• 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 30: Opening Move

---CHAPTER 30: Opening Move ---

"Wait! I don't understand. Changelings are supposed to be evil... right?"

Something was poking me. Something hard and pointy, waking me up with all the kindness of an insistant hoof.

"Lily... wake up, Lily..."

Big surprise, it was Rose. Grumbling and wondering why my bedroll was so darn hard, I swatted her hoof away. "'m 'wake... just... five more minutes..." When I tried to roll over and get back to sleep, hopefully dreaming about something other than the giant bugpony, the hoof returned, shaking me this time.

"Lily, wake up," came Rose's voice again. "You need to wake up and meet the cousins."

Cousins? The word wormed its way into my foggy brain, then everything came back to me. The Stable, all the flutterponies... the thing I saw Rose hugging. Sweet Celestia! I-it wasn't a dream!

I sat up quickly, rolling onto my hooves so quick I just barely missed conking heads with Rose and looking around frantically. Please let it be a dream, please let it be a oh fuck me running-

The biggest damn bug I'd ever seen was standing there.

-it's a bug it's a giant bug-

It was a full head taller than me, with a big glossy shell covering it from the tips of its four hooves to the point of its horn.

-why is it looking at me oh Celestia it has wings if it flies at me I'm gonna throw Rose at it-

Two big blue pupiless eyes stared at me as it buzzed its horrible buggy wings.

-oh sweet Luna on a tricyle it has fangs it's gonna bite me and lay eggs in my brain and-

"Oooh..." Suddenly I relaxed, calm washing over me, the panic attack fading even as Rose pulled away and blinked at me slowly, her horn still throwing off a few green sparks.

"You went crazy, Lily," she stated simply.

"So, Spanner was right." Someone spoke up with a wierd, almost buzzy, chittery voice. With a start, I realised it was the giant bugpony as it approached slowly, watching Rose through narrowed eyes. The only reason I wasn't freaking out was because Rose had done her thing. "Cousin, do you understand what you're doing?"

"Uh-huh." Rose nodded, looking very proud of herself as she puffed her chest out and smiled. "I help Lily feel better when she gets hurt or goes crazy." She paused and blinked, looking from me to the bug a couple of times. "Lily goes crazy a lot. I don't like it when Lily goes crazy. It makes her scary."

"Gee, thanks a lot Rose," I grumbled, but I was just as ignored as Ibis, who was just sitting off to one side and watching everything quietly.

The bug stopped within touching distance of Rose and stared into her eyes like it was searching for something for a few moments, then sighed and shook its head. "You have no idea, do you, cousin? The harm you've done... the danger you've put yourself in..."

With Rose looking confused at that, and my fear of horrible giant bugponies temporarily squashed, I took my chance to speak up. "Yeah, hi, over here?" I waved my hooves until I'd gotten everyone in the room looking at me, then put on my best Trader's Smile. "Hi. I'm sure you've heard of us already, but I'm Caravan Lily. Your, uh, cousin is Whiskey Rose." I paused to indicated Rose, who simply blinked in response. "The walking featherduster over there-" I pointed at Ibis, who just fluffed himself up and rolled his eyes "-is Ibis Greywing. We're..." I came to a halt as I considered what to say. This wasn't really business, getting Rose (and hopefully myself) some help was more of a personal thing, so... "Well, we're here about Rose, actually."

Keeping my winning grin in place, I started to explain.

"-and that's... pretty much everything," I finished going over the important bits of our visit with a sigh before flashing the wierd bug that I was now pretty sure was in charge a hopeful grin. "Since you're the Overmare here, do you think you can help us?" It had to be the Overmare. That Spanner mare had said the Overmare wanted to see Rose, and the bug was the only one in the room that wasn't one of us, so it only made sense.
Besides, now that I wasn't almost pissing myself in terror, it looked kinda feminine, and I'd never heard of a stallion being an Overmare, no matter how wierd some of those Stable ponies could get.

My hopes almost crumbled when the bug shook its... her? head. "I'm afraid you're mistaken," she said in that wierd buzzy voice that was starting to make my skin crawl every time I heard it, "I'm not the Overmare."

"I am," came the sudden voice from behind me. I only screamed a little, and I definitely didn't try to hide behind Rose. At all. Anypony who says different is a liar.

"Who the hay are you?!" I asked from where I was reassuring Rose that the new pony was probably friendly.

"I'm the Overmare," the sooty-dapple unicorn mare answered simply, before giving Ibis a nod, "as your friends already know."

I looked between the newcomer and the bug, who were both looking amused, then to Ibis, who was smirking, and finally at Rose, who was turning a funny color for some reason. Finally, I turned back to Ibis and gave him a flat look. "Did you two already tell them everything?"

With a shrug, Ibis just smirked at me. "Had to do something while you were out." His eyes wandered to Rose, who I was still giving a reassuring hug, and he frowned. "Blue isn't a good look for her, you idiot."

"Could've told me, jerk," I grumbled, before letting Rose go and patting her on the back when she fell over, overcome by how inconsiderate her boyfriend was when it came to business. We had a system! I did the talking, Rose did everything else, Ibis just sat there and looked... well, not pretty. Intimidating? Yeah, that's what he did. Or what he was meant to do.

Trying to get some control of the situation, I stepped over Rose and plastered my grin back on before clearing my throat. "Ahem. So, now that you've heard everything... twice..." I shot Ibis a dirty look; he just ignored me and joined the big bug in trying to get Rose back on her hooves, "Do you think you can help us?"

The Overmare nodded. "We'll do everything we can to help you." She smiled kindly at me as she approached, "You're welcome to stay as long as you like, of course, even after you've all recovered. We don't get live salvage much these days, let alone a new herd, but I'm confident you'll feel right at home." She paused for a moment, studying my face. I tried not to let my discomfort at being referred to as a herd show. "That is, if you accept. We won't force you to stay, but please, for the good of our cousin, at least consider it."

"Uh, well," I stammered out, "we're... not a herd, but we came here to get some help, so..." Taking a deep breath, I extended a hoof and got my winning smile back in place. "We accept your hospitality. Y'know, for now."

The Overmare's hoof met mine in the age-old ritual of an accepted deal. A moment later, a big buggy hoof gave me a start as it joined the hoof pile, the three of us breaking apart a moment later, the two Stable ponies standing side-by-side and me rejoining Rose and Ibis.

"On behalf of the Hive-" the bug started saying.

"-and the Stable-" the Overmare continued.

"-as Regent-"

-and as Overmare-"

-we welcome you to our home." The pair finished in unison. It was creepy.

Then the bug (or the Regent, whatever that meant) addressed us by herself, smiling at the three of us with those big fangs. "We'll make arrangements for your herd's quarters while you're getting your check-ups."

"Wait, check-up?" I looked around, confused, as the door hissed open behind us and another pony in Stable barding came in. "What check-up?"

"So... what's a Regent?" I asked our guide, the fairly normal looking pony who'd led us out of the Overmare's office. Behind us, Rose and Ibis were looking around, one happily and waving to everyone we passed, the other looking eyeballing anyone who strayed too close to our group.

"The Regent and the Overmare lead our Hive, they're the ones who ensure we survive," the young stallion answered happily as he led us down a flight of stairs. He looked at me curiously. "Who leads on the surface?"

"Uh, nobody. I think." I thought about the wierd question for a second. "I mean, most towns have a mayor, but nobody's really in charge or anything."

The stallion just looked confused. "Then... who do the ponies follow? How do they know what they need to do, or how to serve the Hive?"

I shrugged. Seriously, wierd question. "We kinda just... do whatever and hope it works out. And... we don't have hives."

He looked bewildered, staring at me with wide eyes. "Surfacers are so strange..."

"Look who's talking," I shot back, grinning to let him know I was just playing. "You guys are all in each other's heads all the time, right? I mean, that's just so wierd." I shuddered. "Do you guys have any privacy at all? Or are you actually reading each other's minds constantly?"

He frowned at me. "You are so strange, Equestrian. We don't read each other's minds, we speak in the Hivemind. Just like you and I are speaking now. We just reach out and... speak..."

I shrugged. "Still sounds wierd to me."

It was a few minutes of idle conversation as we walked through crowds, down corridors and stairs, before we got to another interesting conversation.

"We keep getting called live salvage," I brought up as casually as my curiousity would allow, watching our guide out of the corner of my eye, "what's that about?"

The young stallion blinked in surprise as he led us around a corner, sidestepping close to me as we slipped past a maintenance crew working on a vent. "I heard that Officer Damsel sent you here, she didn't explain it to you? Or the Regent or Overmare?" I shook my head. "I see..." He went quiet for a moment and got the same blank look Rose usually had. Just when I was about to poke him, he blinked. "The Regent says I can explain..." He paused. "I, um, haven't explained it before, so... I'm... kinda just repeating what the Regent just told me..." He actually looked embarrassed, scratching his foreleg with one hoof when we paused to let another maintenance crew go by with a bunch of crates. It was kinda cute, like he was an awkward colt.

"Hey, you've gotta explain it better than I would," I laugh and give him a reassuring shoulder bump, flashing my winning grin at him to keep him talking and explaining things. From the goofy grin he got, it looked like it was working. Yay for manipulation!

"Oh, um, you see... salvage teams don't just bring back supplies," he started off sounding nervous, but got into it quickly enough, "sometimes they bring back live salvage, ponies. Normally orphan foals, sometimes very carefully chosen adults, all to..." He paused again, his lips moving as he sounded something out in his head. "To maintain... generic... adversity..." He shook his head and his ears perked up, "Oh! Fresh blood!" He smiled proudly. "New ponies are brought in to keep the population healthy!"

I was taken aback. "Uh, we're not here for... that. Can you tell the Regent or whoever that we're not-" I shuddered at the thought "-breeding stock or anything."

"Huh?" Our guide blinked at me, looking surprised. "But..." his eyes went blank for a moment. "Oh. Oh!" He shook his head again and blushed. "I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean you were... I mean, the Regent did say you were just here for help even if I think you're really pretty and I didn't mean to say you were that kind of live salvage but grrmph-"

Rolling my eyes, I held his gob shut with my magic until he'd calmed down and stopped trying to ramble on. Geez, it was just like when Rose got upset! "I get it." I smiled at him reassuringly and slowly released his muzzle. "We're not here to... keep the population healthy. We're just here to get some help for the three of us, that's all."

Blushing, he looked away and nodded, leading us on in embarrassed silence. Well, he was embarrassed. I'd caught something interesting in his rambling and decided to bring it up and see what would happen.

"So... you really think I'm pretty?" I asked, batting my eyes at him and laughing when he almost stumbled over his own hooves.

"Y-yes?" He stammered, staring at me with wide, questioning eyes. I waved one hoof in a go-on gesture and smiled at him. "Y-you're really pretty... you don't look like anyone in the Hive, and I don't know what you're thinking, and, and you're, you're-"

"Exotic?" I supplied helpfully, giggling as he got all flustered and nodded frantically. He really was cute, in that awkward way most young stallions were. "Hear that, guys?" I called back over my shoulder to my companions, "I'm exotic!"

"That's not what I'd call you," Ibis snarked.

I just snorted at him and flicked my tail in his general direction to try and whip him, before turning back to our guide and fluttering my eyelashes at him. "So, I'm exotic, am I? Is there anything else you like about me?" So I was teasing him, so what? It was funny!

"I, uh, um, I really like... your mane?" He offered lamely, eyes darting side-to-sids nervously. Before I could do more than snicker and open my mouth to reply, he pointed to a door we were about to pass. "Oh look, we're here! Bye!" He galloped off, leaving me in his dust.

"Huh." Blinking, I shrugged and shot a questioning look towards my companions. Ibis was rolling his eyes at me and Rose was just smiling like she'd been doing every step of the way. Before I could say anything, our guide was back, skidding to a halt in front of me, his cheeks bright red.

"Oh, my name's Mirror. The Regent says I'm going to be showing you around afterwards, so I'll be back when you're done."

"Um, thanks?" I replied dumbly as he bolted off again, looking as flustered as a worshipper of the Unconquered Sun in a whorehouse.

Behind me, Rose giggled. "He likes you, Lily."

I was left wondering what he'd meant by 'afterwards'... until the door hissed open. Then I groaned. It was a freaking doctor's office.

A few minutes later, the three of us were seated on some old cots in the medical bay, being poked and prodded and asked some very personal questions.

"Are you sexually active?" The labcoat-wearing mare asked me.

I shook my head. "Nope." From the other cots, I heard Rose and Ibis reply in the positive, Rose predictably adding "Very" to her answer. The doctors questioning us scribbled down our answers on their clipboards.

"History of disease or recurring health issues?"

"I had horsey hives as a foal," I answer. "Other than that, I can't think of anything."

"Have you had any foals?"

I grimace at that one, squeezing my hind legs together. "Uh, no! And I don't plan to!" I'd seen a mare give birth once and I never wanted to go through that myself!

The questions went on like that for a while, before the inevitable came up.

"History of injuries?"

My list only took a couple of seconds to recite, Ibis was done quickly... Rose quickly got the attention of all three doctors and the nurses as well, all of them listening in with horror as she counted off everything she could remember. Then Ibis chimed in when she forgot some stuff.

They made it up to Rose's boxing career before one of the nurses fainted.

Me and Ibis got off lightly, with just some x-rays and blood tests. Rose, on account of being a walking wagonwreck, got put through a lot more stuff. More x-rays, more blood tests, horn and hoof scrapings, she even got a little light shined in her eyes.

Mind you, it was hilarious when one of the nurses was checking Rose's mare bits and threw a bedpan at Ibis' head, calling him a brute and telling him to keep his dirty claws to himself in the future. Rose's protest about liking his claws just got her shushed and hugged, the nurse promising to protect her from big mean birds who don't know how to treat a fragile young mare.

Eventually, though, the tests slowed and the nurse was convinced that what Rose and Ibis did was okay (at least to them), leaving the three of us sitting on our seperate beds and chatting as one of the doctors finished up testing Rose's range of motion, moving her legs, hooves and neck.

"Okay," The doc said, letting Rose's head go and sitting back, "that's almost everything. Just one last thing to check and we'll be done. Open your mouth, please, dear."

Rose obliged. "Tongue in, dear," the doctor clarified, Rose pulling her tongue back into her head as the doctor shone a light down her throat. "Hmm..." Carefully, the doctor stuck a metal stick with a small ball on the end into the gaping maw.

Suddenly, Rose's eyes went wide, her ears going flat as the doctor poked something before withdrawing the stick, the ball now covered in gloopy green crap. Rose champed at the air and made a wierd face as the doctor studied the grossness-on-a-stick.

"Open again, dear." Rose grimaced, but complied, the doctor carefully taking her head in her hooves and feeling along the base of her jaw. "Nurse, a beaker plese." One of the nurses positioned a beaker under Rose's open mouth before the doctor pressed her hooves just behind Rose's jaw.

With an audible click, Rose's jaw dropped. Literally. It swung open as wide as it could, leaving her gurgling in confusion as the doctor maneuvered her head to point down into the big glass beaker.

Then, with me and Ibis watching in surprise, the doc moved her hooves slightly and started to rub, making Rose's ears twitch. A few seconds later, a stream of gross, viscous green crud oozed out of Rose's mouth. I felt my stomach turning as I watched, and even Ibis fluffed himself up in displeasure at the sight.

Eventually the goopy, nasty, horrible stuff stopped flowing and the doctor held up the beaker, now half-full of the gunk. "Resin glands are a little underdeveloped, but consistency seems normal." The beaker was passed to the nurse, who trotted off with it as the doctor made some notes on her clipboard. Rose, now free, just champed at the air, made funny faces, and moved her jaw around.

Before I could work out what to say, Ibis spoke up. "What in Luna's name was that?!"

The doctor barely spared us a glance, focused on the clipboard. "We had to check her resin glands for abnormalities. They're a little small for a mare her age, but that's not unheard of."

"What are you talking about? What resin glands?" I butted in, wanting to know more about why the hell Rose's head turned into a snot factory!

"All flutterponies have resin glands, dear," the doc clarified, making a few final notes. "We use it to help build the Hive. Even the wall above is made from our resin mixed with sand. It's perfectly natural."

"That's not what I meant!" Frustrated, I stomped my hoof. Not that it did much, on account of me being on a cot. "What was all that stuff you did to Rose?! The thing with her gob! It looked like her head was on a hinge or something!"

"Ah." The doc finally looked up from the clipboard. "I forgot you weren't familiar with flutterponies, Equestrians." She raised her hoof and gestured at the wary-looking Rose's jawline. "Flutterponies have a spot that, with a little pressure, unhinges their jaw. It's an inherited trait from our ancestors that would let them bite large prey. Perfectly harmless, and with some practice we can do it without needing to use our hooves." To prove her point, she raised her head and click, her jaw dropped open. Ibis fluffed himself up, not liking it one bit, and my skin was crawling as the doc closed her mouth again, her jaw clicking into place.

"See? Perfectly fine, dears." She smiled at us, then glanced at her clipboard. "Now, cousin," she addressed Rose, "I'd like you to come in at least once a week for a check-up. There's nothing wrong," she said reassuringly, "we just want to make sure you're settling in nicely. Can you do that for me?"

Rose nodded, looking distracted and working her jaw back-and-forth, even when the doc smiled and patted her on the shoulder. "That's good, dear. I'll be back in a moment, so you three just wait here, alright?" We all gave our various versions of yes and she trotted off, through a door in the back of the med bay.

"This is wierd," I declared as soon as we were alone, hopping off my cot and stretching my legs. "It's all just so... wierd!" I eyeballed Ibis, who seemed to be taking it all in stride. "Don't you think it's wierd?"

Ibis shrugged. "Kinda, but we're finally getting some answers at least."

"I guess," I grumbled, trotting over to Rose's cot and taking the clipboard from the end of it, ignoring how she was poking at her jaw with her hooftips. "Let's see... patient name... blood type... huh." I blinked and double-checked the next entry. "Hey, Ibis, check your chart for me? What's it say your race is?"

The was the sound of rustling as the big buzzard checked the clipboard mounted to his cot. "Says I'm a griffin. Why?"

"Check mine too." I flicked through the rest of Rose's chart, it all looked fine except for that one entry.

"Apparently you're a unicorn." There was a pause, then, with a smirk I could hear, "that's really what you weigh?"

I snapped round to give him my patented deathglare. "You say anything and I'll see if they can neuter you."

"Okay, okay," Ibis held his claws up in mock surrender, smirking at me. "But what was that all about, anyway?"

"They got Rose's race wrong," I held the clipboard up, ignoring how Rose was now clicking her jaw in and out of position with a look of confusion. Right then, the doctor came back in and I turned to her, presenting the chart. "Hey, doc, I think you missed something when you were checking Rose."

"Oh?" With a raised eyebrow, the doc took the clipboard and looked it over. "No, I don't believe we missed anything, it all looks in order."

"Uh, yeah! You missed her horn!" I gestured at Rose's poker with both hooves, waving them to get the point across. "You've got her down as an earth pony, but she's a unicorn!"

The doc frowned at me. "No, dear. She's an earth pony. She just happens to have a horn." She shook her head and set the clipboard back in its spot. "It's not uncommon in flutterponies for pegasi or earth ponies to have horns, or unicorns or earth ponies to have flutterpony wings. They're holdovers from our ancestors." She paused to watch Rose, who was tilting her head back and clicking her jaw until it looked like she had a flip-top head. "Just because they have the extra parts, doesn't change what they are. They can use flutterpony magic, but not true unicorn or pegasus magic." Another pause, this time while the amused looking doctor helped Rose get her jaw popped back into place with a smile. "I believe you've already met Spanner? She's just like young Rose here."

I groaned. "You mean Rose really is an earth pony with a horn?" When the doc nodded, I just groaned again, hopped back onto my cot and buried my face in the pillow. That explained so much.

Author's Note:

I am BACK!:pinkiehappy:

I've fought through terrible internet, tons of distracting stuff, loads of fun things I really wanted to do instead of write, and here we go!:derpytongue2::twilightblush:
A few revelations, some questions answered, and the Big Reveal for why Rose is like she is.:rainbowlaugh:

Yep, the whole reason Rose seems so freakishly strong and durable, and why she heals so fast, is because everyone's always thought she was a unicorn, and that's what she's been compared to. She's actually a slightly above-average earth pony.:rainbowlaugh:

Comments ( 3 )

Yay, it's back!

"lead our Hive, they're the ones"
"lead our Hive; they're the ones"?
Also, I wonder if that rhyme was something from his school days? Sounds like the sort of thing that might have been.

"sent you here, she didn't"
"sent you here; she didn't"?

"breeding stock or anything."
"breeding stock or anything?"?

"darting side-to-sids"
"darting side-to-side"?

"I'd seen a mare give birth once and I never wanted to go through that myself!"
Hey, at least you're not human.

"The was the sound"
"There was the sound"?

"Rose's chart, it all looked"
"Rose's chart; it all looked"?

"doctor came back in and I turned"
"doctor came back in, and I turned"?

"onto my cot and buried my"
"onto my cot, and buried my"?

And alas, the chapter ends. Well... I mean, I do have a number of other things to do and limited time, but still. :)
Another good one!
Welcome back. :)

I forgot how much I enjoy this story.... Thank you for the update! Loved it!

I imagine Rose looking like a Pez dispencer... or Spike when he was used as a lighter. LoL

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