• Published 14th Apr 2017
  • 2,780 Views, 135 Comments

To Outlast - Camolot the Creator

Matt has always wished to visit the world of Equestria. He finally makes it, only to find an empty world barren of life. What happened? Where is everypony?

  • ...

X: Walk

My hands were folded under my chin, my legs folded underneath me, elbows on my knees.

Luna sat next to me, feathers ruffled, glaring forward with her expression twisted into a frown.

In front of the both of us, the target of our ire. A wall of pure crystal, unscratched, unscathed, entirely untouched. At the base was a pile of tools of every make, shape and size: sledgehammers, nailguns, drills, hammers, saws, handheld sawzalls. At the base of the wall were littered the black carbon marks of explosives of all kinds, from dynamite to C4, none even the slightest bit effective. Luna had even summoned up what power she could for a few spells, the first few unlocking charms, but the majority blasting or vaporizing charms, but the crystal had no-sell'ed it all.

"And you're saying that there's not a hint of magic in it?"

Luna huffed indignantly. "None! Not a locking charm, not a trigger, not a single thing! Nothing I can access, nothing I can observe!" She continued, muttering, "It's like trying to x-ray a lead box."

I groaned and flopped back onto the grass, arms spread wide. We'd tried everything we could think of, alone or together, and wasted the majority of a day on this futile task that had lead nowhere but down. Now, we had nothing left to even try, so I had to admit defeat.

"Back to the drawing board, I suppose..."

Luna made a frustrated noise, but relented, turning around and looking over the ruins of the base with a touch of melancholy.


I turned my head in her direction, quirking an eyebrow. She saw the look out of the corner of her eye and swallowed visibly, her hooves padding the grass gently.

"I'm almost afraid to... but... what does-" she swallowed again, closing her eyes, steeling herself. "How does Ponyville look? Is it...?"

I pushed myself back into a sitting position and turned to face her, expression solemn.

"It's... a ruin. I don't know what else to tell you, but there's not much left..."

The pain flickered through her expression, and she breathed out.

"I'd like to see it. Before nightfall."

I flexed my fingers, glancing at the sun, which was creeping towards the horizon, and nodded to her. We had time.

I stood, nodding to her and gesturing to the roadway that lead back to the front of the castle, following behind her as she trotted across the grass and broken cement to it. Her steps were reluctant and hesitating, head pulled back. If she'd had hands, I had no doubt she'd be making fists and relaxing them again and again. I increased my pace, catching up, and placed my hand on her back. Her head twitched back, licking her lips and stopping for just a moment. I nodded to her, reassuring her that I was here, and motioned her forward as gently as I could. She took a fortifying breath and continued, hoofsteps more sure, steadier.

Slowly, we trailed along the road, Luna staring at her hooves as they lifted and fell back to the cracked and aged asphalt. I walked by her side, reassuring her with my hand still on her back, something that she hadn't pushed away. If I had to guess, I would say that it was something from her years on the moon, just the touch of someone alive making sure that she knew that she wasn't alone. I took a small breath, moving my jaw a little, the question on the tip of my tongue about how she'd been after all that time alone. How she'd reacted to finally being home with her sister, but it wasn't... I don't know. It felt wrong, a bad idea. So we walked together down that road, silent, nothing but the wind to fill our ears. Not even birdsong or the noises of insects filled that silence, and it was almost... eerie. Like the whole world was holding its breath for the moment that Luna crested that rise and saw what was left of the home town of much of the Mane Six.

How well had she known them? She'd spoken of Twilight like a close friend, mentioning her name just after her sister's when she had pleaded for information. Applejack, I could imagine the two getting along. That pride, that independence, the dedication to her family. The remaining four I wasn't so sure of, but... she'd felt that she could trust them, didn't she? She'd brought the problem of the Tantabus to them before she'd ever gone to Celestia... I sighed. Regardless of any speculation, I didn't think she'd take the ruination of the town well. An unfamiliar military base wouldn't really register, and Twilight's castle was still intact if sealed up, but seeing the town in its current state would bring it home, make it real. And I'd be damned if I wasn't going to be there for her when she did, if she wanted my company. Like it or not, we were in this together, whatever 'this' was.

As we rounded the castle and the first outskirts of the town were revealed, Luna dropped her gaze to the road, staring intently at it with her head lowered and refusing to look up. Her mane fell forward, forming a curtain hiding any sight of the town from her. My mouth tightened in a pang of sympathy at this, my hand patting her right where it had remained throughout our entire walk. She turned her head slightly towards me, eyes flicking up to my face and a small, sad smile of thanks splitting her muzzle, to which I could only nod. I didn't trust myself to speak.

It took some time, with the two of us walking close together and slow as we dared, the sun dipping towards the horizon as we did. Finally, however, we reached a small raised piece of land, part of a thicker road that led to an entrance area ringing the front of the castle. From here we had a view over the entirety of the town, every piece, almost as good as the one that I'd had from the rise opposite just... earlier today? It'd felt like a week since that moment that I'd woken up, guessing that I'd been left after a rowdy party. A lot had changed in just that little time.

Luna took a deep breath, screwing her eyes shut and clamping her muzzle shut as she steeled herself and lifted her head, then opened her eyes. She stared out over the wreckage that had once been Ponyville, overgrown and rusted. Her eyes traced the trenches that circled the town, stopping at the leafy mounds that marked trucks and pillboxes. A sound came out of her throat, a sort of keening whine, sounding heartbreaking. Tears welled up in her eyes, then fell, forming tracks of wet fur in their path and dripping off of her muzzle and onto the dirt.

"It's all real, isn't it? It's real... I-I..."

I crouched next to her, just to let her know that I was here. What I wasn't prepared for was for her to tackle me, wrapping her hooves around me and pulling me against her as she began to sob. I hesitated for a moment, unsure what to do, then tossed caution to the wind and wrapped my arms around her, squeezing her as she squeezed me. Reassuring her that someone was here, as she sobbed and keened and howled, every bit of pain pouring out of her and into the air.

I don't know how long we were there. I lost track, sitting there, comforting her, making sure that she wasn't alone. She clung to me, maybe desperate for something solid and warm and living to hold onto, maybe just reassuring herself of the same thing I was. I didn't object, not saying a word as wet spots formed from the streams of tears making their way down her face and soaking into my hoodie. Eventually, after a while, I managed to shift her so that I was sitting with my legs crossed, her leaning against me, head on my shoulder. She fell asleep there, emotionally and physically drained as she was, and I chose not to wake her. Better to leave her with at least a little rest, a little time away from all this to acclimate.

I would have stayed there gladly on that little hill, Luna leaning against me in the quiet environment, sleeping gently while I calmed the occasional whimper or shudder. However, the shadows lengthened as the sun began to set, and as much as I hated to admit, we'd have to move. I didn't want to be caught outside at night, the perfect time for more of those tarwolves to sneak up on us with their pitch-black camouflage, perfect for the darkness. With one hand, and as gently as I could, I shook her awake and whispered to her.

"It's time to go. It's getting late..."

She stirred, head shifting on my shoulder before lifting, blinking tiredly at my face. After a moment she realized who I was, and her gaze slid past me and beyond as she turned her head, scanning the scene before us. This time, it was more in sad resignation than anything else, and she shed no more tears. She scanned from one end of the town to the other, searching among the buildings for something, maybe movement, a hint of the ponies that had inhabited it just a moment ago from her perspective, and nodded quietly. I picked myself off the ground, dusting myself off and walking back down the road to the compound, Luna trailing just in my wake.

"Are you okay?" The words slipped from my mouth, quiet and soft.

"Truthfully? I do not know. Everypony I knew is just... gone. The world here is quiet and empty, not the one full of life that I returned to, was happy to live in once again."

"We don't know that, not for sure-"

"Matt, look at what we've seen. Look at that town." She pointed back in the direction of Ponyville with a hoof. "Dost... do you really think that anypony is left? That they're just out there somewhere, waiting for us to contact them?" She lowered her hoof back to the asphalt and began her plodding pace once again. "There's nothing left here."

"We're still here." She shot me a questioning look, and I breathed in and steadied myself, continuing. "We're still here, and if we're here, that means that someone else might have survived. They might be trapped, or they might need assistance, or they could be waiting for you just over the horizon. We don't know, so until then.. until then, we have to believe that they're fine, that they're all fine. Celestia, Twilight, Cadence, all the rest..."

She looked away.


"Luna, we... we have to keep hoping. Your sister wouldn't just abandon you, not after everything. She's out there, somewhere, and she's waiting for us to find her. We can't just give up on her, on anyone. Okay?"

Her eyes closed, screwed tight with pain. "Okay."

I whispered. "Good."

The rest of the walk back to the compound was spent in a silence that neither of us attempted to break. Sunset had apparently managed to coax some life out of this place, crickets chirping to each-other in the grass and falling silent as we passed them. My hand returned to her back, and she pressed as close to my legs as she dared, both of us leaning on the other for support. I think back to the couple of little moments where Luna had laughed, or been amused, and considered how different that mare was to the one walking besides me right now. I'd only really known her for a few hours now, but already it was clear that she was so much deeper than her animated counterpart. More than anything, I was okay with that. It kind of startled me, but I realized that I actually needed someone nearly as much as she did, just to get through all of this.

We made it to the front gates without an issue, or even a sight of more tarwolves. The compound was still empty and abandoned, and we were swift to make our way through it. The door to the garage between us and the deeper levels creaked open quietly as Luna pushed it open, not with magic, but with her muzzle. i stayed right with her the entire time.

When we had come this way back to the surface, a light had flicked on when Luna had entered the room. In the time we'd been gone, it had automatically shut itself off, but now it flickered back to life as we entered. Vaguely, I wondered how it knew that we were here and that we needed light- had the timer been a signal of the facility coming out of some sort of hibernation mode? My thoughts stopped in their tracks as Luna's wing brushed against me. I had more important things to do right now, not the least of which was making sure that my erstwhile partner was alright, for whatever that was worth.

We passed into the security station together, then came to a halt at the sight of the large, black stain that was now splashed against the concrete. Scars were drilled into the floor where I'd missed the thing and the rounds had gone wild, a couple holes in the desk at the end. The stains themselves almost looked like the carbon stains that you get after you set off something explosive, like a firework or, well, explosives. By mutual, silent agreement, we skirted the edges of the stain as we made our way back to the blast door. Neither of us was going to touch it, not if we didn't have to. Bits of jelly-like shadow, the last fading remnants of the thing, clung to the center of some of the stains. As we passed, I could almost swear that they slid towards us ever so slightly. Both of us shivered in unison and walked a little faster, neither of us relaxing until we were finally past the thing.

The metal seal of the blast door made a soft 'clump' at the touch of my sneakers, ringing as Luna's hooves struck against it. I felt her relax a little farther the moment we were on the other side, and I couldn't blame her in the slightest, some of the tension draining out of me as well. A press of the button and the door dropped down and sealed itself- about a foot and a half of thick, solid metal between us and the outside world, and I felt all the better for it. Luna lingered for a moment, eyes on the blast door, then turned and trotted down the hallway, with me trailing in her wake. We made our way back to the barracks area, slipping into the same room that we'd occupied earlier for our conversation, repeating that same process of moving onto our chosen beds.

This time, however, instead of sitting up and facing each other, Luna practically collapsed onto her belly, muzzle buried a little in the pillow at the head of it. As I lay down myself on the other bed, removing my outer clothes and shoes in the process, I noted that the bunk was barely big enough for her, her back hooves sticking over the bottom edge just a little. My bunk wasn't much better, I realized, slipping my shoes and hoodie off and lying on it with my feet hanging over the edge. It wasn't uncomfortable, per say, just... small. I turned over in the cot, trying to get comfortable, my back pressed against the wall. Luna was facing away, one wing covering herself, back to me.

"Hey, Luna?"

She shifted slightly, her feathers ruffling a little as an answering mumble came from behind them. I took a breath in, and questions swirled in my mind, things that I didn't know from the show, things that she might be able to tell me, poking at the edge of her memories to find out more... but I quieted it all. I could ask later, not here, not now.

"Good night."

She mumbled something else and shifted a final time, curling up as much as she could. She was about as tall from the ground to the tip of her horn as I was, and thus didn't meet much success, but she managed to pull her back hooves into the cot from where they'd been hanging over the edge. At some point she'd yanked the thin blanket that the cot had come with over herself, but it was too small as well, covering only so much of her. I lay there for a few moments before my conscience got to me.

I swung my legs down off of the cot, wincing as my bare feet made contact with the cold concrete. Luna shifted, throwing me a curious glance from underneath a covering wing, but I didn't respond as I made my way out of the room. I padded down the hallway to the next barracks room door, opening it to find something near identical to what we'd had, the only difference being some faded decorations still sticking to one of the lockers in the back. I robbed both cots of their meager blankets and hauled them back to our room.

Before Luna could protest, I threw one of the blankets over the parts of her that the one she had didn't already cover, then lay down in my bunk and covered myself with both my old blanket and my new, pilfered blanket. Luna shifted in surprise, waking up a little as she found herself a bit warmer, muzzle poking out from a fold of the blanket.


Her voice was so soft and low that I barely heard it, the words not much more than a whisper and just audible even in this small, enclosed space.


"... Thank you."

I nodded to her, electing not to answer verbally. She nodded back, then rolled over. I lay there for a while, listening to her breathing as it slowed and steadied into the soft pattern of sleep, slowly but surely falling asleep myself as I did so.

I jerked awake, then groaned, rubbing my eyes. I wasn't sure what time it was, but something had woken me up, and it felt like just after midnight. After a long, confused second, I realized that Luna was thrashing about and making little cries in the her bunk, wings twitching and hooves flailing. That snapped me more awake, jolting me out of my cot just in time to stop her from falling to the hard concrete, keeping her on the cot and realizing that she was pretty heavy.

The contact woke her as well, as she cried out, kicking out at the air with her back hooves in panic and luckily missing me by a mile. I wouldn't doubt that a kick from a princess would hurt like hell, and I was glad to have avoided it, but right now I was more concerned about what in the hell was happening. My concern showed in my face as Luna blearily focused on me, but was quickly replaced by surprised confusion as her panic and fear was swiftly exchanged for what looked remarkably like shame and embarrassment.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry..." she tried to wiggle herself out of my grasp, but I held her there for the moment. She wasn't getting away without an explanation, and after a few weak struggles, she seemed to grasp this and slump.

"Look... I just want to make sure that you're alright, okay? That... whatever it was, it looked pretty bad."

Her eyes closed, ears flat against her skull. "It was nothing. Not anything you should worry about. Just... let me go back to bed..."

I raised an eyebrow. "Next time I might not be able to stop you from hitting the floor, and regardless, this feels like something that I need to know about. So, are we going to talk about it, or am I going to have to sit here with you all night?" I pointed a finger in her face. "Don't think I won't!"

Her lips twitched in the ghost of a smile. "I could just order you to..."

"Ohhh, no. You gave up that deference when you surrendered your title and became 'just Luna'. Therefore, I guess you'll just have to take the metaphorical bullet and talk to me."

Her ears, which had been slowly lifting, pressed flat against the sides of her head again. I waited, trying to let her come to the explanation on her own, but it was clear that she would need an additional push to get her started. I opened my mouth and took in a breath, prepared to poke her into starting up, then fell silent as she began speaking on her own.

"After my, um... indiscretion, a long time ago, I was banished to the moon by my sister. Not that I didn't deserve it, I did!" The last part was said quickly, and for a moment I was reminded of a fort closing up against an attack. Obviously she'd defended her sister's actions in the past...

"But, after that, I was left on the moon. Alone, with none but the Nightmare to accompany me. For a time, she was entertained with ranting and raving into the blackness, and I kept myself busy with little things, but... then she began to grow bored of that, and she... she..."

Luna's eyes squeezed shut tight, shivers running through her body, a strangled sob coming out of her throat. It was heartbreaking to see her like this, even more so if she was implying what I thought she was. Putting this together with what I'd seen of her reactions, it wasn't hard to reach a conclusion as to what it had been.

"Night terrors. You have night terrors."

She jerked her head away again, shame burning hot in her cheeks.

"Our- my sister would... would sleep beside me, when they were bad. It... helped..."

I sat there with her for a little while, thinking, then gently slipped the pillows and blankets under her head and set her on the floor, standing. She looked up at me, unsure, and I patted her neck reassuringly.

"I'll be right back, don't worry. Just gotta get a few more things."

I stepped out into the hallway, eyeing the other barracks doors once again. This time, as I made my way through them, I stripped the cots of everything: pillows, blankets and even their meager mattresses. I dragged and pushed the lot back to our room and shoved it through the door, startling Luna, who stood and moved to the rear and pressed against the lockers at the back, staring in confusion as the mass.

I arranged the mattresses on the floor, making sure that every inch of the concrete was covered. Luna stepped onto the mattresses to clear the area at the back, which was the last thing I covered. Next, I draped the entire thing with the salvaged blankets, then dumped the pillows in a pile at the head, before laying down on the whole thing on my back. Luna stood there, shifting from hoof to hoof, obviously uncertain. I patted the space besides me, and after a moment's hesitation she trotted over, hoofsteps muted by the now-soft floor, and lay next to me, allowing me to shift so that my back was against hers. In a lot of ways, this was just like what we'd done on our way back to the compound, with the light pressure reminding the both of us that we weren't alone.

I felt her wings twitched as our backs touched, but she didn't move away, and some little part of the tension that I could feel in her muscles drained away.

She fell asleep before she could do more than mumble a thank you. But, that was alright, because I was already asleep as well.

Author's Note:

Hope you like the increased update schedule! This one would have been posted earlier, but I was stumped at how to approach how Luna was acting in some of this chapter. Tell me what you think: do you think I got her right? Wrong? Sideways?