• Published 29th Jun 2012
  • 3,153 Views, 375 Comments

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 2: Caravan under a Cloudy Sky

---CHAPTER 2: Caravan under a Cloudy Sky---
"You have my word."

Morning. Even with the everpresent clouds, dawn brought enough light to make me groan and cover my eyes with one leg. We'd been travelling through the night and I'd spent most of it tossing and turning, nightmares lurking behind every dream. Quiet snoring drew my attention to where Rose lay, in the exact same position she'd fallen asleep. With a yawn I crawled over to lay beside her, careful not to wake her up.

"Everything okay back there, girls?" My mother whispered from up front. "We're nearly in town, not long now." I nodded and pointed at Rose. "No, let her sleep. Poor dear needs as much rest as she can get." Just then the wagon hit a bump and Rose whimpered, curling up against me and opening her eyes.

"Lily?" I wrapped my forelegs around her.

"Shh, it's okay. I'm here, Rose. Go back to sleep." With a small sigh, she buried her face against my chest and drifted off into a deep sleep. I didn't know if I should envy her for being able to sleep peacefully after everything that she'd been through, or pity her for having her world torn apart so brutally that nightmares didn't hold any terror at all. In the end, I settled for holding her while she slept and stroking her head.

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The town was just coming into view when Rose woke up with a start, her whole body shaking. "Rose, what's wrong?" I asked her in a panic, my tone drawing my parents attention.

"So many ponies...' She curled up into a little white and red ball, mumbling, and I realized what was happening.

"Dad, stop!" I yelled to my father and he reigned in the brahmin as my mother leapt to our side.

"Lily, what is it? What's wrong with Rose?" She nuzzled the quivering ball as I explained.

"Rose can feel emotions, remember? And she's never been in a town!"


The wagon turned and we hurried back down the trail, only stopping when Rose started to recover. "Rose, honey, can you hear me?" My mother spoke softly, cradling Rose in her hooves. The little white head gave a tiny nod. "I want you to focus, okay? Focus on us, baby. On auntie and uncle and big sister Lily, alright?" Another nod, and her body had almost stopped trembling. "Is that better, honey?"

Rose's voice was weak when she replied, "Yeah. It was just scary, that's all."

My mum set her down next to me, and I put one hoof around her shoulders protectively, comforting her. "Rose, honey, do you think you could keep focusing on us? Maybe ignore all the other ponies?" Rose shook her head at the suggestion and hugged me tightly.

"Maybe."

My parents looked at each other in concern, and my father spoke up. "Rose, we need to go into town, but if it's too much, I can go by myself. Is that okay?" Those grey eyes watched us from under her crimson mane, and she nodded again.

"I'll be okay if Lily is with me." With that, we made our way back to town, slowly letting her get used to being near so many ponies.

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"See something you like, young lady?" The buck behind the counter smiled at Rose, who was staring at a small stack of more or less intact books. She nodded and pointed at a Daring Do novel without speaking. "A Daring Do fan, huh? Good choice." He smiled at her again, but her face was blank as she just stared back. "Tell you what, cute filly like you, it's yours for 5 caps." Rose turned to look in her saddlebags, but I stopped her and payed for it myself.

The buck leaned over the counter and whispered to me; "Is she okay?" He waved a hoof at where Rose was sitting, carefully putting her new book away.

I sighed and whispered back, "She's just really shy, that's all."

His smile faltered for a moment before he replied, "Oh. Well, was there anything else you wanted?"


Several minutes later we left the store, stepping out onto the fairly empty street with our bags full of supplies. Our hooves kicked up little clouds of dust as we walked, Rose staying so close that we'd brush up against each other every few steps.

It was clear the filly wasn't very comfortable, since she hadn't spoken for hours or even opened her mouth except to sip at a sparkle cola. A cool breeze blew across us, disturbing the hot mid-day air, messing up our manes and making Rose shiver. "It's alright, Rose." I whispered as we reached the store my parents were in. "As soon as mum and dad come out, we'll be on our way." She stared at me silently, so I poked her side and grinned. "Cheer up. Why don't you read your new book while we wait?" For a second I thought she was going to smile, but she just pulled out her book and settled down next to me.

Watching her, my eyes started to wander, coming to rest on her cutie mark, like a black stain on her white coat. The more I looked at it, the more disturbing it became. You know how when you draw a loveheart, it's closed? Her cutie mark wasn't. It was all broken and twisted, covered in thorns. This was the best look I'd had at it so far, since she'd left her father's old duster and his gun in the wagon. That had taken some convincing, and it wasn't until I'd pointed out that she could bring her mother's saddlebags that Rose had agreed. Sensing my unease, Rose looked up at me curiously. "Sorry, just looking at your cutie mark." She twisted her head to look at it, then cocked her head and stared at me. "It looks... Nice." I forced a smile, but she just shrugged and went back to reading. Eventually, my parents came out of the store and we all got to work loading new supplies and deliveries onto the wagon.

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My heart soared. The sun was high, a calm wind was blowing, and the road seemed to stretch into eternity. My parents were laughing at some joke dad had made, and Rose was clearly happy to be moving again, watching straggly trees and rocks roll past us with a peaceful look in her eyes. Only a couple of hours out of town, with a wagon full of goods and two days till the next stop on our route. I was in heaven.

"Feel better now, Rose?" Brushing my emerald mane back (I love the feel of wind in my face, but it always messes up my hair), I levitated over two sparkle colas, giving my friend one as she nodded.

"I don't like towns much." She bit the cap off her drink, took a sip and watched the landscape go by. "Lily, how big is the world?"

Opening my own drink (with my magic, of course. Rose really seemed like an Earth Pony sometimes.), I took a long drink, enjoying the carroty flavour before answering. "So big, that you could walk forever and not see it all. Why?"

She tapped one hoof on the side of the wagon. "I... I wanna see it all, Lily. I want to stay with you, and auntie and uncle, and go everywhere that caravan ponies like you do. Even if I have to go into towns or talk to other ponies, it doesn't matter, because travelling makes you happy, and that makes me happy." I laughed and hugged her as tight as I could, my parents watching us with huge smiles on their faces.

"Of course you can travel with us, Rose." My father called back to us. "You're family, after all." Rose just looked at the three of us, then went back to watching the world, her face passive, but peaceful looking.

"Family..."

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The old brown coat was pretty comfortable to lay on. Not as good as my bedroll, but after we made camp Rose had refused to sleep on anything but her dad's duster, and I'd ended up laying on it with her so she wouldn't be lonely.

My parents and I took turns telling ghost stories, and even Rose had told one. I'd recognised it from one of the books I'd given her ages ago, but hearing it told in that cold, emotionless voice scared the living crap out of me. Now, I don't believe in ghosts, but by the time she was finished talking, my mane was standing on end, and I swear that I could see things walking around, just outside the circle of light cast by our campfire. It didn't help that Rose kept looking out into the night, either, like she was watching something.


When we were all done scaring each other (or trying to. Rose seemed to take it better than I did), our dinner was cooked to perfection. Some withered vegetables from town, and fresh bacon. "I can't believe you took down that radhog with one shot." I mumbled past my mouthful of food, earning a scolding from my mother.

Rose shrugged and swallowed. "Hard to miss. It ran straight at us."

My father gestured at the old hunting rifle that had belonged to Rose's dad and said, with a strip of bacon hanging from his mouth, "You're one hell of a shot, Rose. Few years, I'll have to start paying you as a guard." My mother glared at him as he chewed and swallowed.

"Well, I can see where Lily gets her manners."

As I licked my plate clean, I felt offended; There was nothing wrong with my manners!

Dinner over, we cleaned up and got ready to sleep, my father keeping his shotgun by his side. The area was pretty safe, and there hadn't been any raiders sighted around there lately, but better safe than sorry. There was still the wildlife, after all. Laying next to Rose, I pulled a blanket over us and cuddled against her. "G'night, Rose."

"Good night, Lily." As I drifted off, she was still staring into the darkness...

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Brr... Cold... I rolled over, reaching for the soft, warm filly and missing. Groping around sleepily, I realized she wasn't next to me at all, and sat up to look around. The fire had died down, just softly glowing embers that gave off little light, but it was enough to tell she wasn't there.

"Rose?" I called out softly, getting up and walking to the wagon, the brahmin sleeping beside it. Nopony in the wagon, and I checked behind it in case she'd needed to, uh, 'take care of business', but she wasn't there. After waiting a little while, in case she showed up, I woke my parents. "Rose is missing."

That one sentence was enough to get them up and moving, my father floating his shotgun along as we started searching around the camp, calling. "Rose!" We didn't get far, only a few steps from the fire, before Rose materialized from the darkness, like a bloody maned ghost, a duffel bag on her back and a bloody knife in her mouth. She spat out the knife and looked at us.

"What's wrong?"

We stared back in shock, and my father managed to stutter out a question: "Where were you? Where did you get that knife? And..."

"Your face!" As Rose walked closer, my mother shrieked and ran to her, checking the big, bloody bruise on her little face. Floating some medical supplies out, mum started to clean it, making Rose wince as she answered.

"Some bad ponies were going to hurt us, so I found them and asked them to leave. One hit me, and, well..." She waved a hoof at the bloody knife. "They're gone now."

Dad yelled at her. "Rose, that was dangerous! You should have told me there were bad ponies nearby!" Those grey eyes looked at him, as dead and lifeless as her voice.

"If I told you, then there would have been fighting, like when I told papa. I don't want my family to go away again..." A pause, then she continued, her voice sad now. "Was I a bad pony? I only wanted to keep everypony safe... Please don't make me leave..."

Mum stopped cleaning the bruise, hugging the filly tight. "No, honey, you don't have to go anywhere."

I hugged her too, and dad came over, keeping his voice calm. "Rose, I'm not angry, you just scared us. From now on, if there are bad ponies around, I want you to tell us, okay? Don't do things like this. Can you promise?" He smiled at her, and she bobbed her head in agreement.

"I promise. Good ponies don't break promises, and I want to be a good pony."


Slipping out of our arms, Rose grabbed the bag and dragged it over. "I took all their stuff, too. We can sell it in town, right?" We all sorted the bag out together, after I made Rose promise never to leave my side again. All up, there were several badly damaged guns with ammo, an assortment of knives and shivs, a couple of healing potions and a bunch of random junk. When she said 'all their stuff', she meant it.

Eventually we got everything squared away, Rose had her cheek bandaged up and, after a very stern lecture and some more promises, she curled up next to me. This time, I made sure she was sound asleep before resting my head on her neck and going to sleep myself.


Morning found us moving again, and Rose refused to talk to us about her fight with the raiders. Years later, I'd get to see her fighting skills firsthoof, but for now I was more or less unaware just what she was capable of. Nonetheless, my father always made sure to check with Rose before we made camp, and she never took off on her own again, staying near me just like she'd promised.

FOOTNOTE: LEVEL UP
Companion Perk: Honest Heart -- Whiskey Rose gains +10% to all skills when you are nearby. Promises are meant to be kept.

Author's Note:

Massive thanks to KKat for creating such an awesome world to play in! You rock! Woohoo!
Big thanks to everyone who's been reading so far. ^_^