone. After all, they reasoned, why would he be alone if he wanted company?

So, when a strange unicorn mare sat across the table from Lucky Break, more than a few ponies turned, discreetly, to watch them.

She was tall and graceful, her neatly braided mane the rich, deep color of a fine wine. Her coat was the white of freshly fallen snow, as pure as the soul of a newborn foal and almost hidden behind a finely tooled leather duster of darkest umber. When she gazed upon the melancholic stallion across from her, it was with eyes of the deepest blue, fathomless orbs alight with some inner glow that tugged at the heart and soul, drawing the watchers in like the song of a siren, beautiful and terrible.

"Lucky. Break."

Her words were slow, precise, every syllable that left those softly smiling lips seeming to crawl across the flesh. It was not a question, but a statement. She knew the name of the stallion, the one she had come for, yet she said it all the same, in a voice which held the barest trait of an accent that, before the war, would have been called Fancee.

These nuances escaped our friend, for even drinking gradually may take its toll over time, and he had been doing little else for several hours now.

As it was, when he raised his head from the meaningless mental meanderings that had so thoroughly occupied him, his blurry vision revealed only a smiling mare that seemed vaguely familiar.

"Do I... know you?" A small frown crossed his muzzle as he tried to place the pale creature before him, inwardly wishing he hadn't drunk quite so much.

"Perhaps you do." Her smile grew a little. "And perhaps you don't. That's not important right now, though... Is it, my boy?"

"No... I guess not..." He agreed, then stared at her, puzzled, as his hazy mind tried to understand why he had so willingly accepted her judgement.

"Mmmm..." The mare rested her chin on her hooves, watching the confused stallion through hooded eyes. "You've had quite a lot to drink, haven't you..."

Lucky Break stared at his half-empty beer, frowning. What business of hers was it how much he had drunk? "Did you want something, miss...?"

His companion let out a small chuckle. "Oh, it isn't what I want that's important... It's what you want..."

"What... I want?" He was even more confused now, and didn't notice she hadn't introduced herself.

"Mm-hm." The strange mare nodded. "I can see you're having trouble taking all this in... If you don't mind, I'd rather do this while you're in your right mind... If such a thing exists for you ponies." There was no glimmer of magic from her horn, no sign she had done anything at all, yet he felt the fog lift from his mind. In moments, it was like he hadn't been drinking at all and, somehow, he knew this mare was responsible.

"What did you-"

"Uh-uh!" She waved a hoof at him, still smiling. "Who, why and how are not the questions you should be asking, oh no. The only question here is: What do you want? But I already know the answer..."

The brown stallion stared at her, trying to find something to say, but she carried on speaking, once more resting her chin on her hooves.

"You would like a chance to change things, wouldn't you? To undo all the pain you caused? I can see it in your eyes, my boy... To know happiness and have it stolen away... Such a sad fate... But I can change that."

Finally, he found his voice. "Who are you?"

Her smile turned into a smirk. "Let's just say... I'm someone who is willing to give you another chance, to let you try and change a certain moment in your life..."

"What's in it for you?" He narrowed his eyes, suspicious of this strange mare now that his mind was clear. Everything about her seemed... wrong somehow. From how impossibly clean she was, without a trace of dust, dirt or grime to mar her pristine coat, to the softly glowing pools of her eyes, as bottomless as the ocean, drawing him ever deeper and threatening to drown him in their gentle depths...

The world around him began to slip away as he gazed into her eyes, sinking into an abyss of contentment and emptiness, all desires and needs slowly leaving his body until nothing mattered anymore... He would have sat there for all eternity had the mare not blinked, breaking whatever hold she had over him and laughing softly as he gave his head a shake.

"What's in it for me? Why, nothing but a bit of fun, my boy. You see, I do so enjoy games, and I find they are even better with a prize... Don't you agree?" She batted her eyelashes at him, but he avoided eye contact, not wishing a repeat of... whatever had just happened.

"Oh, come now... You could at least look at me..." She gave him a sweet smile, and all those who could see her face, even in the dull light of the lanterns within the bar, felt an inexplicable sense of dread. Though her expression was one of innocence, they were reminded of a cat watching a mouse...

"What are you?" Lucky Break stared at her muzzle, trying to keep his voice level. Everything about this mare set him on edge and, though he had no way of knowing it, the other patrons of the bar felt the same way.

Still, the mare continued to smile. "As I said, I'm the one offering you your greatest desire, with no strings attached... All it takes is a simple game of cards. Should you win, you get another chance with your dear mare, Lily..."

He sat up straight at the mention of the name and, despite himself, looked straight into her eyes. This time, however, there was no sense of being drained of all he was. Only a deep discomfort at the amusement he saw within those eyes of indescribable blue. "How do you know about her?"

She giggled, the playful sound sending chills along the spines of all those present. "Oh, I know many things... Just like I know you'll accept... And do you know why you'll accept?" He shook his head. "Because this isn't the life you want... Because you would rather be with the one you love than wandering alone, seeking comfort at the bottom of a bottle."

He was silent, his thoughts a jumbled mess as he tried to prove her wrong. In the end, however, she was right, and there was only one question to be asked. "What if you win? If my prize is Lily, what's yours?"

Her smile became a grin. "I suppose the better question is, what would you put on the table? Your final bet, as it were. How much are you willing to risk for a better life, with the one you love?"

It was something he had wondered himself over the past months; the price he would pay to try again. Always, he came to the same conclusion. "Everything. I'll give everything I have, if your offer is for real."

"Oh, it's quite real, my boy... Now, be a dear and deal the cards, would you?"

"Not yet... How do I know you won't cheat?"

The mare laughed, genuinely amused by his question. "What fun is a game where you know the outcome? You alone shall handle the cards; place mine upon the table, if you believe I'm untrustworthy."

He nodded. "Very well." That was exactly what he would do and, as he used his magic to lift a well-worn pack of cards from his barding, he allowed a small, confident grin to show. His luck at cards was almost endless. Soon enough, he would be able to see his beloved Lily once more, and this time he wouldn't screw it up.


Lucky Break stared at the cards on the table, wondering how he could have lost. It was not a severe loss, or even an overwhelming one. The difference between them had been that of a single card, yet it had been enough to steal his victory.

For a moment, he tried to think, to come up with some way of getting out of the situation he had gotten himself in... Only to sigh and resign himself to his fate. He sat up straight and proud as he gave the ever-smiling mare a level gaze. "I lost, but I'm a pony of his word... Whatever you want, it's yours."

His opponent merely watched him passively through hooded eyes for a minute, as dread twisted and writhed inside him, every moment spent waiting for her decision driving him towards madness.

When she began to speak, he almost welcomed the strangely accented words. "You played well, my boy, but not well enough... Luck was not on your side this day, and there is only one thing I desire..." As her smile grew, his chest tightened, and it became hard to breath. "For your sins, for the pain you caused my little Rose, I'm going to take the only thing of worth that you have... Your life."

He tried to speak, but he couldn't find the air to form words. His heart ached, beating slower and slower with each passing second, and he found himself sinking once more into those abyssal eyes as the cold embrace of death wrapped itself around him.

As he slumped on the table, his eyes closed, never again to open, the spark of his life extinguished like a candle, long before its time.

The mare simply smiled, stepped away from the table, and was gone.

Long minutes passed before the the bartender mustered enough courage to check the brown stallion, some small part of him hoping he had simply passed out, drunk. A single touch, and he shook his head, confirming that the poor stallion was truly deceased. A haze of gloom and sorrow filled the bar, touching each of the remaining patrons, some of them saying small prayers for the departed. As he wondered what to do with the body, the bartender looked slowly around the bar and came to a chilling realisation about the pale mare...

He hadn't seen her enter, and he hadn't seen her leave.


To this day, the citizens of Crossroads will not gamble on cold and windy nights, or when whispers may be heard upon the breeze, for fear the Devil may come once more to join them at cards.

Those who laugh at the superstition are shown a grave belonging to an un-named stallion, the headstone bearing a crude engraving of a four-leaf clover, and told the story of that fateful night.

A daring few have actually played cards at the very table where the stallion is said to have lost his life, in hopes of meeting the mysterious mare and recieving what she had offered her first opponent: A better life.

What happened to those individuals, however, is another story, for another time.

A/N Well, here's a little side-chapter I wanted to get out before halloween. Hope it was creepy enough!
Thanks to KKat, for the awesomeness that is Fallout Equestria!
Winter Storm and Midnight Stalker rock, as usual!

Anyone who was planning to play cards this halloween, maybe you should rethink your plans... Just in case.