• Published 29th Jun 2012
  • 3,205 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.

  • ...

Chapter 23: High Noon

---CHAPTER 23: High Noon ---

""Is he friend, or is he foe?" the pony wonders. I can assure you... I am no friend."

I skidded to a halt in the saloon doorway, dropping my revolver in horror.

Ibis ran into my back. "HEY! What are..." He started to yell and tried to shove me out of the way, but then he saw what I was staring at and froze.

It was a monster.

A massive minotaur, bigger than anything I'd ever seen, stood in the dusty street. Its hooves were bigger than my head, and it could have picked me up in one hand and used me for a squeak toy!

It would have had to bend over double just to fit through the saloon door, and even then it would've hit the four, massive, sharpened horns sticking out from its head like a crown stolen from Tartarus.

The behemoth's blue pelt was stretched tight over grotesque, rippling muscles, like someone had taken it and stuffed it full of armor until it was near bursting, and thick scarring covered it from skull-crushing hoof to ceiling-destroying head. It didn't have any armor or weapons; it didn't need them.

The only thing that kept me from pissing myself in terror was that it wasn't looking at me. Nope. That murderous gaze, those beady red eyes, were locked firmly on the mare in the cowpony hat, standing in the middle of the road a short distance away like it was just another day, her duster flapping as the wind started to pick up.

Rose just stared right on back with her usual blank expression as the Tartarus-spawned minotaur threw a coin in the air.

There was silence as the little golden disk flipped and tumbled, shining in the noon light. As it fell, the minotaur slid one giant hoof backwards and half-crouched, Rose rearing up onto her hind legs in response.

The coin hit the sand.

Rose drew her rifle.

The minotaur tensed.

Rose fired.

The minotaur charged.

Before I could even blink, the minotaur had reached Rose, moving faster than anything that size had a right to, and back-handed her so hard she flew backwards, her rifle landing near the Serenity and her hat floating down where she'd been standing just a second before.

The minotaur straightened up and turned, holding its arms out to the sides and letting out a bellowing laugh. The only sign Rose had even got a shot off was a bloody furrow on its forehead, right between its eyes.

"Did... did that thing's head deflect a bullet?" I heard Ibis whisper behind me, his voice trembling. I just whimpered in response and looked at where Rose had landed. She wasn't moving.

"SEE THE LITTLE PONY SHERIFF!" Midvalley, the monster minotaur, roared to his cheering gang. "SEE HOW SHE FALLS BEFORE THE MIGHTY MIDVALLEY! LIKE ALL HER PUNY KIND!" He started flexing, his muscles bulging with every movement, and the gang got louder in response, yelling, cheering, mooing... and... bleating?

I tore my eyes away from Midvalley and Rose, and just stared. There was at least a couple dozen gang members in the street and on the roofs of nearby building, and not a pony in sight. Just a lot of goats and rams, covered in crude armor, rusty metal spikes sicking out of bits of leather, wearing battlesaddles and with cruel-looking bits of scrap metal and barbed wire wrapped around their horns. No, wait, there was a pony, just one, lurking in the shadows between buildings.

To my utter shock, there were even a few brahmin mixed in, carrying the bigger guns of the group.

And every single one of them was roaring their approval for Midvalley as he stopped flexing, turned and stomped over to where Rose had just start twitching. Every step the monster took sent tremors through the ground.

I could only watch in horror as he loomed over my sister, sneering. "THE LITTLE PONY STILL LIVES!" He stooped over and grabbed one of Rose's front legs in his giant hand, before straightening up and dangling her for his gang to see with a cruel sneer. She just hung there, limp. "BUT NOT FOR LONG!" He grabbed Rose's other foreleg with his other hand, the gang going wild. I just watched, feeling helpless. Behind me, Ibis hadn't moved either.

"ANY LAST WORDS, LITTLE PONY?" Midvalley tightened his grip and started to pull her front legs in opposite directions, Rose's eyes snapping open from the pain. She started thrashing, swinging her hind legs in a futile attempt to try and kick the minotaur, and it looked like she was trying to say something.

Midvalley stopped pulling, Rose going limp in his grasp again, one leg twitching reflexively. "WHAT WAS THAT, LITTLE PONY?" He bellowed. My ears were flat from the force of his voice; I couldn't imagine how loud it was to Rose. "YOU NEED TO SPEAK UP!" This set the entire gang laughing again, and it was obvious Midvalley was enjoying himself, a sick smirk on his ugly mug.

Rose looked up shakily, having trouble keeping her head up, and frowned at the minotaur. I barely heard her voice as she gasped out her words. "You... are under... arrest..."

For several seconds, all sound ceased, everyone staring at Rose, stupified.

She'd said that. She'd really said that.

Then it was broken by Midvalley's bellowing laugh. "YOU ARE PERSISTENT, LITTLE PONY!" He started pulling again, Rose letting out a cry of pain as he brought her face close to his and snorted, blowing her mane back from the force of it. "THE GREAT MIDVALLEY RESPECTS THAT, AND WILL MAKE YOUR END QUICK!" He laughed again. "SAY 'THANK YOU', LITTLE PONY! THANK THE GREAT MIDVALLEY FOR HIS MERCY!" He pulled harder and Rose cried out, the gang picking up their cheering and laughing again.

Suddenly, there was a loud pop from Rose's leg and her eyes went wide, her pupils pinpricks. She let out a wordless scream and smashed her face into Midvalley's.

Surprised by the sudden headbutt, Midvalley roared in pain, one hand releasing Rose and going to his face, the other whipping Rose back and then throwing her at the saloon. She smashed into the wall back-first, splintering the wood, and dropped to the decking with a thud.

Roaring, Midvalley turned to us, blood dripping from the hand clutched over his eye. Rose's horn must've gouged it when she headbutted him. "LITTLE PONY!" He bellowed, his remaining eye filled with hate, "THE GREAT MIDVALLEY WILL MAKE YOU PAY FOR THAT!"

He half-crouched, lowering his head and aiming all four horns at us, getting ready to charge and smash us into paste.

I realised we were all about to die. We were going to die, and it was all Rose's fault. It was her fault, and I was going to let her know. I was going to tell her off all the way to the Elysium Fields, and when we got there I was going to tell her parents that it was her fault.

I couldn't run. I couldn't even move. I could barely twitch my ears. My entire body was locked up with fear. Even Ibis shoving at my back, trying to get me out of the way, couldn't budge me.

Taking a deep breath, I shut my eyes and braced myself to go splat. Luna, Celestia, please let it be quick.

I heard Midvalley snorting. I heard Ibis yelling something at me. I heard a thunderous hoof-fall... then gunshots and a roar of irritation. What I didn't hear was myself going splat.

"Hey!" A voice rang out, familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. "Looking for me?" The speaker laughed mockingly. "Well here I am, you ugly fucker!"

Nervously, I cracked one eye open, wondering why I was still alive. I saw that Midvalley had turned again, bloody marks on his back from where he'd been shot, and he was glaring past his gang... at the sole pony I'd seen, lurking in the shadows.

They stepped into the light, sneering, their rifle hovering above them in a blue aura. I couldn't believe it.

It was Bourbon Rose.

"YOU!" Midvalley bellowed and charged straight through his gang, crushing those not quick enough to get out of his way. Bourbon ducked back into her alley, firing the whole time. "THE GREAT MIDVALLEY WILL CRUSH YOU!" I thought the minotaur would get stuck, the gap between the houses way too small for him to fit, but he just plowed through the side in pursuit of Bourbon, forgetting all about us.

"DAMN IT, LILY! MOVE!" Ibis yelled in my ear, digging his claws into my withers. I screamed and leapt away from him.

"What the fuck?!" I yelled back as he shoved past me, then I realised what his problem was: Rose wasn't moving. "Fuck! Fuckfuckfuck! Ibis! What do we do?!"

"Get her inside! Now!" He ordered. I reached out with my magic and grabbed Rose. "Keep her still. Don't let her move!" In the background, I could hear Midvalley charging through the town, his bellowing and the sounds of things breaking making it easy to tell where he was, Bourbon's taunts and gunshots ringing out almost constantly.

"R-right!" I did what Ibis said, keeping Rose as still as I could, holding her up while Ibis guided her back into the saloon. As I followed him I risked a glance back at the gang; they were milling around, looking confused, aimless. I lost sight of them when the door swung shut behind me.

"Clear a table!" Ibis shouted, guiding Rose through the air and onto a quickly cleared table. I set her down gently, my aura fading as I moved up beside Ibis, the griffin checking Rose out and trying to get her holster and duster off. Around us, all the townsponies looked on, concerned. I ignored them, worried about my sister.

Rose's eyes had rolled back in her head and she was wheezing with every breath, but other than the rise and fall of her chest, she wasn't moving. There was blood on the tip of her horn, from where she'd headbutted Midvalley. One front leg stuck out awkwardly, bending at the shoulder in a way it shouldn't have been.

"Alright." Having stripped Rose of everything but her barrel armor, Ibis took a deep breath. "It looks like she's okay."

"Okay?!" I shrieked, "She just got thrown into a fucking building! And look at her leg! You call that okay?!"

Ibis rolled Rose over slightly, getting a pained gasp as he loosed her armor enough to fit his claws under it then, after a few seconds, nodded. "She's not half dead. For Rose? Yeah, I call that okay. Help me get this off her." I wanted to yell at him more, but making sure Rose was okay was more important. The two of us undid Rose's armor, getting it off her as painlessly as we could, even though she groaned with every movement.

"How... how is she?" When we were done, I stared at my sister. She looked like a pinto, massive dark bruises forming from where she'd been hit.

Ibis ran his claws over her, pressing here and there with a frown. "Okay... okay... the armor did its job. Mostly bruising, a few cracked ribs..."

"What about her leg?!" I poked the limp limb; it didn't have any strength at all, and the bulge at her shoulder was making me feel sick. Ibis examined that next, and grimaced.

"Dislocated. That monster pulled it right out of the socket." He took a deep breath, preparing himself. "Lily, I need you to hold her down. This is going to hurt."

"Just... just hold her down... right. Got it." I took a breath of my own and focused, pinning Rose to the table with my aura.

"Three... two... one!" Ibis reached the end of his countdown and wrenched Rose's leg back into place with a stomach-churning noise. She arched her back and let out a noise that was part gurgle, part scream. I was straining to hold her down, then she just dropped, unconcious.

"That... was horrible." I let her go, feeling woozy myself.

Ibis nodded and gave Rose one last check. "That's the worst of it." He turned to me, a resigned look in his eyes. "Now we just need to get out of here while Bourbon's getting herself killed."

I shook my head. "No way! Did you see how big that gang is?! They'll tear us to shreds!"

"Not likely." Me and Ibis turned to see the mayor looking at us, a bottle of beer in her hoof. "Without their boss to tell them what to do, they ain't doin' nothin' much. Buncha braindead brahmin-bothering goats." She took a swig of her beer. "Won't kill you, but probably won't let you leave. Not while Midvalley's alive. Your mare alright?"

"She's fine." Ibis waved his claw dismissively, making the mayor snort and turn her attention back to her drink. The big griffin looked thoughtful for a minute, then fluffed himself up and turned to me. "I've got a plan, but we need Rose ready to run. How much do you think it'll take to get her up and moving?"

I stared at him for a second, then I realised what he was talking about. Whiskey. "Um, a couple of bottles, at least." I looked at Rose, passed out from pain. "You think she should be walking around like that?"

Ibis frowned, but nodded. "Our only choice. I'll distract Midvalley, draw the gang off, you and Rose get out of town. I'll meet you at that old barn, we can hide there."

"Wait," I protested, "what about the Serenity?! I'm not leaving her here!"

He waved his claw at me. "We'll get Rose comfortable then come back when it's clear."

I bristled at the thought of abandoning my poor wagon, even for a little while, but slumped. "Fine. What're you gonna do?"

Giving me a smirk, Ibis half-spread his wings and rested one claw on Rose's barrel. "Rose has grenades in her bag. I'm going to drop them all on Midvalley's head."

I stared at him for a second. "You're nuts." He just looked pleased with himself. I shook my head and sighed. "But it's not like we've got much choice... ugh, fine." I looked around for Rose's saddlebag; I needed to get at her whiskey stash anyway. "Um... where's Rose's bags? I could swear she had it... when she... when she locked up Early... at the jail." Ibis and I looked at each other and facehooved. Well, he didn't; he faceclawed.

"It's still there, isn't it?" Ibis asked. I just groaned, so he turned to the nearest pony. "There a back entrance to this place?" When they pointed, he nodded. "Thanks. Lily, do what you can." He eyed the bar. "Whatever they've got, make Rose drink it. Pour it down her throat if you have to." With that, he was gone, slipping through the murmuring crowd and out the back way.

I sighed and walked over to the nervous-looking stallion behind the bar. "I need booze." I lit my horn and pulled a bag of caps out, dropping it on the bar with the clink of a small fortune about to go down the drain. "All of it." I paused and looked back at Rose, still sprawled out on the table, totally out cold. A frown made its home on my face. "And a funnel. A big one."

The next ten minutes or so was spent pouring assorted spirits, liquors and moonshines into the bottomless pit that was Rose. I was starting to think she was part camel, or that she had an extra stomach just for booze, or something!

Bottles were starting to pile up, the crowd watching in awe as I upended beer after whiskey after rotgut into the funnel I'd shoved into Rose's mouth. I just cried silently, mourning the caps I'd lost and vowing to make Rose pay me back.

The whole time, I could hear Midvalley's rampage through the town outside, Bourbon somehow staying alive and firing constantly.

As for the gang? One of the goats poked its head through the door, but beat a hasty retreat when the mayor threw an empty beer bottle it. Other than that, the only sign they were even still out there was the occasional baa.

The mayor had been right. Without Midvalley to boss them around, they were just like most other goats: Practically mindless. No initiative at all.

It gave me high hopes we'd be able to get out, assuming Ibis' plan worked.

Suddenly Rose sat up, her eyes snapping open as she gasped for air and almost swallowed the funnel. I managed to grab it just in time and yanked it free with my magic. Rose stared at me, her eyes unfocused.

"Um..." I waved my hoof in front of her cautiously. "You okay, Rose?"

She slowly blinked one eye, then the other. "Ow." She wheezed, squinting at me. "Lily... why are there lots of you?"

"Uh... it's... it's just me, Rose. Just one of me... like always." She blinked again, wobbling slightly. At least she was moving, even if I couldn't tell if she was drunk or had a concussion. "Ibis'll be back soon, so... drink this, I guess." I floated up a bottle of hard cider; she tried to focus on it,then reached her hooves out to grab it... and fell off the table with a clatter, sending bottles rolling everywhere.


I just rolled my eyes and jammed the bottle in her mouth, leaving her suckling at it like a foal.

While she was busy with that, I poked my head out of the saloon nervously, checking how clear the coast was and seeing if Ibis was nearby. He wasn't, but the Hornfreaks were wandering around aimlessly. One of the goats was chewing Rose's hat.

That's when I realised Midvalley's bellowing was getting closer. I pulled back, leaving the door open a crack as the minotaur ripped throught the front of a house, panting and braying. "BOURBON ROSE! THE GREAT MIDVALLEY IS TIRED OF YOUR GAMES!" He stomped over to stand in front of the saloon, turning to try and spot Bourbon. "COME OUT, AND DIE LIKE THE PUNY LITTLE PONY YOU ARE!"

As he turned, booming out his challenge, I saw just how much damage Bourbon had done. The giant minotaur was covered with blood from dozens of wounds, his face crusted with dried blood from where Rose had taken his eye.

It hadn't slowed him at all, though, as he started stomping up and down the street, his gang scrambling to get out of his way. In his rage, he didn't notice the shadow passing overhead, but I did, and I took the risk of sticking my head out enough to look up.

It was either Ibis, waiting for the minotaur to stop moving long enough to drop his grenades, or the biggest fucking turkey vulture in the wastes. I really hoped it was Ibis.

"OOF!" I grunted as someone shoved past me. "Hey, watch... out... ROSE! You get back here right now!" As Rose pushed me out of the way, staggering into the street, I grabbed at her with my magic. She struggled for a second, but braced her hooves and kept trying. Brute force beat telekinesis, and when my aura failed I fell back with a yelp, rubbing my horn. Magical feedback was a bitch, a throbbing headache already making itself known.

Rose, now free, staggered and limped into the street, weaving side-to-side drunkenly. "You," I barely heard her say, her words slurred, "are under... arrest..." She made it right up behind Midvalley and stared at his broad back, wobbling. "Give up... or... I'll hit you..."

Midvalley was too busy roaring and looking for Bourbon to notice the drunken mare playing at sheriff behind him. Offended, Rose spun around, almost tipping at the last second, and apple-bucked him right in the back of the leg.

With a wet crunch that left me cringing, Midvalley hit the ground, bellowing in pain, his leg broken from the force of Rose's earth-pony-like buck.

Rose faceplanted, the force of her own kick too much for her drunken, bruised, concussed sense of balance, sending her forwards into the street, and before she could get up Midvalley started to turn, his sole eye filled with hate and rage.

With a wordless roar, the giant minotaur reached out one meaty hand to grab Rose. A series of shots rang out at the last possible moment, spurts of blood rising from the monster's forearm and causing him to turn again, letting out a cry of sheer hate when he saw Bourbon on top of a nearby house.

In those precious seconds, Rose managed to get her hooves under her and stagger away aimlessly, Ibis' shadow passing overhead as soon as she was clear, followed by a bunch of dark objects falling on and around Midvalley: the grenades.

The force of the explosion knocked Rose plot-over-pointer away from the former minotaur and filled the street with dust and smoke. My ears were ringing, the shockwave dissorienting me even at that distance, my hooves too shaky to let me stand or get to Rose.

After a few seconds, though, Rose stood again, wobbling and stumbling, her eyes unfocused. She was stunned, but alive, and I breathed a sigh of relief. It was all over. It was finally over.

I forced myself to my hooves, ignoring the townsponies crowding around the door behind me, and trotted forwards to meet my sister. Ibis swooped down and landed beside her, his wings clearing some of the dust. I shook my head to get rid of the ringing, and grinned. "Good aim, Ibis."

Ibis coughed, flapping to clear the air a bit more. "I thought you were keeping an eye on Rose!"

I half-heartedly scowled at him. "It's not my fault! She was... Rose, what were you thinking, doing that?"

Steadied by Ibis, Rose squinted, trying to focus on me. "Lily?"

I rolled my eyes. "Yes, Rose, it's me."

"Oh." She blinked and leaned against Ibis. "I'm a... a..." She paused, struggling to remember the word.

"An idiot?" I supplied. She shook her head and nearly fell over, going cross-eyed from the sudden movement.

"No... sheriff. I'm a sheriff... Lily, where's my hat?"

"Uh..." I looked over to where I'd last seen it, in the mouth of a goat. I couldn't see anything, there was too much smoke and dust in the air. "I think it got eaten."

"Oh..." Rose frowned and lay down, looking exhausted, battered, drunk and bruised. "Lily, my head hurts." She looked miserable, the loss of her hat crushing her.

"Snrk..." I tried to hold it in, I really did, but I burst out laughing, Ibis joining in a second later. As the smoke and dust cleared, we laughed like mad creatures, glad to finally be done with the whole mess.

There was a sudden hellish roar that left us all shaking, the settling dust swirling as something clawed its way out of the crater, a mass of shredded meat that had been a minotaur only a few minutes earlier. Massive chunks were missing from its hide, blood pouring freely, its insides becoming its outsides. Two horns were completely gone, bloody stumps jutting out of a nightmarish head. Everywhere, exposed muscles oozed and seeped blood, the dust sticking to it and making it look like some kind of golem.

Midvalley, or what was left of him, started to crawl towards us, the beady eye in the ruined face locked on us and filled with murder.

I pissed myself.

Out of the clearing smoke galloped Bourbon Rose, howling a battlecry as she leapt onto Midvalley's back and started firing, emptying her rifle into the back of his skull, bullet after bullet smashing into unyielding bone. Dust swirled around them, lit by the muzzle flashes, kicked up by Midvalley's thrashing and hiding them from sight. The air was filled with screams of fury, bellows of pain and rage, and the violent sounds of gunfire against meat and bone.

When the smoke had cleared and the dust had settled, we saw Bourbon standing victorious on the remains of the most terrifying thing I'd ever seen, her sneering face and front splattered with blood. Her rifle's barrel smoked as she turned, like the spectre of death, to glare at the Hornfreaks. "Which one of you fuckers is next?!"

The Hornfreaks looked at each other, at their slaughtered leader, and the blood-soaked mare who had killed him. Then, as one, they all turned and stampeded away. When the dust cleared for the final time, there wasn't a brahmin, goat or ram in sight.

My legs felt like jelly, Ibis was shaking like a leaf, and Rose had passed out and started snoring.

The last thing I heard as I collapsed, my eyes rolling back in my head, was Bourbon Rose sneering. "Fucking cowards."

We stayed in Canter Creek for about a week, long enough for us all to recover. I asked Bourbon why she'd followed us; she said she'd only come to the town to kill Midvalley and get the bounty off her head, and that she'd had no idea we were there.

Bourbon left town a few days before us, with a parting "Stay the fuck away from me, you stripe-walking freak" to Rose. I had to agree with Ibis: Bourbon was a right bitch.

The townsponies were thankful for us killing Midvalley and chasing off the gang, and helped us get patched up. We didn't mention that Bourbon was the one who killed the minotaur or scared his gang into running away. They didn't need to know that, not when gratitude meant a free room at the inn and a discount on supplies.

Rose kept her badge, since even the mayor said it wasn't a proper sheriff badge, and let Early go free after a couple of days. I sent him on his way with a stern look and a threat from my shifter.

Rose had recovered her rifle from under the Serenity and spent an entire day stripping it down and cleaning it. Dropping it had really put her on edge, and I wasn't surprised to see her sleeping with it clutched in her hooves that night. Ibis wasn't happy about waking up with a gun barrel in his face, though.

Oh, and why didn't Rose do her wierd empath thing? Because at first it was a duel, and she said that would be cheating. Much facehoofing was done, mostly by me. At least she had a real reason for not doing it after he'd hit her: she'd had a concussion and was confused. Or stupid; I was pretty sure it was because she was stupid.

Finally, the big day came. We were all well enough to travel, Rose had been strapped back into her armor (with a lot of bandages and poultices underneath), her injured hindleg (the cause of all her limping) had a brace on it, and we'd all restocked our supplies.

After checking the traces one final time, I hopped up into the Serenty's driver's bay and snuggled my butt into the nice, clean seat. Every inch of my baby had been cleaned, her name had been touched up, and there was no trace of thieving little tunnel ponies anywhere.

"You'll be sending some caravans our way, right?" The mayor asked. "We'd be right grateful."

"Consider it done, ma'am. We'll have Canter Creek on the routes in no time." I smiled and waved, before giving the reins a crack. "YAH! Move it, brahmin!"

"Not a brahmin," Rose grumbled, but she started forwards anyway, pulling the Serenity out of town.

Ibis, stretched out in the cargo bay, held up surgical tubing and a bottle of whiskey. "Here," he said with a smirk, using his claw to put a hole in the cork and shove the tube through before offering me the whole thing, "Stick this in Rose's pocket or something."

Snickering, I floated up a roll of duct tape. "Better idea." In no time flat, Rose had the whiskey bottle taped to her horn, with the tube stuck in her mouth as a straw. It turned her grumbling about being called a brahmin into barely audible mumbling, and it looked hilarious.

With one last crack of the reigns against Rose's flank, we rode off into the sunset, headed for home and a less adventurous life.

Author's Note:

I love how everyone thought Rose would have an easy time of it.:rainbowlaugh:
This was the Big Fight, the Boss Battle. Hopefully this lived up to expectations.:derpytongue2:

One more chapter to go, and we're done with this arc!